Amanda Knox's cheerful optimism cracked at the end of the second day of her Italian murder trial today when she was allowed to hug her father and tears welled up in her eyes.
"I told her to be strong," Curt Knox said after his daughter left the courtroom, smiling back at her dad through tear-filled eyes as she headed back to prison.
"We both told each other we love each other," he said.
It was an emotional end to the first day of testimony in the trial in which Knox, 21, and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are accused of murdering Meredith Kercher in November 2007 in Perugia, Italy, where both women were attending school as exchange students.
Kercher, a 21-year-old British student, was found on the floor of her bedroom on the morning of Nov . 2, 2007 in a pool of blood with her throat slashed.
Knox, of Seattle, and Sollecito are accused of sexual violence and murder in Kercher's death, along with 23-year-old Rudy Guede, who was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison last October for his part in Kercher's murder.
The former University of Washington student has smiled at times during her court appearances and her family has told ABC News that she was bearing up well in their weekly prison visits. Her brief show of emotion today was the first sign of the emotional toll the case is taking.
Curt Knox said he was encouraged by the initial day of testimony.
"My reaction to today's hearing is for the first time real evidence is starting to come out that will prove her innocence," he said.
He said his daughter was going through a "difficult period," and the family is eager for the ordeal to be over.
"But I want her to be exonerated from everything because she didn't do anything wrong," Curt Knox said. "Even if this takes a little longer, I want her to be exonerated."
Today's testimony began with a surprise statement by Sollecito in which he insisted on his innocence. He rose a second time later in the trial to comment on testimony from the first police who arrived at the murder scene.
The court in Perugia was preparing to hear the first witness in the trial when Sollecito's lawyers announced he wished to make a spontaneous statement. Italian law allows defendants to make statements or ask to be questioned at any time during a trial.
"I find it difficult to understand how I have ended up in this situation," Sollecito told the court in a tremulous voice. "I have been in jail for one year and three months and I have nothing to do with all of this. I am not a violent person. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I find it difficult to hurt a fly."
Looking wan, in a white turtleneck, Sollecito explained that he barely knew Kercher. " She was Amanda's roommate, " he said. Sollecito also said that he had never met Guede.
"My relationship with Amanda had just begun. We met on Oct . 25," he said.
During a previous hearing, Sollecito's lawyer said that the two were young "lovebirds" just starting on a relationship and had no reason to go looking for wild sexual experiences, something the prosecution has suggested might be a motive for the crime.
"I humbly ask you to examine everything with extreme attention, to ascertain the truth," Sollecito pleaded with the court. "I feel I am the victim of a judicial mistake."