Amanda Knox Murder Trial Starts in Italy

Mellas said the family believe that Knox is innocent and that the jury will eventually exonerate her.

The family have traveled back and forth to Italy to visit Knox while she's been jailed and said she remains in relatively good spirits.

"She seems to be holding up OK," said her father, Curt Knox. "When you have your freedom taken away from you for something you did not do, that's always very difficult."

Though her parents were not in Perugia for the beginning of the trial, they said another relative was in Italy with their daughter.

Guede Convicted, Sentenced to 30 Years

At a preliminary hearing last October, Perugia judge Paolo Micheli convicted Guede, who had requested a fast-track hearing, of Kercher's murder and sexual assault and sentenced him to 30 years in jail.

At the same time, he indicted Knox and Sollecito and denied their requests for house arrest. Micheli explained to reporters at the time that he felt there was "clear and logical evidence" that the three suspects were together at the scene of the crime, that more than one person was involved, and that the murder occurred in a "sexual context."

Micheli will not preside over the new trial.

Guede has always admitted to being at the scene of the crime. His bloody handprint was found on a pillow under the victim's body, but he insists he did not kill Kercher. His lawyers plan to appeal his conviction.

Amanda Knox Says She's Innocent

Knox and Sollecito have also steadfastly maintained their innocence. Both say they were together at Sollecito's house the night of the murder, though Sollecito says he cannot recall whether Knox was there all night, or not.

Knox first told police she was with Sollecito all night, but when pressured in an all-night interrogation she said she had a vision that she was in the house when Kercher was murdered, which led to her arrest. That was the only time during the investigation and since her subsequent arrest that Knox has said she was in the house when Kercher was killed. Later, Knox reverted to her original story.

Sollecito's lawyers believe and intend to argue that Kercher was killed by an intruder, while Knox's lawyers say simply that she was killed by a strong, robust male – not Amanda.

Prosecutors have previously presented evidence against Knox that includes a kitchen knife found in Sollecito's house that they say has Knox's DNA on the handle and Kercher's DNA on the blade. Knox's lawyers say the amount of DNA found is so small and such a wide match that it does not constitute good evidence. Blood stains with mixed DNA from Knox and Kercher were also found in the bathroom the two young women shared.

Sollecito's DNA was found on the victim's bra, but his lawyers say that the DNA belongs to more than one person and allege that the crime scene was contaminated during the investigation.

The jury at the trial is composed of six jurors, three men and three women between the ages of 35 and 57 chosen from a pool of 50 residents of Perugia, and two judges: Giancarlo Massei, the President of the Perugia Penal court, and Beatrice Cristiani. The six jury members will have the same influence and the same responsibility as the two professional judges in the trial.

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