A lawyer for Amanda Knox wrapped up her defense in the Italian murder trial today with an emotional, at times tearful, appeal to the court to acquit her of charges that she murdered roommate Meredith Kercher.
The dramatic plea by attorney Luciano Ghirga came on the final day of summations in the nine-month long murder trial which is expected to produce a verdict by the end of this week.
Ghirga railed against what he said were investigative mistakes, an abusive interrogation that produced screams from Knox, and to faulty evidence by the prosecution. He turned frequently towards the 22-year-old Knox as he portrayed her as a victim of a justice system that had gone awry.
"Amanda was a victim of a mechanism that crushed her," he said.
The lawyer appealed for sympathy for Kercher, but also for Knox.
"We suffer for what happened to Meredith," Ghirga told the jurors, referring to the murder victim, "but also for the future of Amanda."
Ghirga teared up at the end of his summation and apologized for a little "emotion." Turning to Knox's parents, he told the court, "Amanda's parents ask you for her acquittal. There is no Knox clan, just two desperate parents."
"The prosecutor is right about one thing, you should not forget the victim, Meredith," he said. "And there is one thing the prosecution should have done for Meredith, and that is an investigation done well from the beginning, with rigor."
Ghirga concluded by saying, "Amanda asks you for her life. Give Amanda her life back, by acqutting her."
The court took a break after his appeal and as Knox was led out of the court, she looked back at her family and smiled. They were also in tears.
Seated in the courtroom was Knox's father Curt Knox and her mother, Edda Mellas. Joining them today from their home in Seattle were Knox's younger sister Deanna, 20. Not allowed in court were her two youngest sisters Ashley, 14, and Delaney, 11.
Kercher's family is expected to arrive in time for the verdict.
The last word in the trial belongs to the defendants, and Knox may make a final appeal in the closing minutes of the trial on Thursday
Knox has been in jail for two years since her arrest for the Nov. 1, 2007 murder of Kercher, a 21-year-old British student whose semi-nude body was found in the cottage they shared with her throat cut. On trial with Knox is her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. A third man, Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, who has already been convicted of taking part in the crime and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
During the prosecutor's summation, he claimed that Knox led an attack on Kercher who criticized her for her cleaning habits, for bringing boys back to the cottage late at night, and accused her of stealing money from her.
If convicted, Knox could be sentenced to life in prison.
During his assault on the evidence, Ghirga said that his client was roughly grilled without the presence of an attorney. During the trial Knox testified that the officers yelled at her, called her a liar and hit her in the head.
"This is a privation of the right to defense of a person who was at that moment effectively a suspect, and," he said with his voice rising to a shout, "we will not accept it. It is a very serious omission that we cannot bear - something we did not know how to explain to her and her parents."