Amanda Knox has told an Italian member of Parliament that she had expected to be home for Christmas, but despite the crushing disappointment of being convicted of murder said her trial was "correct" and that she still has faith in Italian courts.
Knox made her comments to Walter Verini, a Parliamentarian representing the region of Umbria where Knox is jailed, four days after a jury found her guilty of murdering British roommate Meredith Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007.
The midnight verdict last Friday and 26 year prison sentence left Knox crying "No, no, no" as she was taken from the courtroom, and triggered criticism by her family and American commentators. Some claimed that the Italian court has been influenced by anti-Americanism and tabloid press coverage of the trial.
Knox, 22, was dressed in a track suit and reading in her cell, Verini said, when he came around with staff from the Capanne prison just outside Perugia. She was very cordial to him, and gave the impression of being "apparently calm," Verini said.
"I thought I would be home for Christmas," Knox told Verini. "But instead I have to wait."
Knox told Verini she could not wait to be free, but would put her trust in her lawyers' appeal and in the Italian legal system.
She was convicted along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, who as sentenced to 25 years in prison. A third person, Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, had previously been convicted of taking part in the murder and was sentenced to 30 years.
"I asked her if she had seen how her country had reacted to the verdict," said Verini. "She was evidently aware of everything that was happening, but did not say what effect she thought it would have on her legal situation."
He quoted Knox as saying that her trial was "correct," and that she "still has faith in the Italian legal system."
Knox's parents had lashed out at the verdict, saying jurors had ignored a lack of evidence that put Knox at the murder scene and the lack of a strong motive for her to kill Kercher.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., issued a statement expressing doubts about the Italian justice system, and indicated that anti-Americanism may have tainted the trial. She implied that the jury was not impartial, and had been negatively influenced by Italian media accounts of the case. Cantwell said she would take her case to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Amanda Knox Appeal Could Be Heard Next October
The appeal process won't begin until March 5 when the trial judge releases his full opinion on the verdict and the sentence in the case. Knox's lawyers could file their appeal in June or July with the first hearing possibly scheduled between September and October.
Luciano Ghirga, one of Knox's lawyers, said his research indicated that about one in three cases are reversed on appeal.
Appeals can also uphold the verdict, but reduce the prison sentence.
Knox's mother Edda Mellas, told ABC News that when Knox returned to prison after her conviction last Saturday, she had been moved from a four-person cell to the new cell she now shares with just one other person, another American.
Verini confirmed Knox was sharing a cell with a new American cellmate, named Laura, 53, "but she socializes with everyone in prison," he noted.
Ghirga also rejected insinuations that Knox did not get a fair trial in the Perugia court. "The issues in America do not interest me much," Ghirga told ABC News. "I am happy that there is support, and participation, but if you say it was a trial from the Middle Ages, that her rights were violated, then what do you have lawyers for?"
"Amanda's rights were respected during the trial," said Ghirga. Over the course of many hearings "evidence was presented in the course of debate in court. She had a fair trial."
Knox's rights were not respected during the investigation, however, Ghirga said, when Knox was questioned without a lawyer in the early days after the murder, and interrogation that led to her confused statement in which she said she had a vision she was at the house when Kercher was killed.
"During the investigation, her right to have a lawyer present was not respected, and we made that point very strongly in the trial," Ghirga said.
While noting that "we all were influenced by the media" in the course of this case, he ruled out that the media coverage of the case ultimately influenced the jury's decision.
"I rule out the fact that the jury could have been influenced by the media in a negative sense," Ghirga said. "And I can guarantee that at the trial, the rights (of Amanda) were not violated."
Reaction to Amanda Knox Verdict Roils Italians
Italian observers commenting in the press bristled at what they felt was uninformed judgment of the case by American media and commentators.
"I don't know if Amanda Knox is guilty," wrote reknowned commentator and U.S. observer Beppe Severgnini in an editorial in the Corriere della Sera on Tuesday, "or at least I did not know until Saturday, Dec. 5, when the jury convicted her."
"I am in the habit of respecting verdicts...It is unthinkable that the jurors in Perugia could have decided to convict a girl if they had a reasonable doubt. We accept that. The American media do not," he wrote.
"Television networks, newspapers and internet sites in America are convinced that Amanda is innocent," contined Severgnini. "Why? We don't know. Did they follow all of the hearings in the trial? Did they evaluate the evidence? Did they listen to the witnesses who, what's more, testified in Italian? No, obviously: they just decided, and that's it."