ROME April 15, 2010 -- The Italian prosecutors who sent American college student Amanda Knox to prison for 26 years filed an appeal of the case today, asking the court for a tougher sentence.
The appeal came just days before Knox's lawyers are expected to file their own appeal of her conviction for murdering British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007.
The prosecution did not specify the sentence it wants imposed on Knox, but by arguing that the court should have considered an aggravating circumstance in handing out Knox's punishment, a life sentence would be almost automatic.
Knox's family told ABC New today they are "quite disappointed in the decision of the prosecution's office to pursue an appeal against Amanda and ... to ask for life in prison."
"From all outward appearances, it seems like more of a harassment," said a member of the Knox family.
Theodore Simon, a lawyer for Knox, said her appeal will be filed shortly and it "will profoundly address the wrongfulness of her conviction and recognize the futility of the prosecution's appeal."
Knox was convicted along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito on Dec. 5, 2009. Sollecito's lawyer submitted his appeal today.
Once all the appeals have been handed in by the deadline of April 20, the court in Perugia, Italy, will schedule the new trial before a six member jury and two judges. It is not expected to take place until this fall.
A third person, Rudy Guede, 23, was also convicted of participating with Knox and Sollecito in the murder. He was convicted to 30 years in a separate trial, but his sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.
Amanda Knox Prosecutors Want Life Sentence
In their appeal, prosecutors Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi say that while the judges reconstructed the crime and the defendants' responsibility "perfectly," the judges did not properly consider an important "aggravating circumstance," and were too free in considering attenuating circumstances for Knox and Sollecito.
The aggravating circumstance is essentially a lack of a motive. In their explanation for the murder convictions of Knox and Sollecito, the Italian judges wrote that the crime was not pre-meditated and happened at the spur of the moment in a drug-fueled escalation of a sexual assault against Kercher by the three defendants.
No plausible motive was suggested, with the judges pointing out Knox did not feel animosity for her roommate.
In the Italian legal system a lack of a motive or reason for committing a crime, what is called a crime done for "futile reasons," is a serious aggravating circumstance which adds years to a conviction.
The prosecutors also objected to the judges' consideration of attenuating circumstances for Knox and Sollecito.
The judges in their sentencing report noted that Knox and Sollecito had no previous criminal record, were not nasty to others, that they were diligent students, and were inexperienced, immature and far from their families. The judges also stated that the fact that they covered Kercher's body after they killed her was a sign of remorse.
Prosecutors, however, pointed out that Knox was fined in Seattle for "a university party organized by the defendant?with alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and rock throwing." They also wrote that Knox's behavior after the murder indicates a "singular coldness."