Exclusive: Amanda Knox's Family Says Judge Couldn't Look Them in the Eyes

Family talks to Elizabeth Vargas after murder conviction.

December 4, 2009, 10:47 PM

PERUGIA, Italy, Dec. 5, 2009— -- The family of Amanda Knox was furious today that an Italian court convicted her of murder and said the judge, who was part of the jury and read the verdict, couldn't look them in the eye.

"I was just stunned," Knox's father, Curt Knox, told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas in an exclusive interview just hours after the jury convicted Knox, 22, of murdering roommate Meredith Kercher.

"I just looked at them; I looked at the jurors," he added. "I went down eye to eye with each one of them and just looked at them and said, 'How could you even do this with what was presented in the court of law?' And for that matter, the judge, he didn't even raise his head while he read the verdict."

Deanna Knox, Amanda Knox's younger sister, told Vargas that the judge "couldn't even look us in the eyes, or look my sister in the eyes."

The judge and the rest of the jury had just found Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, guilty in the killing of Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007. They sentenced Knox to 26 years in prison and Sollecito to 25.

Prosecutors claimed Knox committed the crime while in a rage over being criticized by Kercher.

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Curt and Deanna Knox said moments after the verdict was announced they were tormented.

The Knoxes said it was hard to watch Amanda being taken away.

"More than you know," Curt Knox said.

It was heartrending, they said, because Deanna could hear her sister "wail" as she was taken out of the courtroom. But they weren't allowed to talk to her.

"No, they wouldn't let us," he said.

"We yelled across the courtroom as they were taking her away that we love her because we couldn't see her," Deanna Knox said.

When asked if Amanda Knox heard them or looked back at them, Deanna Knox said, "We couldn't see her."

"She was in the arms of one of her attorneys," Curt Knox said.

He said they won't be able to visit Amanda until next week.

"I think she's going to be OK. We're going to get to visit her on Tuesday and make sure she knows that light's there," Curt Knox said.

After summations earlier this week, the Knox family hoped that their lawyers' arguments had convinced the six jurors and two judges that the prosecution failed to provide a convincing motive, that the DNA evidence had been mishandled and was faulty, that the alleged murder weapon didn't match the cuts on Kercher's body, and Amanda Knox hadn't acted like a guilty person, staying in Perugia after the murder rather than fleeing.

Amanda Knox's Father Hopes State Department Will Get Involved

The father made little effort to hide his contempt for the court's verdict.

"Anger, disbelief" was how Curt Knox described his reaction. "How a judicial system can even come up with a verdict like this, it's beyond me."

Deanna Knox, who is 20, said, "I feel like this trial has failed their own system. This is completely unjust. I'm in complete shock."

Curt Knox called his daughter's conviction and sentencing a "flat failure of the Italian judicial system and a failure of the city of Perugia," the university town where Amanda Knox and Kercher were attending school.

He said it was "telltale" that the court sentenced Amanda to 26 years instead of life in prison like the prosecution demanded.

"I'm not sure they really believe in what they came about," he said.

He noted that Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., condemned the sentence today and had spoken to the Italian embassy and to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the verdict.

When asked if he expected the State Department to get involved in his daughter's case, Curt Knox said, "I would be very disappointed if they didn't, very disappointed."

Deanna Knox was defiant.

"We're not accepting it," she said. "We will bring her home."

The Knox family already has spent more than $1 million in hiring a legal team and keeping a family member in Italy at all times to visit Amanda.

When asked how he will pay for an appeal and to keep someone in Italy, Curt Knox said, "We'll figure it out. She will not be left here."

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