Juror in Amanda Knox Case Says Verdict Was 'Agonizing Decision'

The family realized the verdict was guilty when Knox began to cry.

ByABC News via logo
December 7, 2009, 7:43 AM

PERUGIA, Italy Dec. 7, 2009— -- A juror in the Amanda Knox case told ABC News that reaching a verdict was an "agonizing decision" and that none of the members of the eight-person jury could sleep the night before.

"No one slept the night before ... and I think we were all -- judges included -- in tears before the verdict was read," she said.

Knox's fate was decided by two Italian judges and six jurors. After more than 11 hours of deliberations, they reached a unanimous verdict, which found Knox guilty of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the cottage they shared.

"It was hard to envision Knox doing this," she said. "But it is possible. … We can all drink too much, then get in a car and drive."

Knox was sentenced to spend 26 years in an Italian prison. Her mother, Edda Mellas, told ABC News "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas that she got to speak with her daughter this weekend, and told Knox behind bars to "have courage" because her family is still fighting for her.

"You will get out of here. Don't worry. Keep your chin up and have courage," Mellas said to her daughter.

It's courage that the family knows they must maintain.

"Our lawyers told us to have courage. We need to be strong for Amanda. We will fight for her and she will get out of here."

Watch the latest on Amanda Knox on "Nightline" Tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET

The verdict has set off an international debate over whether the Italian court convicted Knox without sufficient evidence. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she has complained to the Italian embassy and intended bring the issue to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said she had not been presented with the case yet and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said no criticism had come from the U.S. State Department.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said today that Clinton's initial comments this weekend indicated she wasn't familiar with the case.

"It's fair to say that she is following it closely now," Kelly said.

When asked, however, if the State Department felt Knox had received a fair trial, Kelly replied, "I don't have any indications to the contrary."

Clinton herself later said State would follow Knox's appeal, but did stopped short of saying she would intervene. "I stand ready to meet with anyone who wishes to discuss this case further," she said.

Mellas also told Vargas that the wait to hear the verdict was so tense that it was literally making her family sick, and when the word finally came down in a foreign language, the horror of it dawned on the family slowly.

She told Vargas how the family had to interpret the Italian verdict by other peoples' reactions. Mellas recalled the moment she knew her daughter would not be coming home to Seattle.

"[Amanda] put her head down and then she started to cry," an emotional Mellas said.

The entire Knox family, devastated by the realization that she had been found guilty of murdering her roommate, began to sob.

"I heard someone gasping in the audience back where the public stood," Knox's younger sister Deanna said.

"I heard, 'No, no, no,'" as Amanda Knox was led out of the courtroom her sister said. "Then I heard other people weeping back in the public area and I thought, 'wow.' It took me a minute, but then I could see Amanda."

A teary Mellas remembers the moment as a grief stricken blur. "It's all this really weird memory that I don't really remember. I cried. Some of the lawyers were crying. It was chaos."