Amanda Knox, Convicted of Murder, Calls Her Family Once a Week

Amanda Knox's parents talk with Oprah Winfrey about her life in prison.

February 23, 2010, 11:44 AM

Feb. 23, 2010 — -- Life in an Italian prison for convicted murderer Amanda Knox has good days and bad days. One of the very worst, her father said today, was the day she cried in his arms for 45 minutes.

For Knox's father, Curt Knox, the memory of his daughter's despair was so painful that he walked away from Oprah Winfrey's cameras because his own emotions overwhelmed him.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, the parents of Amanda Knox, relived on "The Oprah Winfrey" show today the bittersweet moments they have with their daughter who was sentenced in December to 26 years in prison for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

"There are days where the visits are really, really nice, and then there are days when it's extremely tough, and you do the best you can," an emotional Curt Knox told Winfrey.

The day that his daughter just sat and cried, Curt Knox said that he was trying to explain to her why she is "in this position when she is completely innocent."

"She asks, 'Why is this happening to me? I haven't done anything, I've told the truth.' How do you explain that to her?" said Mellas. "How do you explain that mistakes happen and she's in the middle of a massive mistake?"

"A good day is when she comes out bubbly to the visitation room, and you get to hold her and hug her and listen about what she's doing and how she's passing her time," her father said.

The University of Washington, where Knox was a language student before her arrest, has developed an independent study program for her and corresponds with her through the mail, grading her papers and allowing her to work toward graduation.

"She's working towards her graduation from college because she will get out of there," Curt Knox said.

Amanda Knox was spending a semester in Perugia in November 2007 when her roommate was murdered. Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in December of sexual assault and murder in Kercher's death. Knox was sentenced to 26 years and Sollecito was given 25 years.

A third person, Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, was convicted in an earlier trial and given a 30-year prison sentence, but that was later reduced to 14 years.

The Knox family plans to appeal the ruling once the judge's written verdict is released early next month.

Also wrenching for the family are the weekly phone calls the family gets from prison.

Every Friday night, the Knox family gathers at their Seattle, Wash., home to wait for Amanda's call the next morning, which lasts only 10 minutes.

"Ten minutes goes very quickly," said Mellas, who asked Oprah's producers to stop filming during the phone call they received during the taping in case something was said that might make Italian authorities take away the weekly calls.

"Having to say goodbye is really hard, you want to talk to her forever," said Mellas. "But we always go away from these phone calls pretty upbeat because she sounds so good."

During that particular call, Mellas said that Amanda asked her family to "tell Oprah I love her" and to thank everyone for their support. Mellas says her daughter receives "hundreds" of letters, not all of which she has time to respond to."

"It's bittersweet," said Mellas of the calls. "It's really lovely to hear her, she always makes a point of being upbeat. And then she's gone and you wait a week for the next phone call," she said.

Amanda Knox's Sisters Talk About Murder Conviction

Deanna Knox, Amanda's 21-year-old sister, told Winfrey that she struggles with being a good role model for her younger half-siblings, Ashley, 15, and Delaney, 11.

"I want to be as strong as I can, but Amanda is the best at that. She's always going to be the older sister, I'm just the substitute," said Deanna.

Deanna Knox said that her sister's arrest, trial and conviction has essentially put her life "on pause," forcing her to drop out of school and get a full-time job.

"My life has been put on hold," she said, "But it's not something I just do. My whole family does it. We're just all in a waiting period, waiting for her to come home."

Eleven-year-old Delaney told Oprah that with Amanda in Italy, her family feels incomplete.

"If I had one wish I'd want her to come home and have this never have happened," she said.

"I cry because I don't have my sister here," said Amanda's other half-sibling, 15-year-old Ashley. "I stay strong for Amanda because I know I have to."

All three girls said that they try not to cry in front of their parents because they know they worry so much about Amanda.

"I don't want my Mom or Dad to know that I'm sad because I feel like it gets them sad and makes them worry about me and they need to be worrying about Amanda and how she's doing," said Ashley.

Amanda Knox's Family Says Italian Media Made Stories Up

Curt Knox and Mellas have maintained their daugther's innocence throughout her 15 month trial, and today said that they believe it was the Italian media that made the case so hard to win.

"The media blows things completely out of proportion and literally makes things up over there," said Curt Knox. "In the U.S. we're accustomed to knowing there are two sources to each story. Over there you can have anyone make up anything and they'll print it."

Curt Knox said that the media took words and phrases from Amanda's MySpace page -- like the nickname "Foxy Knoxy," which Amanda said was given to her when she was 8 years old -- out of context.

"They took [stuff on her Myspace page] and created a person that did not exist," said Amanda's father.

The Knox family has never spoken to the Kerchers, partly due to advice from their lawyers, and also because Curt Knox says that he's not sure it's a phone call "they'd like to receive."

"We still have a chance with Amanda, and they don't with their daughter," he said, adding that the conversation might be best to take place when the Kerchers are positive Amanda is innocent.

Asked by Winfrey whether there was ever a "shadow of a doubt" that their daughter is innocent, both Curt and Mellas responded, "Never."