Amanda Knox Appeals for Freedom in Prison Letters and Legal Briefs

Knox prison letters show the strain of more than three years in a cell.

November 23, 2010, 12:52 PM

PERUGIA, Italy Nov. 24, 2010— -- Amanda Knox returned to an Italian court today hoping to convince a new Italian jury to overturn her murder conviction and set aside her 26 year prison sentence, but new prison letters obtained by ABC News show the strain of her life in prison.

Letters written from her prison cell to a member of the Italian parliament who has visited her in jail and has written a book about her suggest the Seattle woman is battling a bad case of the blues after more than three years in prison, but is trying to keep up her hopes.

In a poem included in a letter to Italian MP Rocco Girlanda, Knox writes that her life "has a rainbow running through it" and talks about a "winding road home through the wind and rain."

"I'm singing through the blues and the violet/ Until the day when I'll be home again," she writes.

The view of Knox came as she returned to court today in a first step of the appeal of her conviction for murdering her English roommate Meredith Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007, and overturning a 26 year prison sentence.

Prosecutors also appealed her sentencing today, asking that it be increased to life in prison.

After a brief court appearance, the appeal trial was delayed until Dec. 11.

Knox's family said it was particularly difficult since it was the day before Thanksgiving.

"Every holiday is just, it's painful," Knox's mother Edda Mellas told "Good Morning America" today. "There's always an empty seat... The holidays are always tough."

Mellas acknowledged that her daughter was struggling with the appeal. "I know that she's obviously nervous. I mean she's facing an appeal, she's been wrongly convicted. So all of this is really hard for her," she said.

In letters to Girlanda, Knox thanks him for "the means to come alive intellectually." She tells Girlanda that he has "given me the gift of your hopes" and "shown me friendship, respect and understanding when I needed it most."

Knox ends some of her letters by quoting a line from an Italian pop song, "I know I am not alone even when I am alone."

The letters are adorned with peace signs. Next to her signature on one letter is a heart and inside the heart is a peace sign.

One note to Girlanda is written on a post card that shows Mount Hood in Oregon where Knox says she loves to go camping.

Corrado Maria Daclon, who accompanied Girlanda on his prison visits and helped Girlanda write a book about Knox, told ABC News they last visited a week ago. Daclon said Knox was "very worried and tense" as the appeal got closer.

Knox's defense attorney Luciano Ghirga today said his client is "dispirited and stressed."

Amanda Knox Returns to Court

Knox looked worried and serious as she entered the Hall of Frescoes, the courtroom where her trial took place last year in Perugia, Italy.

There are six new jurors, five women and one man and two new judges, president Claudio Patillo Hellmann and an assisting judge.

The Seattle college student, who was 20 at the time, was arrested by Italian police on Nov. 6, 2007 and charged with murdering Kercher.

Denied the option of house arrest, Knox, now 23, has not left prison since except to attend the murder trial that ended with her conviction and 26 year prison sentence.

Knox was convicted last December along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, of sexually assaulting Kercher and then killing her by slashing her throat.

Sollecito, who is also appealing his case, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. A third person convicted of taking part in the murder was Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede. He was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but that term was reduced to 16 years on appeal.

Knox has spent the last three years in a 129 square foot prison cell in the outskirts of Perugia, Italy.

"The long pre-emptive custody has broken down the young woman," Knox's lawyers said in a motion filed earlier this month as part of their appeal. Ghirga described Knox as "worried, tense" ahead of the appeal, and "exhausted by three years in prison."

"Amanda says prison is like not living because nothing changes. She says everything is the same incessantly," her stepfather Chris Mellas told ABC News earlier this month.

Her family said that Knox has had trouble sleeping as the appeal date approached. She was apprehensive, but hopeful, they said.

Amanda Knox's Legal Team Challenges Forensic Evidence Against Her

Key to Knox's appeal is her legal team's request that the prosecution's forensic evidence be reviewed independently. They are challenging whether Kercher's DNA was found a knife from Sollecito's kitchen, and whether police properly collected evidence, particularly a bra clasp which contained Sollecito's DNA.

The defense will also attack the prosecution's shifting version of a motive for the killing which ranged from a sex game gone wrong to a personal feud over Knox's boyfriends and hygiene.

In the appeal, Knox's lawyers said "the motive, a fundamental aspect of a serious crime, is basically absent."

Her defense team was also encouraged by a written conclusion of the case by Judge Giancarlo Massei appears to contradict the prosecution's argument that Kercher's murder was the result of Knox's explosive rage at her "prissy" roommate who complained about Knox's hygiene and for bringing male friends to their Perugia apartment late at night.

Prosecutors claimed during the trial the assault was initiated by Knox, but the judge wrote that Kercher's death had an "erotic, sexual, violent" motive that was initiated by Guede "giving in to his lust." When Kercher turned him down, Knox and Sollecito joined in the effort to overpower Kercher because it "could have seemed particularly exciting," the report states.

According to the report by Massei and his assistant judge, the murder was not planned or premeditated and not the result of resentment of the part of Knox or Sollecito towards Kercher, as the prosecutor had maintained.

The appeal will be considered by a jury of two judges and six jurors.

"It's a real second chance," criminal defense attorney Alessandra Batassa told ABC News. "You can ask in your appeal for new evidence, new witnesses and you can try to demonstrate you are innocent one more time."

Chris Mellas said Knox's days involve reading, an hour she is allowed to exercise and some socialization time in the afternoon when her prison door is unlocked and she can mingle with other prisoners. They often play cards or just talk among themselves.

"Once a week they have choir. Amanda is singing in the Christmas show this year. She is singing soprano – in Italian," he said.

Knox is a voracious reader and recently she has taken up art.

"Amanda is doing a lot more art. She is a talented artist. She only has access to colored pencils, markers and paper. She is doing a lot of drawings of the family and sending them to us," said her mother Edda Mellas.

Knox has received permission to continue her studies and is taking classes through the University of Washington in creative writing. She hopes to complete her college degree in English.

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