Amanda Knox Has 'Lost Her Serenity' in Prison

American student leaves prison for first time in months to face new charges.

ByABC News
September 30, 2010, 6:45 PM

PERUGIA, Italy Oct. 1, 2010— -- A worried looking Amanda Knox briefly left the Italian prison that has been her home for almost three years to attend a hearing today on charges that she slandered Italian police during her 2009 murder trial.

The prison van carrying Knox was driven straight into the basement of the courthouse in Perugia, Italy, where a throng of journalists, many American and British, waited to get a glimpse of her. But the hearing was behind closed doors, and journalists and the public were kept out.

One person who had access to the courthouse said Knox was in a small courtroom in the company of her lawyers, and looked pale and a little worried. Her boyish haircut had grown out somewhat, and she was crisply dressed in a white shirt and black pants.

A lawyer for Knox, Luciano Ghirga, said the prolonged legal battles are taking on toll on Knox. Besides facing the slander charge, she is bracing for an appeal next month of her murder conviction for the stabbing death of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007.

Ghirga said his client "is worried about the upcoming appeal." He added, "She has lost her good cheer and her serenity."

The stress was mirrored in the face of Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, who told ABC News' "Good Morning America" today, "It's three years, it's horrible." Mellas struggled to hold back tears as she spoke.

Curt Knox said prison has changed his daughter. "The naivete that she went over there with is gone," he told GMA.

"It's hard to sit there knowing you're innocent... She is singing in a choir with a number of other inmates and will be part of the Christmas celebration," Mellas said.

The father added that prison officials have offered tranquilizers to help Knox cope with prison. "Amanda has refused to take any pills from them," he said.

From behind prison walls, Knox has also watched a growing business emerge around her. There are several books about her out by lawyers, a fellow inmate and journalists, and at least two movies are in development.