PERUGIA, Italy, Nov. 21, 2009 -- The prosecutors in the Italian murder trial of Amanda Knox wrapped their case today and requested life in prison, with nine months of daytime solitary confinement, for the 22-year-old American who they believe knifed and strangled her British roommate in a grisly 2007 murder.
In his final remarks to the jury before requesting life in prison for Knox, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini described her as a narcissist, someone prone to aggressive anger, manipulative, theatrical and lacking in empathy.
After listening quietly while taking deep breaths to the request to jail her for life, Amanda Knox asked to speak. She wanted to say some things that were very important to her, she told the court.
"Meredith was my friend," Knox said, her voice cracking briefly with emotion. "I did not hate her, and it is absurd to think I would have hurt someone who was so nice to me."
Knox added that the accusations against her were "pure fantasy."
In the Italian legal system, the defendant has the right to make a statement at any time during the proceedings.
Outside the courtroom, Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, said that a request for daytime solitary confinement, as the prosecutor seeks for Knox, "is made for Mafia bosses, not for a 20-year-old with no police record." He told reporters that the prosecutor's request was "foreseeable, but very harsh -- but this is what was requested, and this is what we will challenge."
Seattle student Knox is standing trial, along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, for sexually assaulting and murdering British exchange student Meredith Kercher, 21.
The prosecution also asked for life in prison for Sollecito, with two months of daytime solitary confinement. Knox faces a tougher sentence because she is also accused of slander.
A third person, Rudy Guede, 22, was convicted to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder last October, in a short-track trial which reduced his life sentence. All three young people say they did not kill Kercher.
Kercher's body was found Nov. 2, 2007, in the house she shared with Knox in the university town of Perugia, Italy. She was found partly undressed and died from a combination of knife wounds to her throat and strangulation, according to coroners.
Prosecutor Mignini Turned to Criminologists to Boost Theories About Defendants
In his final remarks, Mignini told the judges and jurors that he had "gotten to know Amanda Knox fairly well" in the course of his interrogation of her and the duration of the trial. "And I have observed her at length in court," Mignini said.
In his description of Knox's personality, Mignini said he was quoting an evaluation of her by a well-known criminologist. When he read the evaluation, Mignini said he was struck by how it matched his impression of the accused killer.
According to this unnamed criminologist, Knox also has a tendency to develop a dislike for people who do not agree with her, and her feelings are "anesthetised."
Raffaele Sollecito's profile also fit, Mignini said, when it described him as someone who depended on others for approval, a "dependent personality." Mignini added that he also found Sollecito to be cold.
Neither defendant reacted visibly to the prosecutor's description of them.
Just before the final remarks, the court was shown a 20-minute video reconstruction made by investigators, showing what they believe was the dynamic of the murder.
Using Google maps of the town of Perugia, and avatar figures resembling Knox, Sollecito, Guede and Kercher superimposed on actual photos or digital re-creations of the scene of the crime, the video retraced events from the hours before the murder through to its aftermath.
The visual representation reinforced what Mignini had described in his reconstruction of the crime on the previous day. Autopsy photos were also included to illustrate how the injuries found on the victim's bodies were produced by the action of the three alleged killers.
Both Knox and Sollecito wielded knives, in this reconstruction, while Guede sexually molested Kercher.
Knox did not watch the video, sitting quietly in court and staring straight ahead. Sollecito did watch, without showing any reaction.
Most of this second day of closing arguments was taken up by Mignini's fellow prosecutor Manuela Comodi, who focused on the complex and controversial forensic and technical evidence in the case.
Knox's Lawyers Will Present Arguments in Early December; Verdict Expected Near Dec. 5
Addressing the jury at the end, Giuliano Mignini said, "When this moment comes, the biggest mistake is to look only at the defendants and not what they are accused of, and at the victim. This is when you should be remembering her.
"A young woman was killed for no real reason, just days before going home to visit her ailing mother. She was killed in a horrific manner, and now all her family can do is gather at the cemetery. She was literally eliminated forever," the prosecutor told jurors.
The trial will resume at the end of the month. Lawyers for Amanda Knox are scheduled to present their arguments the first two days of December. A verdict is expected around Dec. 5.