Murder Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks

Amanda Knox tells Diane Sawyer she is a changed person from six years ago.

April 29, 2013, 5:25 PM

April 30, 2013— -- Amanda Knox, convicted of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, has nightmares and traumatic memories of her four years in Italian courts and prison. But she has only warm memories of Kercher and says she would like to visit her grave one day.

Knox talked about Kercher as well as her legal ordeal in an exclusive interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer. Her recall of those years has moments of regret, anger and sadness. Also among her emotions are warm thoughts of Kercher and empathy for her family.

"I want them to know," Knox said, getting emotional, "their grief has my every respect, has the respect of my family, and we just don't want to... we don't want to invade their life and their grief."

Watch Amanda Knox in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer set to air Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

"And I really want them to understand that my need for justice for myself is not in contradiction with theirs," she said.

Knox recalled her short time, a mere six weeks, with Kercher, who was also studying in Perugia.

"She talked about how she wanted to be a journalist like her dad. And she talked about her sister. And if that's all I can give them is this memory that I have of her to add to... all of theirs that they can carry with them when she's gone."

FULL COVERAGE: The Amanda Knox Case

Knox paused at that point and added, "[I hope] that eventually I can have their permission to pay respects at her grave."

The Kercher family has made it clear they believe Knox is involved, but Knox's father, Curt, told Sawyer that he hopes the families can meet some day. "I would like to see them when they clearly, clearly understand that Amanda had nothing to do with the loss of their daughter."

The Kercher family has spoken only rarely in public about Meredith's death, but today her sister issued a statement saying they do not intend to read Knox's new memoir "Waiting to Be Heard."

"Meredith is the victim, and we are waiting to be heard," her sister Stephanie Kercher said.

Knox is still battling to convince the Italian judicial system -- and the world -- of her innocence. After nearly six years, Knox, with her freedom back on the line after a recent Supreme Court ruling ordering a new trial, is breaking her silence for the first time.

"I want the truth to come out. I want misunderstandings to be looked at. I would like to be re-considered as a person," Knox said.

In "Waiting to Be Heard," Knox writes about her conviction, life in prison, acquittal and how she has changed.

"I have been in an experience where I thought everything that I had hoped for in my life was taken away from me, and I had to redefine what mattered. And when I think about the purpose of what I wrote, I think about what I would tell my little sisters about how to live no matter what's stopping you," she said.

Knox's journey to study abroad in Perugia, Italy, in 2007 was care-free for only a six weeks before Kercher was murdered on Nov. 1.

Kercher had 47 wounds on her body, the deepest being a fatal slash to her throat. There were signs that Kercher, who was trained in karate, fought hard for her life.

"I was stunned by her death, completely bowled over because it was unfair. She was my friend, and I lost a friend," Knox said to Sawyer.

Now, nearly six years later, Knox concedes she is not the same person she was before the ordeal began, when she was 20. She thought her own personal hell was over when an Italian appeals court threw out her conviction and she came home to Seattle in 2011. But even before this latest ruling, the toll taken on her has been obvious.

"My family was expecting the old Amanda who was -- she makes goofy faces -- which was the old Amanda back. And I'm not quite as chirpy anymore."

Amanda Knox Denies Doing Jailhouse Cartwheel

Knox now is more guarded, less outgoing. She is studying creative writing at the University of Washington, but in her first days back in Seattle she has struggled to break some of her prison routines, like washing her laundry each night in a bucket. She tells her sisters some of the tricks she learned in prison: using rubber bands to shave her legs.

It was a world she was unprepared for in the days after the murder as police, the prosecutor and the press zeroed in on Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. The young couple was unaware that their every moved was watched and every phone call bugged. In the days after the murder, a famous video of Knox and Sollecito kissing outside the crime scene rocketed around the world.

Looking back, Knox explains, "It never occurred to me that I would ever be considered a suspect. Ever."

All eyes were on the young couple of just seven days. Knox's odd behavior and lack of visible grief would come back to haunt her. Investigators and press drew attention to all of her actions, like allegedly doing a cartwheel at the police station while waiting to be questioned.

"I never did a cartwheel. I did do a split," Knox admits, adding that she was stretching after sitting for hours when a police officer commented on her flexibility.

Her behavior went beyond doing a split. Knox sat in Sollecito's lap. They kissed, made faces at each other and she stuck her tongue out at him. She said she wanted to write a song about this and wrote she would kill for a pizza. The police reprimanded them and asked them to stop.

Kercher's British friends cast doubt on Knox's innocence, testifying that Knox had shown little remorse at the police station, lacked grief and was sitting on Sollecito's lap, playfully making faces while in the waiting area.

But Knox's own words proved most damning.

In the hours and days after the murder, Knox and Sollecito told police the same story of their whereabouts the night of Kercher's murder -- they had spent the night at Sollecito's apartment.

But on her fourth day of questioning by police, during an overnight interrogation, Knox's story changed. She said she was in the house that night, in the kitchen covering her ears as Kercher screamed, and that her boss, Patrick Lumumba had killed Meredith.

Lumumba, a bar owner for whom Knox worked, had sent her a text message the night Kercher was murdered telling her not to come to work. It was a holiday weekend and business was slow.

She texted Lumumba back, "See you later." Knox says police insisted the text was proof she had met up with Lumumba that night.

"When they pushed me about [Lumumba's] message, and told me to think, to remember that I had met him, I can only describe it as breaking down. I didn't know what I remember anymore. I was wracking my brain for an answer to what happened."

Knox insists police yelled at her, threatened her with 30 years in prison, cuffed the back of her head, and told her she had amnesia.

An emotional Knox recalls, "I was demolished in that interrogation."

Sollecito was interrogated in another room. He also cracked and told police Knox may have left his apartment the night of the murder.

Within hours, Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba were arrested and taken to prison. But just two weeks later, Lumumba was released because he had an airtight alibi.

ABC News contacted experts around the country who state it is documented that coerced and false confessions happen frequently, but less frequent is naming an innocent bystander.

Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, points out the danger of people being interrogated without a lawyer present is that "sometimes we end up getting false statements and false confessions."

"Innocent people do often confess to crimes they haven't done," he adds. According to the Innocence Project website, "in about 25 percent of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty."

Famed defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz agrees people do sometimes falsely confess, but "what I rarely found in my experience is innocent people pointing the finger at another innocent person, saying I didn't do it, but I was there, he did it. That's very rare, for an innocent person."

Patrick Lumumba was not there. He says because of Amanda Knox his two weeks in jail ruined his reputation and his life.

Knox is still angry that her crucial interrogation was not recorded. She says it is the only time she was questioned by police that where no recording exists. The prosecutor, Giulino Mignini, says they didn't tape her interrogation to save money, despite the fact they were bugging her and Sollecito's phone calls and conversations in waiting rooms.

Amanda Knox's Life in Prison

"And the only thing that is left is the police's word verses mine, and a couple of documents I signed when I had no lawyer present. This is what I'm up against," Knox laments.

As Knox sat in a grey, concrete prison cell, prosecutors declared that the murder was a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong. Knox, they said, was the ringleader.

The prosecution claimed they had a knife, the alleged murder weapon, with Kercher's DNA on the blade and Knox's on the handle.

They said that Kercher's bra clasp, which had been cut from the rest of the bra, had Sollecito's DNA on one prong.But police found no DNA whatsoever of Knox in Kercher's bedroom where she was killed.

While the lawyers battled over a minute scrap of what they claimed was Sollecito's DNA, there was a great deal of DNA at the murder scene that matched a local man, Rudy Guede. Guede's shoe print and hand prints were found in the victim's blood. His DNA was also on her removed clothing and her purse, which was missing credit cards and 300 euros. It was also found inside Kercher's body.

Guede had a history of drug abuse and theft. He robbed a nursery school, law office and home, at times threatening people with a knife.

Police arrested Guede, who had fled to Germany. In a secretly recorded Skype phone call with a friend before his arrest, Guede said he was at Kercher's house the night she was murdered, but that he had been in the bathroom on the toilet when Kercher was killed by an intruder.

Guede also said Knox was not at the house that night, but when asked whether Sollecito -- "the one from TV" news -- might have been there, Guede says, "I think so, but I'm not sure," according to Knox's memoir.

Knox and Sollecito stayed in prison, and the press ran with their headlines calling Knox the "angel faced killer." The case became an international media frenzy, and the eccentric girl from Seattle was in the center of it all.

In 2009, Knox and Sollecito's trial began in a medieval courtroom, the press packed inside, fighting for the perfect shot of the "American Temptress," as one headline read.

In the courtroom, Lumumba's attorney called her "a devil."

"It's one thing to be called certain things in the media, and then it's another things to be sitting in a courtroom, fighting for your life while people are calling you a devil," Knox said.

As Knox sat through her year-long trial, she listened to Mignini present a series of motives, and in the end, during his closing arguments, Mignini said there was no motive at all.

Knox was stunned when the court found her guilty of murder and sentenced her to 26 years in prison.It is a moment Knox will never forget, "I was carried out of the courtroom by the armpits, moaning that it was impossible. I just -- complete and utter disbelief."

As she remembers hearing her mother and sister wail, Knox's voice cracks with emotion.

"For all intents and purposes, I was a murderer, whether I was or not. And I had to live with the idea that would be my life. I would be one of those people who suffered an incredible, mind-boggling injustice," she said.

After her conviction, Knox says she had to rethink her life.

"I felt assassinated as if I were being sealed in a tomb. And the tomb was my life, it wasn't prison."

She says she considered suicide.

In her book, Knox writes that she often wondered what would be the breaking point to drive her to kill herself. Possibly, she thought, if she lost her appeal and her sentence was increased to life in prison, that would be it.

She says there were many ways to kill oneself in prison, and she "imagined doing them all."

Amanda Knox's Appeal and Freedom

Knox spent four years in Capanne prison, outside only one hour a day. She passed time doing sit-ups, writing letters and playing the guitar.

She says her only view to the outside world was a small window looking at a cypress tree, and she could hear women wailing through their cells all day and night.

She says her first friend was a child named Nina, whose mother was a prisoner. But it was the prison chaplain, Don Saulo, whom she says helped her survive.

He taught her how to play the piano on a keyboard she drew on a piece of paper.

She says she spent 1,427 nights in prison for a crime she did not commit.

"I had to grow up in prison for something I did not do," she insists.

She says it was her family her who got her through. She calculated that she saw them one percent of the time, but "they were there 100 percent of the time."

"I felt incredibly guilty for what they were having to sacrifice for me," she said. Her father Curt Knox estimates the family spent more than $1.5 million on legal and travel fees.

Knox drew three columns in her journal ? each one a list of the things she would do with her life based on the three possible outcomes she faced: freedom, 26 years in prison or a life sentence.

Her "life-imprisonment list" included:

Stop writing letters home.Ask family to forget me?Suicide?

While awaiting the court's ruling on her appeal, Knox imagined her mother, Edda Mellas, going home to Seattle alone. Thinking of this worst case scenario -- her mother leaving Italy without her -- she wanted to find a way to comfort her.Knox wrote her mother a letter -- or maybe a goodbye note -- that would arrive after the appeal verdict.

On Oct. 3, 2011, Knox was acquitted of murder and freed immediately. She flew 6,000 miles home to Seattle the next day.Knox's final letter to her mother arrived in Seattle not long after she did.

The beginning reads, "I'm writing this letter in case you come home and I'm not there with you to receive it, just in case we didn't win and I won't be going home for a long time."

Amanda Knox's memoir, "Waiting to be Heard," can be ordered HERE and

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events