A Tale of Two Cultures: Amanda Knox Case Reveals a Stark Divide

U.S. anger, doubt focus on Italian courts and Italians don't like it.

PERUGIA, Italy, Dec. 6, 2009— -- The Italian lawyers for U.S. college student Amanda Knox say their client has lost a battle but not the war. They're already preparing to appeal her murder conviction.

But last week's verdict has deepened a sharp cultural divide.

The Italian and British media generally have supported the outcome but it was denounced by many U.S. analysts. Some Italians have called Americans arrogant for questioning the result and the Italian legal process.

The jury ultimately gave Knox a 26-year sentence for murder and other counts rather than the life sentence that prosecutors had requested. Knox, 22, could serve considerably fewer years in jail with time off for good behavior.

But she had hoped for an acquittal.

"She said, 'As soon as I heard the first guilty sentence, I fell into my arms and couldn't hear anything,'" her younger sister, Deanna Knox, told ABC News after visiting Amanda Knox in jail. "She said she heard us crying behind her and she tuned everything out and just cried."

Knox's former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, also was found guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher Nov. 1, 2007.

The verdict capped an 11-month trial before a jury that was not screened for bias and was allowed to read newspapers and watch TV reports, many of them negative toward Knox.

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U.S. Senator: Knox Jury Seemed 'Prejudiced'

A senator from Knox's home state of Washington has questions about the Italian justice system and wonders whether Knox got a fair hearing from an impartial jury.

"I'm not sure that's what she got," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "I think what happened [Friday] is we had a decision in which it seems the overall impression of Amanda Knox by the press in Italy and the overwhelming amount of attention given this case may have prejudiced the jury."

Cantwell will contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the case, she said. She also plans to contact the European Union to encourage it to pressure Italy during the appeals process and already has been in touch with the Italian prime minister.

"I didn't believe she had a fair trial," Cantwell added. "And I think it's important for both of our countries to make sure that justice is served and that there is a rule of law and a standard that people believe in."

Clinton told ABC News' "This Week" that she has not yet taken up the case.

"I honestly haven't had time to even examine that," she said. "I've been immersed in what we're doing in Afghanistan. Of course, I'll meet with Sen. Cantwell or anyone who has a concern but I can't offer any opinion about that at this time."

Knox Sister: Judge 'Couldn't Even Look Us in the Eyes'

Knox and her family, which had flown from Seattle to support her in Perugia, were among those on edge as the verdict was delivered late Friday.

As Knox was whisked off to jail after being found guilty, her family had no chance to say goodbye.

"We yelled across the courtroom as they were taking her away that we love her," Deanna Knox said.

Deanna Knox has told ABC News that the judge, who was part of the jury and read the verdict, "couldn't even look us in the eyes, or look my sister in the eyes" as he did so.

Deanna Knox and Amanda Knox's father, Curt Knox, initially were turned away when they tried to visit Knox in jail Saturday. But, a few hours later, the entire family was allowed in.

Afterwards, Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said her daughter was stunned.

"We are all in shock," Mellas said, her eyes welling with tears. "We told her she is going to get out of here, it's going to take a little longer. ... She's strong.

Knox's conviction and long sentence may have shocked her family but for some people who've followed the complex case, the outcome said more about the prosecutor and the media than the evidence.

"People here in this town [Perugia] have been reading these stories ... 'Sex Game Gone Wrong,' 'Drug Fueled Sex Game,'" said Nina Burleigh of Time magazine. "They believe that scenario is real, that it's true."

Much of the U.S. reaction to the case has focused on the lack of a clear motive for the crime and no forensic evidence linking Knox to the room where the murder occurred.

"A lot of people think that this verdict has a lot to do with the power of the prosecutor, the power of the police in this town and the fact that once this train started to roll ... the jury and the judge in this case were very leery of stopping it," Burleigh said.

Victim Meredith Kercher's Brother 'Pleased' by Verdict

The day after the court conviction, Kercher's family told an assembled media throng that they are relieved and satisfied by the guilty verdicts but not exultant.

"We're pleased that we got the decision but it's not a time for celebration," said Lyle Kercher, Meredith Kercher's brother. "[It is] not a moment of triumph.

"At the end of the day, we're gathered here because our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us," he added. "Of course, there were two very young people who have been sentenced [Friday] to a very long time behind bars."

As for Knox, the appeal process will be lengthy and expensive for her parents, who already have spent their life's savings on their daughter's defense.

ABC News' Jennifer Parker, George Stephanopoulos and Sonia Gallego in Perugia, Italy, contributed to this report.