Amanda Knox Faces Slander Charge, Could Face 6 More Years

Amanda Knox, serving 26 years for murder, was back in court in Italy today.

ROME June 1, 2010— -- A tense Amanda Knox entered an Italian courtroom today for the first time since she was sentenced for murder to face a new charge that could add serious time to her 26 year prison term.

Knox, already convicted of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, was brought to court to faces charges of slandering police for testifying in court last June that police had hit her on the head while interrogating her in November 2007.

A slander conviction could add up to six years to Knox's prison sentence and would likely carry a heavy fine.

Her court appearance today was the first time Knox had left the Capanne prison outside Perugia since she was convicted of murder on Dec. 5, and the first time she had been seen in public in six months.

Looking somewhat tense, she sported a new, boyishly- short hair cut and wore white pants and a yellow blouse. Her lawyers told reporters that Knox had cut her hair very short two days after her conviction.

"She had wanted to cut her hair for a while," her lawyer Maria Del Grosso said, "but she waited until after her sentence because she was afraid that all people would talk about was her hair."

"The focus should be on the legal aspects of this case, and not on Amanda's look," said Del Grosso.

Another attorney for Knox, Luciano Ghirga, said his client "was very tense and worried" about today's hearing and had hoped to make a statement in court.

"She wanted to make a statement in court today," said Ghirga. "She is sad about the presumption of guilt surrounding her."

Her plans for speaking up were delayed, however, because the hearing on the slander charge was postponed until Oct. 1 after her lawyers filed a formal objection to the judge assigned to the case, Claudia Matteini.

Knox's lawyers objected that Matteini was not suitable because she already expressed judgment of Knox when she confirmed her arrest in 2007. Matteini also twice denied Knox's request for house arrest. Ghirga said that they felt the objection was necessary "especially for Amanda's peace of mind."

Amanda Knox No Longer Has Prison Job

Knox's lawyers told reporters outside the courthouse that she does not understand the slander charge because she did not accuse anyone, and simply told things as they were.

But when she testified in the course of her murder trial last June that police had hit her, Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, officially noted in court that she was making an accusation against police. The police officers, who also testified, denied Knox's claims.

Knox's parents have also been accused in Italy of slandering the police because repeated their daughter's description of her interrogation on a British newspaper.

After a lengthy trial last year Knox, 22, and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 26, were convicted respectively to 26 and 25 years in jail for sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher. They have appealed their conviction, and a fall date for the appeal trial is expected to be announced soon.

A third person, Rudy Guede, 23, was also convicted of the murder in a separate trial. His sentence was reduced from 30 years to 16 on appeal.

Knox's lawyers said she no longer has her prison job – collecting money from inmates for their shopping – but that she is doing unpaid translations from Italian to English and vice-versa for the University of Seattle. She also has been allowed a computer which she uses to continue her studies at the University of Seattle.

She reads a lot, they said, including poetry and works by Italian author Alberto Moravia, who is best known for novels "The Conformist" and "Boredom," which is titled "The Empty Canvas" in the U.S.

Amanda Knox's step-father, Chris Mellas, was present at Tuesday's hearing in Perugia. He has been in Italy for several months, and visits Knox in jail twice a week.

He told an AP Television reporter that "Amanda is doing pretty good." He also said "the truth is the truth, why would you change it? She was hit, that is how it is."

The Perugia court of Appeals will decide on June 17th whether or not to substitute judge Matteini for the Oct. 1 hearing.

Enzo Beretta from Perugia contributed this report.