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Amanda Knox lawyers make final arguments

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A lawyer for Knox says she "is very afraid but her heart is full of hope"
  • Another lawyer urges the jury to absolve Knox as he wraps up his closing argument
  • A verdict in the appeal will not come before Monday, the judge says
  • Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of killing Briton Meredith Kercher

Perugia, Italy (CNN) -- A lawyer for Amanda Knox said Thursday the only option for the jury considering her murder appeal in Italy is to clear her of guilt.

Knox's lawyers gave their final arguments in Perugia Thursday in an effort to counter prosecutors' portrayal of her as a cunning "femme fatale."

Lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova told the jury 'that the only possible decision to take is that of absolving Amanda Knox," as he wrapped up his closing argument.

He said the court had already seen "there is not trace of Amanda Knox in the room where murder took place."

Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are fighting to overturn their 2009 convictions for the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox's British housemate who was found with her throat slashed two years earlier.

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The judge said there will be no ruling in the case until after defendant statements on Monday.

The second of Knox's lawyers to speak, Luciano Ghirga, said Knox was "very afraid but her heart is full of hope and she hopes to return to freedom."

Her "image was massacred" by the media and the attacks on her character started before the trial, he said, adding that he considered her as a daughter.

Concluding an emotional appearance, he appealed to the jury to put themselves in the shoes of Knox's family -- a counterpoise to the words of appeals court prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola, who asked the jury to put themselves in the shoes of Kercher's family at the start of the closing arguments a week ago.

The "clan Knox" -- as Knox's family have been referred to -- are not part of some rumored U.S. conspiracy to put pressure on the Italian courts to release her, Ghirga said. Rather, "they are parents and they deserve respect."

The lawyer also praised the court's work, saying he felt Knox's rights had finally been respected.

Urging the jury not to let innocent people stay in jail, Vedova earlier detailed what he called many "mistakes" made in the investigation into Kercher's death.

When Knox was arrested and interrogated, she was not allowed a translator and was discouraged from getting a lawyer, Vedova said.

"'That night Amanda Knox's right to defend herself was denied," he said. "She was just a young girl, first time out of the country. She didn't speak Italian."

Vedova argued that some of the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution should be thrown out.

He said some material was contaminated as a result of poor practice by police, including supposed traces of mixed blood in the bathroom sink shared by the two girls. The prosecution's use of alleged bloody footprints in their case was also wrong, he said.

As for the knife used to kill Kercher, a key piece of evidence, Vedova told the court there was a "concentration of nothingness, a fantasy" in the prosecution's arguments.

He ridiculed a theory that Sollecito had not disposed of the knife because he was concerned his landlady would notice it was missing, asking: "What kind of a killer would think about this after committing a murder?"

Vedova claimed forensics experts who examined computers belonging to Knox and Sollecito had destroyed the machines and with them evidence that was certain to be favorable to the defendants.

This included photographs of Knox and Kercher together that demonstrated they were friends, he said.

Showing the court panoramic pictures of the villa Knox shared with Kercher, Vedova rejected the prosecution claim that a fake robbery had been staged by someone inside the house to try to cover up what had happened.

He also suggested the original court had taken sides over some of the evidence, choosing to accept as credible some witnesses whose testimony went against Knox and rejecting others who were in her favor.

Knox's attorneys' statements follow arguments presented this week by the lawyer of her co-defendant.

Lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said Tuesday that Knox is not the character the media has painted her to be, and urged a jury to acquit Knox and Sollecito of murdering Kercher.

Bongiorno compared Knox to the voluptuous cartoon character Jessica Rabbit, who protests, "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way," in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

Bongiorno said the whole trial was based on DNA evidence "on which mistakes were made," and urged the jury to "abandon imagined fantasies" and acquit the pair.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Sollecito got 25.

In her closing arguments, Bongiorno said there was no physical trace of Knox or Sollecito in the room where Kercher was found murdered.

"The room speaks only of Rudy" Guede, the other man convicted separately of killing Kercher, Bongiorno told the jury.

Knox and Sollecito's defense teams have suggested Guede, who is already serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, could have been the sole killer.

Evidence that Guede was in the room shows that "no one could enter that room and not leave any trace," Bongiorno said.

And she hammered home attacks on DNA evidence that has been a key part of the appeal.

She, too, said police could have contaminated the crime scene or the evidence, playing video from the police investigation to make her point.

Knox and Sollecito are appealing the convictions together, having been convicted in a joint trial.

CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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