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Amanda Knox 'crucified' in media, says lawyer

Amanda Knox is an innocent girl who has been "crucified" in the public eye, her lawyer argued today.

The 24-year-old American was convicted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher on her year abroad in Perugia, Italy, and is appealing against the verdict.

As defence lawyers made their closing arguments in court in the city today, Carlo Dalla Vedova, representing Knox, described her as a "girl who has had a tsunami, a tornado hit her" and sweep away her life.

He said: "Knox has been crucified in a public square, subjected to the most sinister of speculations. All, regardless of their nationalities, have offended Amanda Knox."

Speaking before the hearing started today, Knox's stepfather Chris Mellas said he was trying not to think about the appeal verdict, which is due on Monday.

He said: "Edda (Knox's mother) is also trying to not think about it. It ruins your sleeping and eating if you do. We will be happy if we have a good verdict.

"Otherwise I will continue to live here and support Amanda as I have done for the last year."

Mr Dalla Vedova told the appeals court Knox had been the victim of a "tragic judicial case" and has spent more than 1,000 days behind bars as a result.

He urged the jurors not to be afraid to recognise that the lower court that convicted her had made a mistake.

"That's exactly why we have appeals - courts can make mistakes," he said. "Nobody is infallible."

The University of Washington student was sentenced to 26 years in prison in 2009 for the murder, along with her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was jailed for 25 years.

Like Knox, he denies any wrongdoing and is also appealing against his conviction.

University of Leeds student Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was stabbed to death in what prosecutors say began as a sexual assault.

Her semi-naked body was found in her bedroom on November 2 2007, partially covered by a duvet.

A third person, small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede from the Ivory Coast, was also convicted of the murder and sexual violence in separate proceedings but had his 30-year prison sentence reduced to 16 years on appeal.