Profile: Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox in court in Perugia, Italy, 27 June 2011 Amanda Knox is seen here in court in Perugia in June 2011

Amanda Knox served four years in an Italian prison for the murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007, always insisting on her innocence.

In 2011, she was acquitted on the basis of DNA evidence but prosecutors successfully appealed and her acquittal was struck down.

The appeal process has now been re-run and she has again been found guilty and sentenced to 28 years and six months in jail.

Her then boyfriend, Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, also had his acquittal over the killing struck down and the fresh appeal hearing upheld his original guilty verdict and sentenced him to 25 years.

Knox, 26, was not required to be present for the appeals process, which was held in absentia. She is at university in her home state of Washington.

During her time in Italy, her private life was picked apart relentlessly both in court and in the media.

'Mask of a murderer'

The facts of the case are that Miss Kercher's body was found in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and others in Perugia, an Italian university town where the two young women were exchange students. Her throat had been slashed.

Prosecutors argue that Miss Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone wrong.

Both Knox and Sollecito denied any guilt, saying they were not even in the apartment that night, although they admitted having smoked marijuana and that their memories may have been clouded.

Police search the house where the murder occurred in Perugia, Italy, 3 November 2011 Knox said she was not in the house when Ms Kercher was killed

In court in Italy, Knox said she feared "having the mask of a murderer forced on to" her skin.

Her seemingly innocent insouciance contrasted gratingly with the gory crime and general preconceptions of what a murderer should look like, Dan Bell wrote for BBC News in 2010.

The explanation offered by prosecutors and feverish media was that she was that most-loved of villains - the middle-class monster whose appearance hides a diabolical soul, he said.

One Italian commentator described her as having "the face of an angel but the eyes of a killer".

A lawyer reportedly accused her of being "dirty inside and out", a "she-devil, a diabolical person focused on sex, drugs and alcohol, living life to the extreme and borderline".

'Inappropriate' reaction

Elements of her reaction to the murder and her lifestyle in Italy appear to have driven this determination to demonise Knox.

As she waited to be questioned in a police station, she reportedly "did the splits and a cartwheel in one of the rooms", according to a senior police official, quoted by the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Meredith Kercher (undated photo released by Italian police) Meredith Kercher was discovered with her throat cut

"I told them it was not appropriate," the official, Domenico Giacinto Profazio, later said in court.

Reporters who dug up her past life in Seattle found the University of Washington student had been fined in 2007 for her role in a drunken party that police were called to.

A picture was painted of a "party girl" who abused drink and drugs and had an active sex life.

It emerged that she had written a short story on a social networking site about a man who drugs and rapes a young girl. In it, one character remarks: "A thing you have to know about chicks is that they don't know what they want."

In letters to his father from prison, Raffaele Sollecito wrote: "The Amanda I know... lives a carefree life... Her only thought is the pursuit of pleasure."

But he added: "Even the thought that she could be a killer is impossible for me."

After his release, Sollecito said they were no longer in a relationship and Knox had found a new boyfriend.

'Heads held high'

She has been living back in her home city Seattle and studying creative writing, said David Marriott, the Knox family media adviser, quoted by the New York Times.

A book she wrote, Waiting to Be Heard, was published in April 2013. The memoir is a vivid personal account of the difficulties of prison life in Italy, complete with claims about inappropriate behaviour by staff.

But in other documents written at the time of her incarceration, she was more sanguine about her experience, journalist Andrea Vogt wrote for BBC News last year.

Around the same time as the book launch, she gave her first interview since leaving prison, to US broadcaster ABC, saying claims that she is a "she-devil" and "heartless manipulator" are all wrong.

"I was in the courtroom [in Italy] when they were calling me 'devil'," Knox said in the interview.

Amanda Knox's family after paying her a visit in prison in Perugia on 5 December 2009 The Knox family has paid huge sums of money in the fight to acquit Amanda

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

"For all intents and purposes, I was a murderer - whether I was or not. And I had to live with the idea that that would be my life."

Her family have stood by her, reportedly spending huge sums of money on lawyers and publicists, as well as travel and living costs, during the fight to free their daughter.

They had helped fund their daughter's year in Italy in order to further her Italian, German and creative writing studies.

Another image of Knox at the time of the murder is that of a non-drinker and non-smoker, who declared her favourite pursuits to be yoga and backpacking.

This was a young woman who listed among her favourite films Shrek and The Full Monty, and who liked listening to The Beatles and reading Harry Potter books.

Book cover of Amanda Knox's Waiting To Be Heard Ms Knox's memoir provides a vivid account of prison life in Italy

On a tribute website, family and friends wrote about the "joiner" who excelled at sports and school plays; a "smart, fun, affectionate and loyal" girl who bought sandwiches for homeless people and nursed sick friends.

Written appeal

In a statement last year, reacting to news of the appeals process, Knox said: "No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity."

Days ahead of the retrial, which began in September, Knox announced she would not return to Italy for the process in an interview with NBC.

"I thought about what it would be like to live my entire life in prison and to lose everything, to lose what I've been able to come back to and rebuild,'' she told the news network.

She later wrote a five-page email, which was read out in court, insisting she "didn't kill Meredith" but was afraid to appear in person for fear of wrongful conviction.

"I am not present in court because I am afraid. I am afraid that the vehemence of the prosecution will make an impression on you, that their smoke will get in your eyes and blind you."

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