I am now one of the more than 400 journalists who have been accredited to cover the verdict in the Amanda Knox appeals trial. It is expected on Monday. Friday was the last full day of courtroom hearings. Here is my behind the scenes look at what was going on both in and outside the courtroom yesterday and what is happening today as we continue to wait.
Friday morning began with the usual battle for position to get the best shot of Amanda entering the courtroom.
I managed to get my own photo of Amanda. She looked awful. Her mother, Edda Mellas, told APTN that she has stopped eating and sleeping.
Outside it was a clear media circus, a forest of satellite trucks and camera tripods.
The prosecution came on strong in the morning with the Deputy Public Prosecutor Manuela Comodi hammering home her picture of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as murderers. At one point I was amused that when she was talking about the DNA profiles of Raffaele and Amanda on a cigarette butt she said it is like mixing Amatriciana and Carbonara sauces. Food is always at the center in Italy.
Comodi concluded with a harsh statement saying that “these two young people– Amanda and Raffaele– have killed for no reason, but they killed and it is for that reason that they should be convicted with the maximum penalty, that luckily in Italy, is not the death penalty.”
Her comment on the death penalty was a clear nudge at the United States. Italians are feeling very sensitive about American criticism of the Italian justice system and how this case has been handled.
A lawyer on Amanda’s defense team stood up and said, “they chose the protagonist first (Amanda) and then they tried to sew a dress onto her for the role. They sewed the dress too big in parts and too small in parts, and they got the color wrong.”
Francesco Maresca, the lawyer representing the family of Meredith Kercher told the court that Meredith’s mother, brother and sister will be present on Monday for the verdict. He said they cannot afford the tickets to come, but he said to the jury “they will look you in the eye…and with their look they will ask you to confirm the earlier sentence.”
The chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said: “If you want, go ahead and believe that Rudy Guede is the only guilty one, but we do not believe in fairy tales, and neither does the court.” He also said that Amanda was, “ready to flee Italy.”
Later Amanda’s father, Curt Knox, said that Amanda has no intention of fleeing anywhere, that the situation is in the hands of the court.
Earlier in the week one of Amanda’s lawyers Carlo Della Vedova made a dramatic statement to the press declaring that Amanda has been “crucified by a media campaign that has portrayed her falsely.”
Certainly the media has been very present this case. Her parents have also made a huge effort to speak to the press and provide their version of Amanda.
There is no doubt that this case continues to get media attention beyond the norm for a small-town murder trial in Italy. The combination of a beautiful defendant from the United States, a beautiful murder victim for Britain, a romantic medieval Italian hill town, sex, and drugs has all the ingredients for a spicy story.
Both the international press and the local papers have given the trial big play.
Helpful hint here for any wannabee journalists, when you are out in the field covering a story, buy all the local papers and read every last line. The local journalists know much more than anyone else. I always make a habit of scouring the local papers in the morning.
The Italians have been impressed by NBC which has apparently sent in 20 people, including some big names, to cover the story. ABC, CBS, CNN and FOX are not far behind. The total AP team including wires, photos and television is 12.
Associated Press has put some its best reporters on this story throughout the trial, among them my colleague Alessandra Rizzo.
And of course Associated Press Television’s Paolo Santalucia has probably worked harder than anyone to provide the most well-rounded TV cover between live coverage, news edits, features, and interviews.
Woops, he’s checking facebook in that photo, but he was also editing, feeding, coordinating and doing a million other things.
Associated Press Television News has been given permission by the judge to run the verdict live on Monday. Stay tuned as we wait for Amanda.