Family and friends defend Amanda Knox

Nearly two months after UW study abroad student Amanda Knox was taken into custody for her alleged involvement in the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, her family is finally breaking its silence.

“This was a horrible crime, but I couldn’t understand why immediately Amanda was painted in this horrible light, where she was unrecognizable,” Knox’s mother Edda Mellas said in an exclusive interview with ABC’s 20/20 set to air Feb. 1 at 10 p.m.

Kercher, an exchange student from Leeds University, was found dead in her bedroom Nov. 2, half-clothed and with her throat slit. She is believed to have died a “relatively slow and agonizing death” the night before between 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to police reports.

Knox is being held in an Italian penitentiary, along with Italian student Raffaele Sollecito and Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede. A three-panel judge ruled that Knox had to remain in Italy until the investigation was resolved, as she posed a potential flight risk.

Knox’s family and friends claim that the international media frenzy surrounding the crime has blown certain details out of proportion.

“They (the media) try to portray her as a crazy, psychotic sex maniac and none of that’s true; it couldn’t be more than 180 degrees from the case,” her friend Andrew Sclider told ABC’s Good Morning America.

Her friends criticized media outlets for turning her soccer nickname from when she was 12, “Foxy Knoxy,” into a slanderous depiction of an American party girl.

“The media took all of these things off of her MySpace very out of context and applied them [so] they could twist her story how they wanted to,” Sclider said.

Knox’s friends described her as an optimist, even when incarcerated.

“She sings a lot,” her friend Madison Paxton said. “She loves the Beatles, and we were told that when this first happened, and was in jail, she would go outside and sing Let it Be a lot.”

Paxton disapproved of how several media outlets have depicted Knox’s relationship with Sollecito.

“It’s not like they were some star-crossed lovers that the media is trying to make them out to be,” she said.

Knox’s family was aware of the relationship between the two.

“He looked like Harry Potter, and that’s what she liked about him,” Amanda’s sister Deanna Knox said.

Recent DNA evidence has uncovered Sollecito’s DNA on Kercher’s bra. Sollecito called such reports “stupid” and “unbelievable,” according to a Jan. 11 article in Italian’s daily newspaper La Repubblica (“Omicidio Mez, indagine senza fine Sollecito è “stupito” per il Dna”).

Sollecito’s father claimed that the bra could have belonged to Knox, not Kercher, explaining the presence of his son’s DNA.

Other evidence has included Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a knife belonging to Sollecito. Guede’s DNA was found in Kercher’s bedroom and on a tampon she was wearing.

Knox’s family and friends remain convinced of Knox’s innocence.

“We want her to know that we have not questioned her involvement in this,” Paxton said.

[Reach reporter Arla Shephard at news@thedaily.washington.edu.]

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