As Amanda Knox awaits a hearing Monday on slander charges, the Seattle student convicted in Italy of slaying her British roommate is at the center of what her American attorney calls a "peculiar case," one that has seen lawyers from all sides get in legal hot water.
Knox, now 23, was convicted in Italy last December in the November 2007 killing of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who was also convicted, got 25 years. Prosecutors say the two slit Kercher's throat after she refused to take part in a sex game.
Knox's parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, also face slander charges in Italy after they, too, claimed Amanda had been mistreated.
Denied bail, Knox has sat in prison for three years.
The slander counts against her stem from Knox claiming Italian police beat her during a nine-hour interrogation. Police deny they ever hit Knox.
She's spent much of her time behind bars drawing, reports CBS News Correspondent White Johnson, who says self-portraits recently made public have some observers saying the pictures reveal the inner-thoughts of a killer.
That's disturbing to her parents, who have always maintained her innocence, Johnson points out. They issued a statement calling the comments "typical of the sensationalized, inaccurate and irresponsible reporting that has characterized much of what has been written about Amanda."
The appeal of her murder conviction is slated to start Nov. 24.
The defamation trial of her parents was delayed by a judge this week until February.
Monday's hearing for Amanda on the slander counts will be largely procedural, her American lawyer, Theodore Simon, told "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Chris Wragge in an exclusive interview.
The charges against her parents represent "another unusual aspect of an incredibly unusual case," Simon remarked. "Her parents have been very supportive and incredibly loving in their support of their daughter. They arrived on the eve of the (murder) trial and what happened was truly remarkable. Both were arrested and charged with criminal slander based upon their repeating what Amanda allegedly told them some year-and-a-half prior. The timing of these charges is very suspect.
"When you look at this entire case -- beyond what the public is already getting to know -- there's an absolute absence of any forensic evidence of Amanda Knox in the room where Meredith Kercher was killed or on her person, making this case impossible.
"What you're left with is, not only are the parents charged with criminal slander (but), after Amanda is convicted, she is charged with criminal slander based upon statements she made in her own defense."
"And then," Simon continued, "shockingly, the prosecutor who is responsible for her prosecution is convicted of abuse of his office, given a 16-month suspended sentence and yet permitted to practice law and continue to prosecute.
"(And just) when you think that there could not be something more, something more happens. Two of the lawyers in the case, one for Raffaele Sollecito and one for Amanda, both were both charged with slander.
"So, when you start looking at the composite of this case, you can see how peculiar it truly is."
Will the slander case against Knox impact the appeal of her murder conviction?
"They should be independent," Simon replied, "in that they're reviewing different matters. The slander case is separate and apart from the appeal of the murder conviction, which will review the utter lack of evidence that is in this case, among many other aspects."
The appeal, Simon contended, could provide "a great opportunity for reversal because, in Italy, there's a broader standard and scope of review on appeal - that is -- the appellate court in Italy will not only be able to review the law (as happens in the U.S.), but will be able to review the facts. So, we're very optimistic, cautiously optimistic, that a good result will occur.
"However, should it not, there remains another opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court of Italy."
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