Anxiety grips Amanda Knox as appeal wraps up

PERUGIA, Italy - Amanda Knox can't sleep or eat properly as she waits to know if an appeals court in Italy will uphold or overturn her murder conviction, a friend of the jailed American student said.

A verdict is expected in early October, capping an appeals trial that began almost a year ago.

Knox was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, her British roommate in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Knox's boyfriend at the time of the 2007 murder, Raffaele Sollecito of Italy, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years.

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They deny wrongdoing and have appealed their convictions, issued by a lower court in 2009.

Madison Paxton, a friend from the University of Washington who has moved to Perugia to be close to Knox and visits her in prison regularly, told The Associated Press that Knox has no energy and tires very easily.

"In these days coming towards the end, finding very peaceful moments is hard for her," Paxton said Sunday. "Her sleep is very disturbed, her eating is very disturbed."

The 24-year-old Knox has visibly lost weight and appears worn out by four years behind bars. Her lawyers and family have described her as increasingly anxious as she awaits a verdict.

The appeals case continues Monday, when a lawyer representing the Kercher family will make his closing arguments. The lawyer of a man who was implicated in the murder by Knox — and was briefly jailed as a result of her statement — is also expected to address the appeals court in Perugia. Both the Kercher family and the man figure as civil plaintiffs in the case.

Later in the week, defense teams will sum up their case.

Knox herself is expected to address the court in a final plea. In a letter sent to Italian lawmaker Rocco Girlanda, who has campaigned for her freedom and frequently seen her in prison, Knox said she has been thinking about what to say to the court and what to do if she is released. The letter, dated Aug. 9, was shown on an Italian TV show Sunday night.

Kercher, 21, was stabbed to death on Nov. 1, 2007. Her body — lying in a pool of blood, her throat slit — was found the following day in the apartment she shared with Knox.

Prosecutors maintain Kercher died in what had begun as a drug-fueled sexual assault. They have asked the appeals court to stiffen Knox's and Sollecito's penalties and sentence them to life in prison.

Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian man. Italy's highest criminal court has upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year prison sentence. Guede denies wrongdoing.

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