(CBS/KIRO/AP) PERUGIA, Italy - Italian prosecutors urged an appeals court Friday to uphold the murder conviction of Amanda Knox despite what they called a media campaign in support of the American student. They also asked the jurors to think instead of the young victim, Meredith Kercher, whose life was brutally-ended.
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said that acquitting Knox would mean forever losing a chance at justice. "We know what an acquittal means - a swift escape abroad," he told the appeals court. "Escape we could no longer remedy."
Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher, on the night of Nov. 1, 2007, when they were all students in Perugia. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison; Sollecito to 25. Both deny wrongdoing and have appealed the lower court's verdict in December 2009.
Today, the prosecutors tried to focus the jury's attention on Kercher and her family's pain, against a backdrop of what they described as media fascination with the photogenic Knox.
Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola urged the jurors to try and "feel a little bit like the parents of Meredith Kercher." Another prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, said he will never forget Kercher's wide open eyes when he inspected the crime scene. He then juxtaposed gruesome photos from the murder with a snapshot of the defendants kissing shortly after Kercher's body was found.
"The victim has sunk into an absolute and shameful oblivion, made more intolerable by the media's morbid exaltation of the two people sitting on the defendant's bench," Mignini said. He urged jurors not to be deceived by the defendants' clean-cut appearances, saying "there's a dark side in all of us."
Prosecutors argue that the 21-year-old Kercher was the victim of a drug-fueled sex assault.
On Friday, the prosecutors reviewed their case in great detail. They talked about the bloody footprints found in the house that are compatible with those of the defendants. They also mentioned the cell phone activity and witness testimony that appear to contradict the defendant's alibi that they spent the night at Sollecito's house and stayed there until about 10 a.m. the day after the murder and a staged burglary at the house of the murder aimed at sidetracking the investigation.
The prosecutors also tried to downplay the results of an independent review of DNA evidence, which said much of the genetic evidence used to convict Knox and Sollecito was faulty. They also said it was possibly contaminated due to errors in evidence-collecting. Prosecutors insisted the review was sketchy and superficial and telling the court there was more to their case.
"It's not just about the clasp and the knife," Mignini said. Speaking of the risk of contamination, he said the review failed to back up the claim: "Contamination of what? With what? When? How?" he asked.
According to CBS affiliate KIRO, a prosecutor also brought the issue of race into his argument.
He told jurors in a reference to Rudy Guede, the third person convicted in the Kercher murder, that if the court lets Knox and Sollecito free that would leave only the "poor black guy to pay the price."
The lawyers for Knox and Sollecito are expected to give their rebuttals before Knox and Sollecito themselves address the court.
The jury will then issue a decision on whether to overturn the convictions. A ruling is expected as early as Monday.