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Family: Amanda Knox transformed under spotlight

Amanda Knox stands in court during the resumption of her appeal trial in Perugia, Italy, Sept. 27, 2011.
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PERUGIA, Italy - Two years ago, as she waited to know whether she'd be found guilty of murdering her British roommate, Amanda Knox was so confident she thought she'd be flying home to Seattle within hours.

Still behind bars, the American is a changed woman, family and friends say — more mature, more wary of people around her, increasingly anxious as an appeals court verdict approaches.

CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reported from Perugia, Italy, that Knox's family had a chance to visit her Wednesday in prison. D'Agata said the next time they go, they are hoping to take her home.

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On "The Early Show" Wednesday morning, Curt Knox, Amanda's father, said his daughter is anxious as the appeal proceedings conclude. He said, "We want to be strong for her, to try to keep her spirits up. You know, she knows she is innocent and we know she is innocent. It's a matter of having the court say that and, hopefully, we get to bring her home soon."

The transformation they describe is seen on the outside. Gone are the Beatles T-shirt, the cocky demeanor, the irreverent smile. Now 24, Knox is conservatively dressed, thinner, clearly worn out — although detractors say she's merely putting on an act.

"When she walked in for the (2009) verdict she was actually happy," says her friend Madison Paxton, "like she thought she was going to be on a plane home in 12 hours, and was running to the courtroom. She wasn't even remotely prepared for what she heard."

"This time you see it manifest in her body and the way she physically responds to it — she is ... terrified," Paxton told The Associated Press, sipping an iced cappuccino in a bar in Perugia, a stone's throw from the courthouse.

Knox was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, a British student in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was Knox's boyfriend at the time of the crime, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years. Sollecito has also appealed.

One person unconvinced by Knox's new image is the lawyer of a man she unjustly accused in the early stages of the investigation.

Carlo Pacelli told the appeals court this week that Knox has a "talent for lying" and is an "experienced actress." Over the course of two hours, Pacelli called Knox a "demonic, satanic, diabolical she-devil," and "spell-casting witch, a virtuoso of deceit."

Pacelli's client, Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, was unjustly accused by Knox of being the murderer and was briefly jailed as a result of that claim. Knox maintains police pressure led her to accuse Lumumba, a Congolese national in whose bar in Perugia she occasionally worked.

Knox will know her fate within a week: She hopes to be freed after four years in jail, her accusers are asking the court to stiffen her penalty to life in prison.

The appeals court may issue a decision as soon as Saturday, capping a nine-month trial where Knox has appeared at times tense, worn-out and tearful. Paxton says she can't eat or sleep properly as the date of the verdict approaches.

When she entered the spotlight in 2007, with her fair hair, blue eyes and photogenic looks, Knox immediately fascinated audiences. Some called her an "angel face" devil, others saw a naive innocent caught in a catastrophic judicial mistake. British tabloids took to calling her "Foxy Knoxy" — an old nickname that didn't help her image even as her family insisted it stemmed from her skillful moves on the football pitch.

Throughout the case, depending on whom you asked, she was a femme fatale or a naive, lovestruck girl. Recently a defense lawyer likened her to Jessica Rabbit — not bad, just drawn that way.

With her life dissected in countless articles, books and even some movies, Paxton says, Knox "has had to learn how to not rely so much of what other people say about her" — an experience that has made her stronger and at peace with herself.

During the first trial, she would smile to the court, and keep a breezy, even flippant behavior throughout hearings that inevitably discussed a gruesome murder. In her first public statement to the court, Knox took on a casual, almost amused tone in discussing the presence of a sex toy — a pink rabbit-shaped vibrator — in the Perugia house she shared with the victim.

"It was a joke," she said then, gesturing with her hands to indicate the size of the toy.

Even as her family maintained she was always respectful and aware of the seriousness of the charges against her, Knox's behavior didn't help her cause in the eyes of Italian public opinion.

Now, she looks down as she enters the court. In recent hearings she held her hands clasped in front of her face as if praying. She has abandoned the "All You Need is Love" T-shirt she once wore in court for Valentine's Day for satin blouses and black trousers.