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Murder Charges Imminent For Amanda Knox?

For the past nine months, 21-year-old Amanda Knox has been sitting in a jail in Italy. Officials believe the American coed and her boyfriend killed her roommate, and could charge Amanda sometime this week. But she maintains her innocence.

"She's absolutely innocent. She had nothing to do with that. She was not there that night," says Amanda's mom Edda Mellas, who spoke to 48 Hours Mystery correspondent Peter Van Sant in an exclusive interview.

Authorities in Perugia, Italy are recommending that Amanda be charged with murder and sexual assault of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

"We all knew that the prosecutor was going to charge her and wasn't going to say, 'Oops, sorry,' and let you loose, 'cause they need to save face," Mellas tells Van Sant.

Mellas says that the months already spent in prison have taken their toll on her daughter. "This is a kid who trusted the world...who only saw or thought of good in the world and who was never afraid to be alone and would, you know, loved to go out and see things," Mellas says. "And now, I think she's afraid to be alone. I think she has a real fear of public officials, police, you know, a fear of prosecutors, a fear of the media."

And Mellas says Amanda has good reason to be fearful: her daughter has been convicted in the tabloid press in England and Italy.

Van Sant talked to Amanda's parents last February in Perugia for 48 Hours Mystery and pointed out some of the tabloid headlines from the British press: "'The Twisted World of Foxy Knoxy,' 'Foxy Knoxy Helped Girl's Killer.' 'Meredith Held Down By Friend.' 'The Dark Angel Of Seattle.' 'Orgy Of Death.' And, Amanda was a 'drugged up tart.'"

"You know, I have not read the British press because I knew that was out there and that is not my daughter and that's not, I mean, you know, some of that you can just toss because these people don't know her. They have never met her. It's horrible," Mellas reacted.

Amanda grew up in Seattle, where she got the nickname "Foxy Knoxy" for her clever play on the soccer field. A straight-A student at the University of Washington, Amanda moved to Perugia last September for a year of study.

Last Nov. 2, she came home after spending the night with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Her roommate, Meredith, had been strangled and stabbed three times in the neck. She bled to death.

"This horrible thing happened in this small town that doesn't happen very often. And I know that there was a rush for…people were pulling their children out of schools. And there was a lot of pressure to figure this out and to figure it out fast," Mellas says.

Several days after the murder, Amanda was interrogated through the night, a 14-hour ordeal without food, water, sleep or an attorney. She then signed a written statement, confessing to the murder.

Private investigator Paul Ciolino was hired by 48 Hours to travel to Perugia and look into the case and Amanda's confession.

Asked why Amanda would have signed the confession, Ciolino said, "Let me tell you Peter. A confused, 20-year-old girl 6,000 miles from home and all of a sudden they're telling her she's a prime suspect in a murder, they they're going to put her in prison for the rest of her life in an Italian jail unless you pony up baby and sign this."

That confession has now been ruled inadmissible. But the Italian prosecutor plans to focus on a theory that Meredith was murdered after refusing to take part in a sex game with Amanda, her boyfriend, and a local drifter named Rudy Guede.

Mellas is baffled by the prosecutor's case. "He's gone back to what he was saying November 6th around this whole group, sex crime and robbery and you know, all of that, even though those things have been talked about and thrown out as possibilities by his own expert."

Amanda will likely be formally charged this summer.

"I have to be hopeful. I have to be positive. I have to be strong for Amanda and continue to tell and encourage her and tell her, 'You will get out of here. You haven't done anything wrong. You will be released,'" Mellas says.

But she worries if Amanda can get a fair trial. "If it's based on evidence, she will be released. She will be freed. If it's based on all these rumors, who knows what could happen," Mellas says.

On Monday, Paul Ciolino, who is also a CBS News analyst, joined The Early Show to discuss the case with co-anchor Harry Smith.

Asked if there is any damning evidence or information in Amanda's diary that might help the Italian prosecutors' case, Ciolino says, "They coaxed her into believing she was HIV positive at one time and wanted her to list all her sexual partners she ever had in an attempt to, I don't know, get her to say she had sex with Meredith or Rudy or someone along them lines. It didn't work. But most of the diaries were posted. She declares her innocence over and over again."

What is likely to happen as this trial begins?

"We're in for a long haul. Or Amanda is anyways. I think it will get sorted out at some point. However right now they're going to the wall with this ridiculous story with no forensic evidence to back it up, no witnesses to back it up and no confession. So they have no case. But they're going to the wall with it and they're going to try her," Ciolino says.

Ciolino says there is no forensic evidence to lead to one person or another, and that it's all circumstantial evidence. "And we've seen the crime scene tapes that the Italians did at that crime scene and it is horrendous. It is a joke almost the way they mishandled evidence and ruined evidence at that crime scene," he says.

"As best you can tell from your time over there and your knowledge of the system, any chance she ends up being acquitted here?" Smith asks.

"I think she will be acquitted," Ciolino says. "The question is, when? The prosecutor has a lot of power over there and basically the judges are just like prosecutors. So you have four prosecutors in a room. In this particular case the lead prosecutor is under indictment himself for misconduct in another case. So, it's just really a bizarre, bizarre case where there's no evidence and this kid should be released and sent home."