In Perugia, Italy, six jurors and two judges are currently sitting in a room deciding the fate of Amanda Knox.
A verdict in the first appeals trial for Knox, who was convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher, is expected by 8 p.m. local time. The small university city has been abuzz with tension on Monday, as a media frenzy described as total chaos has taken over the town once famous for its chocolate.
Knox, currently two years into a 26-year sentence, gave her final testimony in front of a packed court and flashing cameras, once again asserting her innocence.
I want to go home to my life, she told the court. I don't want to be deprived of my life, my future, for something I have not done... I lived my life above all with Meredith. She was my friend. She was always kind to me.
At this point, a verdict is nearly impossible to predict. Evidence points in every direction, and the appeals trial has clarified certain elements of the case but blurred others. Additionally, the international case has been reported differently in Italy, the United States and England, each country playing on different sympathies.
In the U.S., especially during the first trial in 2009, newspapers have tended to paint Knox as an innocent, naive school girl who was caught in a strange European justice system. A Lifetime movie call Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial had Hayden Panettiere play an innocent, carefree American tormented by evil Italians.
Both the British and Italian media generally posited that Knox was guilty, although for different reasons. In protection of Kercher, a British citizen, the UK concluded that Foxy Knoxy was not as innocent as she appeared, while Italian news sources called the American the Angel Face Killer and defended local investigators against Knox's beguiling lies.
Prosecutors in Perugia pushed the judge to increase Knox's sentence to life in prison. While this seems like a harsh sentence, the prosecution has done a good job showing the inconsistencies in the case, and at this point, a guilty verdict is as likely as an innocent verdict.
The most damning evidence was actually Knox's original testimonies. When questioned by police in 2007, Knox changed her story more than once, claiming first that she was home and heard Kercher scream, then later said she was at her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito's apartment doing drugs and having sex. However, Sollecito once told police that he couldn't remember if Knox was there or not and both of their cell phones were shut off at the time of the murder.
Sollecito was also convicted of murder and is serving a 25 year sentence. His appeals trial is running concurrently with Knox's.
Additionally, Knox falsely accused Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba of the murder, a claim that prosecutors have used to brand Knox a lying, maniacal vixen.
Lumumba is currently suing Knox for defamation of character.
The Amanda Knox case could easily be the plot of an Italian opera, and both sides of the courtroom have taken to the melodrama with much enthusiasm. The prosecution's final arguments included so much linguistic flair it seemed as if they were trying to entertain the jury onto into their camp.
Knox is more beautiful than the average convicted murderer, inviting lawyers to call her a she-devil who used her good looks to fool the court.
“Amanda is one thing and another -- that is, both Saint Maria Goretti and a satanic, diabolic, she-devil given to borderline behavior,” Lumumba's lawyer Carlo Pacelli told the court last week. “Amanda Knox loved strong emotions and dangerous games.
Knox's own attorneys are not without theatrics either, and during their closing arguments lawyers compared Knox to Jessica Rabbit, the cartoon character who wasn't bad, but just drawn that way.
Moreover, lawyers are still claiming that murder was part of a drug-fueled knife-orgy, with Kercher's throat slit by either Sollecito or Knox during sex games. Could anything be more dramatic than that?
Aside from satanism, there is little motive in the case. In proper operatic fashion, investigators developed an elaborate back-story involving jealousy and rage, but there is little substance to it. While motive will have less to do with the appeals verdict than hard evidence, it will play a role.
The hard evidence itself was under examination over the past year, and independent, court-appointed experts concluded in June that the DNA evidence was inconclusive at best, and could have been tainted during the initial police investigation. DNA from a bra clasp found six weeks after Kercher's murder was an important piece of evidence in the first trial, but the La Sapienza University experts deemed that the DNA traces were too negligible to be retested.
The murder weapon has also been called into question and the knife found in Sollecito's apartment, which had Knox's DNA on it, did not match two of three wounds on Kercher's body.
Lastly, there were no credible eyewitness to the crime. The only person who testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito at the apartment on the night of the murder turned out to be a heroin addict who confused many details of the incident when questioned. Additionally, two prisoners testified in June that cellmates had confessed to the crime.
The only thing that is clear is that Knox, and her family, are ready for the saga to end. Unlike in 2009, when Knox was reportedly convinced that she would be found innocent and appeared in court smiling on the day of her sentencing, the American is trying not to get her hopes up.
But, if things go her way, Knox is allegedly ready to leave Italy as soon as possible. If found innocent, she will go to Rome, where there is a plane waiting to take her home.