— Day after day, they sit 10 feet behind their daughter Amanda Knox in an Italian courtroom. But Curt Knox and Edda Mellas say even if their daughter’s current appeal to reverse her 26-year murder sentence isn’t successful, they’ll continue their courtroom vigil until a final appeal is made.
“She’s not staying here, period,” Curt Knox told Matt Lauer on TODAY during a sit-down interview in Perugia, Italy.
Knox, now jailed for more than 1,400 days since being arrested for the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher, is winding her way through an appeal process, hoping to overturn her 2009 conviction that also sent her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and acquaintance Rude Guede to prison. Amanda herself is expected the address the court within a day and a verdict should follow shortly after.
The parents of the 24-year-old are hoping for the best but will also brace for the worst as the verdict comes down — but they won’t give up until Amanda is back home in Seattle, Wash.
“You know, Amanda will find a way to live through it (if her appeal is denied),” Mellas told Lauer. “If she can do that, that’s the least we can do. We’re not stopping and no parent would. Wouldn’t you do everything that you could to help them? Everything? You just don’t stop.”
As Knox and Mellas sit through testimony in Amanda’s court appeal, it's often an exercise in futility. The fine points of Italian law are mostly foreign to them, as is the language. Knox told Lauer “there have been some people that have been extraordinarily nice that have been translating for us,” allowing them to get “the general gist of what is taking place.”
Mellas added she and Knox have become more attuned to facial expressions of the judge and jurors in the case. “We spend a lot of time just looking at these people and then comparing how they were reacting.”
But most of all, they watch their daughter fight for her life, close enough to be able to talk to her but forbidden to do so. Lauer noted the frustration Knox and Mellas must feel in not being allowed to offer words of encouragement or even make eye contact with Amanda.
Mellas revealed they have ways around it, reveling in stolen moments with their daughter. “We do anyway,” she told Lauer. “We walk by and I’ll say something to her…or I’ll walk in front and I’ll be looking at her lawyers, making like I’m talking to her lawyers, (but) going, ‘Amanda, hang in there girl, it’s OK.’ And her lawyers play along because we’re not supposed to talk to her."
Lauer sat near the family during proceedings Thursday and saw Amanda cracked a rare smile. Mellas turned to him to share her joy. “It was such a mom moment,” Lauer told Mellas. “It seemed as if you cling to those little moments where you see your daughter smile.”
Given the gravity of the situation, Mellas said, it doesn’t bode well if photographers capture Amanda smiling in court because “it gets twisted that Amanda is not taking this seriously,” but admitted it did her heart good nonetheless to see Amanda smile.
“(It showed) she’s still in there, even though, you know, we’ve seen a much more serious Amanda,” she said. “There was our daughter again, the one that smiled all the time.”
Mellas said the family’s spirits have been buoyed by the work of Amanda’s defense team, especially attorney Lucia Ghirga, who thanked Amanda for her strength while making his summation.
“(Her lawyers) adore her; not only as lawyers do they know she is innocent, they really adore my baby,” Mellas said, breaking into tears. “To hear them express that in court, to hear them tell everybody how much she means to them, it’s obviously very moving.”
Still, dad Curt wonders how things got so far afield in court from the outset. During the appeal of the original conviction, a court forensics review criticized the accuracy of DNA evidence, and Knox still can’t wrap his head around how Amanda and her boyfriend could be convicted when they left nary a trace at the scene.
“Common sense, that’s the thing that is missing, especially in the first trial,” he told Lauer.
“Four people in a very small room; one person fighting for their life. I’m sure their adrenaline is running and for Amanda and Raffaele to leave nothing in that room — no hair, no blood, no saliva, nothing; no fingerprints, anything.
“It’s just physically impossible to take place and to me, that is just pure common sense.”