Friends, family show support for Amanda Knox

A fundraiser was held Saturday night at Salty's for Amanda Knox's legal defense fund. Knox, 21, has been sitting in an Italian prison for over a year awaiting trial for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, which took place in 2007, the day after Halloween.

So far, only Rudy Hermann Guede has been convicted. Knox's boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito is also accused.

Nearly 120 supporters who believe she is innocent of the murder charges joined Amanda's parents, step parents, sisters and extended family. Most are West Seattle residents. A group of about 10 of Knox's close friends from college sat at one table.

The suggested donation was $100, and included a buffet, and an hour-long lecture by Chicago criminal investigator Paul J. Ciolino. He became involved while starring in a CBS "48 Hours" episode about her case, and is now involved pro bono. A silent auction was also held.

"Paul came to us and said, 'You know your kid is innocent?' Then he got personally involved," said Amanda's mother, Edda Mellas. "He's great. Amanda would be amazed at this overwhelming turnout of support. Someone is always over there with Amanda. Right now my sister is there."

Amanda is allowed about two visits a week.

"The support of everyone here is phenomenal," said Curt Knox, Amanda's father, who later told the crowd he has spent nearly half-a-million dollars on legal fees and expenses. The family is trying to raise that much again, and has two Italian lawyers working on the case in addition to American attorneys.

"I was asked by 'Friends of Amanda' to help turn around this supertanker of bad press over in Italy and get the truth out about Amanda's innocence," said Seattle attorney, Anne Bremner. "The prosecution has no forensic evidence at all. Zero. None."

"Everything coming out of Italy is nonsense," Ciolino told the West Seattle Herald following his interview on Salty's outdoor patio with the "Geraldo Rivera Show." His lecture was titled "Twenty Reasons Amanda Knox is Innocent."

"They got the right man in jail, Rudy. The prosecutor had a problem. Rudy didn't identify Amanda or (her boyfriend) Raffaele. I have six children and they are no more guilty of this crime than Amanda."

Ciolino, Bemner, and other legal experts helping the Knox family believe the Italian prosecutor's evidence is bogus. He is Giuliano Mignini, and has been criminally indicted in Italy on several counts involving unrelated cases. Counts include illegal wiretapping, obstruction of justice, and harassing newspapers with illegal investigations.

Amanda supporters say he is using the high-profile Amanda Knox case to improve his dicey reputation and further his career. They say some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable.

"The Amanda we know is one of the kindest, gentlest human beings we know," said David Johnsrud, 22, a close college friend of Amanda's.

"Because of how her case has been handled I have lost a lot of faith in justice in the world."

Large television monitors displayed a slide show of old Knox family photos.

"There's me, Princess Jasmine," said Deanna, Amanda's sister just one year her junior, as a decade-old Halloween slide appeared. "And there's Amanda, as Pocahontas," added Deanna, with a wistful gaze at the screen.

For updates and more information visit: www.friendsofamanda.org and www.amandadefensefund.org.

Steve Shay can be reached at 932-0300 or steves@robinsonnews.com.

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THE BOOK

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