ROME — Jailed American student Amanda Knox will cook crab cakes on the floor of her sweltering Italian prison cell todayas she marks her 23rd birthday – her third behind bars since being arrested and then found guilty of murdering her British roommate.
The former Washington University student will receive gifts from her mother and sister when she is allowed to spend an hour with them in the visiting room of a prison outside Perugia, the medieval hill-top town where her flatmate, Meredith Kercher, was found stabbed to death in Nov 2007.
The brief visit will be a comfort to Ms. Knox, who has always maintained that she had nothing to do with the killing, and will provide a brief respite from her sweatbox of a cell.
“There’s no air-conditioning in the cells and it’s been 42 C (108 degress F.) this week in Perugia,” her mother, Edda Mellas, who celebrates her own birthday on Saturday, told the Monitor. “It is excruciatingly hot and humid, really unbearable.”
“Amanda has asked us to bring some ingredients to make crab cakes. We’ll take some onions and bread crumbs and maybe some avocado and she will make them on a little camping stove on the floor of her cell. We also have some gifts from friends at home: some sundresses and some books.”
Knox, an able student and keen soccer player from Seattle, Washington, was found guilty in December of sexually assaulting and murdering Miss Kercher, from Surrey in southern England, in what the prosecution said was a drug-fueled sex game.
She was sentenced to 26 years in jail at the end of a year-long trial. Her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was found guilty on the same charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
A third defendant, Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial but had his 30-year sentence reduced to 16 years on appeal.
Knox’s younger sister, Deanna, will give Amanda a T-shirt with the words “Let It Be,” while her cellmate, an American woman, is planning to bake a birthday cake.
Knox’s mother has faced her own legal ordeal this week after having to attend a court in Perugia on charges of defaming Italian police.
The charges stem from the fact that she and her former husband, Curt Knox, repeated to journalists their daughter’s allegations that police officers hit and slapped her during an interrogation in the days after the murder
Tuesday’s hearing was adjourned until Oct. 19, when Knox’s parents will go on trial. “I made sure I was in Perugia for the hearing and then the police simply requested, and were granted, a delay. It’s frustrating,” says Mrs Mellas.
Knox’s lawyers are preparing an appeal which is expected to start in a Perugia court on or around November 23
They are expected to present new evidence, including a review of forensic evidence and testimony from a jailed mafia turncoat who claims that his brother confessed to killing Miss Kercher during a bungled robbery and that Knox is innocent.
“We need a judge to be assigned for the appeal to start and we still don’t have one,” said Mrs Mellas. “It was supposed to have happened on May 20 but they just totally ignored the deadline.”
Her daughter was finding the approach of her birthday extremely tough. “It’s always hard for her and the family but birthdays are even harder. Our lawyers keep telling us that mistakes in criminal cases are often put right at the first or second level of appeal. We still have hope,” says Mellas.