Amanda Knox told the Italian court in a "highly unusual" email that she didn't rape or kill British student Meredith Kercher in 2007, but refused to show up for the hearing due to fears that she would be wrongly convicted.
"I am not in court because I am afraid. I am afraid that the vehemence of the prosecution will make an impression on you, that their smoke will get in your eyes and blind you," Knox, 26, said in the email to the court, the Associated Press reported. "I am not afraid of your powers of discernment, but because the prosecution has succeeded already in convincing a court comprised of responsible and perceptive adults to convict innocent people, Raffaele and me."
The long-standing case has gone through several twists and turns, leading to several books and a movie being developed on the subject. Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were initially acquitted in 2011 after spending four years in prison for their hand in the murder of Knox's flatmate, Kercher, in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede was instead convicted in October 2008 of having sexually assaulted and murdered the British student.
After a prosecution appeal, however, the Italian Supreme Court granted a re-trial earlier this year. While Sollecito has appeared at several hearings since, declaring his innocence, Knox, who is currently a student in the U.S., has refused to show up, fearing that she might be wrongfully convicted.
Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini, who read Knox's email, said that the note did not have a high legal standing.
"Who wants to speak at a trial, comes to the trial," Nencini said. "I never saw her, I don't know her."
Knox added that she is following the case closely, "given that my life is at stake."
The prosecution is hoping to add an additional year to Knox's three-year slander conviction, along with a 26-year sentence for her hand in the murder, for wrongfully accusing bar owner Patrick Lumumba – something she says she was forced to do under pressure by Italian police.
"They lied to me, yelled at me, threatened me, and gave me two slaps on the head," the American student shared.
The "True Justice for Meredith Kercher" website, set up by the British student's friends and family, has been updated regularly with details of the trial.
"Meredith really did touch so many lives with her selfless compassion and loyalty to others and continues to do so now. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her, and she would go out of her way to please everyone and look after everyone," a fund set up in Kercher's memory reads.
"Meredith had such an incredible presence that the void she has left us with is noticeable every day."