PERUGIA, Italy - Convicted murderer Amanda Knox broke into tears Saturday as she made an emotional address to an appeals court in Italy, saying that she was the innocent victim of an "enormous mistake" and that her life had been "broken" by three years in jail.
The 23-year-old American addressed for the first time the family of Meredith Kercher, the British girl she was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting in 2007 when they were student-exchange roommates in Perugia.
Knox denied being the "dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring, violent" person the prosecution described.
She was convicted last year and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Also convicted of the same charges was Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who is Knox's former boyfriend. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both deny wrongdoing and have appealed the verdict.
The appeals trial formally opened last month, but that hearing was immediately adjourned. With Saturday's hearing, the new proceedings got into full swing.
"I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. We did not kill Meredith," Knox said during her 20-minute address, speaking Italian, and her voice breaking. "It doesn't do justice to Meredith and her loved ones to take our lives from us."
Silence fell on the courtroom as Knox started speaking, with her stepfather, Chris Mellas, and her university friend Madison Paxton in attendance. Paxton, who was crying during her friend's speech, said later she had never been "so proud of anybody in my life."
Knox had addressed the court in the previous trial but never for as long or as passionately. She said she regretted not being able to fully speak her mind before, saying that words do not come easily to her and that she had a difficult time standing up for herself.