FLORENCE, Italy - Amanda Knox declared her innocence in her roommate's 2007 murder in a highly unusual e-mail Tuesday to the Italian court hearing the case against her. The former U.S. exchange student also said she was staying away from the trial out of fear of being wrongly convicted.

"I didn't kill. I didn't rape. I didn't rob. I didn't plot. I didn't instigate. I didn't kill Meredith," Knox wrote.

Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini read the five-page e-mail written in Italian into the court record. He noted that the e-mail, presented by Knox's attorneys before their closing arguments, was not a normal procedure in Italy.

Knox explained her absence was out of fear that she would be wrongly convicted, which she contends happened during the first trial against her and her former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito. The case against Knox and Sollecito is being heard for a third time.

Knox, now 26, spent four years in jail in Italy. She was permitted to return to the United States in 2011 after she was acquitted on appeal - a decision overturned in March by Italy's highest court, which sent it back for a second appeals trial.

Meredith Kercher, 21, was slain in 2007 in the apartment she shared with Knox in the picturesque Italian university town of Perugia. She had been raped and stabbed dozens of times in the face. Her throat was slashed, and her body left beneath a blanket in her bedroom.

Knox said the two were friends without any conflicts between them. She also said she had no contact with Rudy Guede, a small-time drug dealer who is serving a 16-year sentence for Kercher's murder. Prosecutors say Knox and Sollecito carried out the killing with Guede.