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How fresh-faced college girl ended up convicted of murder

WHEN a fresh-faced Amanda Knox arrived in Perugia four years ago, she was just one of thousands of American students enjoying being young, free and single away from home.

But, following her arrest, her good looks and the lurid claims about her sex life made her an object of fascination.

Her nickname Foxy Knoxy on MySpace was assumed to be a reference to her sex appeal and was adopted by the media.

In fact it was a moniker born of her skills on the football field, her friends and family insisted.

Originally from Seattle, Miss Knox was a University of Washington student who went to Italy to study.

She described herself on her MySpace page as a lover of "good wine, rock climbing, backpacking long distances with people I love, yoga on a rainy day, coffee and lots of languages".

Not long after arriving in the medieval hilltop town, she began a relationship with Italian IT graduate Raffaele Sollecito.

And the night Meredith Kercher was murdered, she was at his house, smoking marijuana and making love, she said.

But on November 6, 2007, she was arrested in connection with the killing and was accused of playing a leading role in what prosecutors alleged was a bungled sex game that ended in the violent death of the pretty University of Leeds student.

Miss Knox denied any wrongdoing, but during a lengthy interrogation she pointed the finger at local bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba.

She later told jurors that the officers questioning her had suggested Mr Lumumba and so, worn down by the long interrogation, she agreed.

That slip-up spelled the start of a nightmarish four years in jail for the innocent woman.

The first stage of her spell behind bars lasted almost a year, during which she endured an agonising wait to learn whether she would be charged.

This culminated with the news she had been dreading on October 28, 2008, when Judge Paolo Micheli decided she and Mr Sollecito should stand trial.

So began a further 13-month wait behind bars for the pair.

But despite her young age and the hardship of being locked up in a foreign country, Knox has appeared to hold her own throughout most of her ordeal.

In June 2009 she gave evidence in fluent Italian, which she had learned in prison.

She told the court how surprised she had been when police interrogated her after the murder and how bad she felt about implicating Mr Lumumba, who employed her as a barmaid.

She was in shock, she said.

Contrary to what had been suggested, she had enjoyed a good relationship with Miss Kercher, she insisted.

With Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito finally in the clear, there is only one person left with blood on his hands. Small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, remains legally culpable of the murder. Unlike the other two, he admitted being at the scene, but claimed he had emerged from the bathroom to find Miss Kercher murdered by someone else's hand.

hnews@herald.ie