PERUGIA, Italy – Amanda Knox told The Associated Press from her jail cell Sunday that she is scared but hopeful eight days after an Italian court sentenced her to 26 years in prison for the murder of her British roommate.
"I am scared because I don't know what is going on," the 22-year-old American student said during a 10-minute visit by two Italian lawmakers, prison officials and a pair of reporters in Capanne prison on the outskirts of Perugia.
Knox has been jailed for two years since she was arrested a few days after the slaying of Meredith Kercher in the house the two students shared in this Umbrian university town.
"I am waiting and always hoping," Knox said, switching from English into Italian for the delegation. "I don't understand many things, but I have to accept them, things that for me don't always seem very fair."
Sitting on her bed in the 9-square-meter (96.88-sq. feet) cell when the visitors arrived, the Washington State woman said "I was feeling horrendous" after the Dec. 5 verdict that she was guilty of murder and sexual assault.
"The guards helped me out. They held me all night," she said.
Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, in the bedroom of the house she shared with Knox while the two were studying in the medieval town of Perugia in central Italy. Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was murdered the previous night.
Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was convicted of the same charges as her and given a 25-year-sentence. After the verdict, he was transferred to another prison. Both insist they are innocent.
Defendants in Italian trials can appeal pursue appeals, and Knox's lawyers have expressed hope she will be acquitted in an appeals trial.
Knox looked relieved when one of her visitors, Italian parliamentary deputy Rocco Girlanda, recounted the unrelated case of a young man also convicted of murder at the first trial level but exonerated in the appeals trial.
In Italian jails, inmates can wear their own clothing, and Knox wore a gray-and-white-flecked turtleneck sweater, black legging pants, white socks and black slippers. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.
The visitors, who included a reporter from the Italian news agency ANSA, were not allowed to ask Knox questions about the trial itself.
Instead Knox spoke about her affection for her family and her determination to continue her university studies, the reason why she came to Perugia in the first place a few months before the Nov. 2, 2007, slaying.
"I believe in my family. They are telling me to stay calm," Knox said. Her family, as well as a senator from her home state, Maria Cantwell, have spearheaded a vigorous campaign to convince Italian authorities she is innocent.
The visit was arranged by Fondazione Italia USA, which promotes close relations between the two countries, in an effort to heal any rift over accusations that Italy's justice system is unfair.
"My family is the most important thing for me. I also miss going to classes," she said. "I miss stimulating conversations."
She said she is in contact with her professors. "We are trying to work out how I can talk to them," she added, noting that while she can write letters from prison, e-mail access is forbidden.
Her cell includes two beds — she shares it with another woman, who has been identified by other lawmakers in previous visits as a 53-year-old American woman from New Orleans who is serving a four-year sentence for a drug conviction. For privacy reasons, Knox declined to talk about her cellmate.
The cell also includes a private bathroom with shower, toilet and bidet.
The visitors were not allowed to bring cameras or tape recorders.
Knox said she doesn't watch TV or read newspapers. But there are TV sets in the prison.
The prison was decked out for the holidays, with Christmas trees. During a short tour, the delegation saw a hairdressers, whose services inmates can use once a week. A ping-pong table is among the recreation facilities.
The American stood the entire time of the visit, which took place shortly before lunch time in the prison.