LONDON -- The family of Meredith Kercher, who was stabbed to death in Perugia, Italy, is setting up a trust fund to help pay for the appeal against the decision to clear American student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of murder.
In an open letter, published in The (London) Times and the Daily Mirror to mark the fourth anniversary of the British student's death, Stephanie Kercher said the fund would help with legal expenses in the future and also eventually support others who find themselves in a similar position.
She wrote, "We will not recoup the legal costs, but we hope that a fund may help with legal expenses in the future, as the appeal proceeds. Most importantly, we hope that Meredith's fight may continue and that she can help others."
Stephanie Kercher also paid tribute to her "effortlessly beautiful," "selfless" and loyal sister and recalled the night she found out a 22-year-old English girl had been found dead in an Italian apartment.
"I rang her mobile several times," she said. "I left a voice message explaining what had happened, telling her to be safe and to call me as soon as she could. I finished as always, 'I love you.' I even emailed her the news page so she knew what I was talking about ... little did I know I was already too late."
Describing the moment a Halloween picture of the victim appeared in the media, Stephanie Kercher wrote, "I was adamant it was not my little sister, it simply didn't look quite like her ... but Mum stroked my hair and painfully said that it was. I cried all night until I could barely see or breathe, everything just felt so empty even though we were all together in the same room."
When Stephanie Kercher traveled to Italy to see the body, she said her sister Meredith "seemed peaceful, yet bore a look of determination, of courage marred by defeat."
She also revealed the family had not yet put a permanent memorial at Meredith Kercher's grave as they did not feel the time was right.
"We look to future anniversaries with the hope that something good can come from the bad, and that one day the time will be right for a permanent memorial, where we can all go to remember my sister," she added.
Seattle-native Knox and Italian student Sollecito were convicted of the 2007 murder, then freed on appeal last month. Knox returned to her home in the US soon afterward.
Italian prosecutors are expected to appeal the decision to free them at the country's Supreme Court, although the case is not likely to be heard before next July.