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Knox 'ready to fight on,' parents say

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Verdict 'shocked' Knox parents
  • Amanda Knox was "completely crushed, devastated" after guilty verdicts, mother says
  • Knox to serve 26-year prison sentence for murder of Meredith Kercher
  • Knox and Raffaele Sollecito together must pay 5 million euros to the victim's family
  • Knox's father: "She wanted to get back to studying at school" after verdict

(CNN) -- The parents of American student Amanda Knox, who was convicted of murdering British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy, say their daughter is ready to face the appeals process as she begins serving her 26-year prison sentence.

Edda Mellas told CNN's Larry King on Monday that her daughter was "completely crushed, devastated" immediately following Friday's guilty verdicts against her and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, in Kercher's knifing death. Mellas said she and her ex-husband, Kurt Knox, visited their daughter in prison Monday and found "she's ready to go, ready to fight on."

"It made me feel good to see she was ready to charge on and she wanted to get back to studying at school and stuff like that," Knox's father said. "So we're going to work on getting that prepared for her."

Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who was sentenced to 25 years, were convicted on all charges except theft, and together must pay 5 million euros to the victim's family. In addition, Knox must pay 40,000 euros to a man whom she falsely accused of the killing.

Kercher was Knox's roommate in Perugia at the time of the November 2007 slaying.

Mellas acknowledged that her daughter had the opportunity of staying in Germany with some relatives during the first days of the murder investigation, saying there wouldn't have been enough evidence at that point to have extradited her daughter.

"I kick myself everyday that I didn't make her leave the country, and so does my cousin in Germany," she said. "Because, had she left, none of this would've happened. She wouldn't be where she's at. But, you know, we can't go back and fix that -- we just need to go forward."

Video: Knox family, friends react
Video: Knox jury, prosecutor decried
Video: Who was Meredith Kercher?

Knox, 22, read a statement Thursday in the trial, which began in January in the university town of Perugia, 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Rome, telling jurors she is not a killer.

Knox and Sollecito, who were arrested shortly after the slaying, were also charged with sexual violence. A third suspect was found guilty in a separate trial and is appealing. Knox testified in June that she was not home at the time of the slaying. Sollecito also denied any role in the killing.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating nearly 11 hours on the 11 counts against Knox and Sollecito.

Defense attorney Luciano Ghirga rejected the suggestion that the American student hated her roommate, quoting Knox as having described the victim as her friend.

Prosecutors say Kercher died during a sex game in which Knox taunted Kercher while Sollecito and acquaintance Rudy Guede sexually assaulted her. Guede was convicted in a separate fast-track trial and is appealing. The prosecution said a knife found in Sollecito's house had Knox's DNA on the handle and Kercher's on the blade, among other pieces of evidence.

Knox's defense attorneys have tried to cast doubt on the knife, saying it matches neither Kercher's wounds nor a knife imprint left on a bed sheet. They also said the DNA sample is too small to be conclusive.

Knox's parents insisted Monday that the jury made a "huge mistake" by convicting their daughter, saying there was no physical evidence against her.

"I believe this court didn't have the courage to say 'not guilty' and just push it off to the appeals level, which is completely unacceptable to me," Kurt Knox said.

The prosecution also presented what they called a confession by Knox, but Knox later said any apparent admission she was at the scene was made when investigators told her to imagine what she might have seen if she had been there. The argument became moot when a higher court ruled the alleged confession could not be used because the statement was made without an attorney or translator present.

Asked about the so-called confession, Knox's father blamed the interrogations. "Amanda was actually questioned and interrogated for over 41 hours, and it culminated in a 14-hour overnight, very aggressive interrogation."

"She told us she has never been more scared in her entire life," he continued. "She was asked to visualize a number of things ... she described even in her testimony six to eight people circling her, shouting at her, questioning her and hitting her in the back of the head. And at that state of the game, you're virtually willing to sign anything in order to get out of that situation."

Knox's father said she had been a victim of "character assassination," and described her as "a normal college kid" who was focused on school and a "late bloomer" when it came to her interest in the opposite sex.

The family has high hope for Knox's appeal, which may not reach a court docket for at least a year. Kurt Knox said the Italian appeals process is more flexible that the system in the United States, noting that the appeals court could open the case for a further evaluation of evidence and new information.

"There are many Italians who have told us that, you know, worst-case scenario, the first level rarely works correctly," Mellas said, referring to the jury trial. "'They'll get it right in appeals, she will get out of there.' They will not, you know, put away this innocent young girl for a crime she didn't commit."

Knox also faces civil penalties from Kercher's family members, who reportedly are seeking $36 million in damages for her death.

"You know, we've always said that we can only imagine the pain that they're going through. They lost their child -- there's nothing that compares to that," Mellas said, adding, "I don't know about the civil penalties. I know that Amanda has nothing, and I think it's mostly a symbolic type of a thing."