By Deepa Babington
PERUGIA, Italy (Reuters) - Jailed American student Amanda Knox is anxious but hopeful of walking free from the Italian prison where she has been held for the murder of her roommate in an Italian university town nearly four years ago, her father said.
Knox, from Seattle, is serving a 26-year jail term after being found guilty along with her Italian ex-boyfriend of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia during an orgy that turned violent.
A verdict in her appeals trial is days away.
"The simplest thing of lying down in the grass is something she's looking forward to, just the aspect of petting one of her cats," said her father, Curt Knox, who has been in court daily as the appeals trial draws to a close.
"It's the smallest things that are going to be a life-changer for her."
Knox's hopes of going home have been boosted by a forensics review that discredited key DNA evidence used to secure a conviction, and her family have been conducting a tireless and well organized public relations campaign on her behalf.
Regular media appearances by family members and friends have helped counteract the lurid image of "Foxy Knoxy," the cunning, sex-obsessed party girl with a penchant for dangerous games portrayed by prosecutors and in some media accounts.
The 24 year-old, who was studying in Perugia at the time of Kercher's murder, is now widely seen in the United States as an innocent American entangled in an opaque and unfair justice system and her release is widely expected.
She has appeared gaunt and pale during closing arguments by prosecutors and lawyers and her father said she had a particularly tough day on Monday when one lawyer called her "diabolic" and a "she-devil."
"She has definitely lost some weight, it's tough for her to sleep," he said. "If you put yourself in her shoes where in a matter of days a judge and jury are going to decide what happens to your life, I don't know if I'd sleep very well either."
Curt Knox said his family hoped to one day reach out to the family of Kercher, who was on a year-long exchange programme in Italy when she was killed.
"In interviews we have done we have tried to send our deepest condolences for the loss of their daughter," he said.
"But until they know Amanda had nothing to do with the loss of their daughter I don't know how they would accept our condolences personally. But I really look forward to the day we can reach out to them and they know the truth that Amanda had nothing to do with it."
(Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala and Gabriele Pileri)