AMANDA Knox has declared her innocence over the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in an email to the Italian court hearing the case against her,
The American said she was staying away from the trial out of fear of being wrongly convicted.
In the letter, submitted to the appeal court in Florence by her lawyers before their closing arguments, she wrote: "I didn't kill Meredith."
She added she was not in court because she was afraid prosecutors would "blind" the court to her innocence.
Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini read into the record the email, written in Italian, noting it was highly unusual given Ms Knox's absence.
Ms Kercher, 21, of Coulsdon, Surrey, was killed in the apartment she shared with Ms Knox in the university town of Perugia in November 2007. Her throat had been cut and her body left beneath a blanket in her bedroom.
Prosecutors claim Ms Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, carried out the murder with another man, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence.
The case is being tried for a third time after Italy's highest court annulled a 2011 appellate court ruling throwing out their initial murder convictions. The high court's scathing opinion tore apart the lower court's decision to free the pair as full of errors and contradictions.
Ms Knox, now 26, spent four years in prison until she was freed in 2011 and returned to the US.