PERUGIA, Italy – Accoring to Foxnews.com, after hours of deliberation, an Italian appeals court Monday ruled to overturn Amanda Knox’s conviction for murder, allowing Knox to leave prison and return to the United States.
This case has captured the attention of the world, and especially the Italian and US twenty four hour news cycle.
And why not? This case has in all. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, and oh yeah, murder. A naked co-ed found brutally killed in Knox’s apartment.
Beautiful American girl goes to study in Italy, and gets into all sorts of trouble. Makes a great movie premiss. There already was a made for TV movie of the first trial staring Hayden Panettiere in ”Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy.”
Unfortunately, it is very real and at the end of the media loving storyline, a girls remains dead.
The court upheld Knox’s previous conviction of slander for accusing bar owner Diya “Patrick” Lumumba of carrying out the killing. He set the sentence at three years, crediting her for time served. Knox has been in prison since Nov. 6, 2007.
The entire case appeared to be shaky legal ground from the start with an over zealous prosecutor and evidence that was suspect at best. Still, Knox did herself no favors as she offered no plausible explanation other than proclaiming her innocence.
Knox collapsed in tears after the verdict was read out Monday. Her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, also was cleared of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in 2007.
The Kercher family looked on grimly as the verdict was read out by the judge after 11 hours of deliberations by the eight-member jury. Outside the courthouse, some of the hundreds who had gathered in the street shouted “Shame, shame!”
Yet inside the frescoed courtroom, Knox’s parents, who have regularly traveled from their home in Seattle to Perugia to visit the 24-year-old over the past four years, hugged their lawyers and cried with joy.
“We’ve been waiting for this for four years,” said one of Sollecito’s lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno.
Prosecutors can appeal the acquittal to Italy’s highest court. There was no word late Monday if they planned to do so.
Earlier Monday, Knox delivered a tearful 10-minute address in Italian to the packed courtroom asking them to allow her to return to the U.S. and saying she did not kill her British roommate.
“I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn’t there,” Knox said.
“I’ve lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible,” she said of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Briton who shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. “I’m paying with my life for things that I didn’t do.”
Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend from Italy, were convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. They both deny wrongdoing.
“I never hurt anyone, never in my life,” Sollecito said Monday in his own speech to the jury.
Hundreds of eager observers gathered outside the courthouse ahead of the highly anticipated announcement, joining television vans that have been camped out for more than a week. One hundred reporters were being allowed into the subterranean courtroom.
Kercher’s mother, sister and a brother traveled to Perugia for the verdict. They had expressed worry over the possibility of an acquittal but told reporters as deliberations were under way that they hoped the jury would do the right thing and not be influenced by the media’s focus on the case.
“As long as they decide today based purely on the information available to them and they don’t look into the media hype, I think justice will be found,” the victim’s sister, Stephanie Kercher, told reporters. She said the family was satisfied with the original verdicts.
She lamented that Meredith had been “most forgotten” in the media circus surrounding the case, with news photos more frequently showing Knox and Sollecito than “Mez” — the victim’s nickname. “It’s very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this,” she said.
The family, however, said it could understand the Knox family’s media campaign.
“They fully believe in her innocence. You can’t blame them for that,” said Lyle Kercher, the victim’s brother. “But it’s obviously hard for us.”
As the verdict was broadcast live, hundreds of reporters and camera crews filled the underground, frescoed courtroom before Knox’s address, while police outside cordoned off the entrance to the tribunal.
The trial has captivated audiences worldwide: Knox and Sollecito had been convicted of murdering Meredith in what the lower court said had begun as a drug-fueled sexual assault.
Knox insisted Monday that she had nothing to do with the murder and that Kercher was a friend who was always nice to her. Gesticulating, at times clasping her hands together, the American said she has always wanted justice for Kercher.
“She had her bedroom next to mine, she was killed in our own apartment. If I had been there that night, I would be dead,” Knox said. “But I was not there.”
“I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn’t there,” Knox said.
After the morning court session, Knox was relaxing in the prison chapel, playing guitar and singing as she awaited the verdict, according to an Italian lawmaker who visited her in prison Monday. According to her family, she had been tense over the weekend with little sleep. Obviously with her life in the balance she felt the pressure of verdict.
Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, a small-time drug dealer and drifter who spent most of his life in Italy after arriving here from his native Ivory Coast. Guede was convicted in a separate fast-track procedure and saw his sentence cut to 16 years in his final appeal.
He will remain in jail.
Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito believe Guede was the sole killer, but the prosecution and a lawyer for the Kercher family say that bruises and a lack of defensive wounds on Kercher’s body prove that there was more than one aggressor holding her into submission.
Knox said she had nothing more than a passing acquaintance with Guede, who played basketball at a court near the house, and didn’t even know his name. Sollecito, who addressed the court before Knox, told jurors that he did not know Guede at all.
Sollecito was anxious as he addressed the court, jostling as he spoke and often stopping to sip water. He said prior to the Nov. 1, 2007 murder was a happy time for him, he was close to defending his thesis to graduate from university and had just met Knox. He alluded that he had no motive to commit such a crime,
The weekend Kercher was murdered was the first the pair had planned to spend together “in tenderness and cuddles,” as he put he said. The weekend apparently veered into one of drugs, alcohol and ultimately murder.
At the end of his 17-minute address, Sollecito took off a white rubber bracelet emblazoned with “Free Amanda and Raffaele” that he said he has been wearing for four years.
“I have never taken it off. Many emotions are concentrated in this bracelet,” he said. “Now I want to pay homage to the court. The moment to take it off has arrived.”
Now what is next for Knox? Most assume she will cash in on her fame and hit the talk show circuit, sell her story, and basically get caught up in the American Celebrity machine.
Will she ever tell what she really knows happened that night. Or will she smile a tainted smile when the lights go out in her first night back in Seattle in the near future? Only she will ever know that, amongst other things.
One thing for sure, guilty or innocent she is a rich girl.
The report was compiled by Insidecelebrities.com with information gathered from Foxnews.com, Fox News and CNN.