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Amanda Knox's murder conviction upheld on appeal

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) - An appeals court in Florence on Thursday upheld the guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition if the conviction is confirmed.

Lawyers for Knox and her co-defendant, Raphael Sollecito, vowed to appeal to Italy's highest court, a process that will take at least another year and drag out a legal saga that has divided court watchers in three nations.

In a statement from Seattle, where she had awaited the verdict at her mother's home, Knox said she was "frightened and saddened" by the decision. She said it was "unjust" and the result of an overzealous prosecution and narrow-minded investigation that worked to "pervert the court of justice."

"This has gotten out of hand," she said. "Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."

After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court reinstated the guilty verdicts first handed down against Knox and Sollecito in 2009 for the death of Meredith Kercher. Those verdicts had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.

Kercher, 21, was found dead Nov. 2, 2007 in a pool of blood in the bedroom of the apartment she and Knox shared in the central Italian city of Perugia, where both were studying. Her throat had been slashed and she was sexually assaulted.

Knox and Sollecito, who had just started dating a few days earlier, were arrested within the week. A third defendant, Rudy Guede of Ivory Coast, was convicted in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder.

Knox and Sollecito maintained they were at Sollecito's apartment the night of the murder, smoking marijuana, watching a movie and making love.

A statement from Knox after the ruling appeared less aimed at persuading Italy's highest court to find her innocent in the upcoming appeal than at rallying supporters in the U.S. to resist a possible extradition request if the conviction is upheld.

Experts have said it's unlikely that Italy would request Knox's extradition before the verdict is final. If the conviction is upheld, a lengthy extradition process would likely ensue with the U.S. State Department ultimately deciding whether to turn Knox back over to Italian authorities to finish serving her sentence.

Mary Fan, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at the University of Washington Law School in Seattle, said any decision by the State Department is "a matter of both law and politics."

"The U.S. courts don't sit in judgment of another nation's legal system," Fan said. Nevertheless, "Many Americans are quite astonished buy the ups and downs in this case, and it's the U.S. that will ultimately be making the call about whether to extradite."

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Knox's home state of Washington, said she was "very concerned and disappointed" by the verdict and was confident the appeal would re-examine the decision.

"It is very troubling that Amanda and her family have had to endure this process for so many years," she said in a statement. "I will continue to closely monitor this case as it moves forward through the Italian legal system."

Knox's attorney, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said he had called Knox by telephone and informed her that the Florence court had not only confirmed the guilty verdict, but had increased the sentence from the original 26 years.

"She was petrified. Silent," he said.

Sollecito was in court Thursday morning, but didn't return for the verdict. Sollecito's lawyers said they were stunned by the conviction and Sollecito's 25-year sentence and would appeal.

"There isn't a shred of proof," attorney Luca Maori said.

Attorney Giulia Bongiorno said she had thought the appeals trial had gone in her client's favor. "I don't think there can be a written ruling that justifies this verdict," she said.

Presiding Judge Alessando Nencini ordered Sollecito's passport revoked but made no requests for Knox's movements to be limited, saying she was "justifiably abroad."

Kercher's brother and sister were in the courtroom for the verdict, and said the outcome was the best they could have hoped for.

"It's hard to feel anything at the moment because we know it will go to a further appeal," said her brother, Lyle Kercher. Asked if he was satisfied, he said: "No matter what the verdict was, it never was going to be a case of celebrating anything."

In his closing arguments, Knox's lawyer, Dalla Vedova, had told the court he was "serene" about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is "the innocence of Amanda Knox."

"It is not possible to convict a person because it is probable that she is guilty," Dalla Vedova said. "The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty."

Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done to Knox when they held her overnight for questioning without legal representation and without advising her that she was a suspect.

Knox had returned to Seattle after spending four years in jail before being acquitted in 2011. In an email to this court, Knox wrote that she feared a wrongful conviction.

The first trial court found Knox and Sollecito guilty of murder and sexual assault based on DNA evidence, confused alibis and Knox's false accusation against Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner, which resulted in a slander verdict that has been upheld on final appeal. A Perugia appeals court dismantled the guilty verdict two years later, criticizing the "building blocks" of the conviction, including DNA evidence now deemed unreliable by new experts, and the lack of motive.

Italy's highest court ordered the third trial in a scathing dismissal of the appeals court acquittal, ordering the examination of evidence and testimony it said had been improperly omitted by the Perugia appeals court as well as addressing what it called as lapses in logic.

In Florence, the new prosecutor, Alessandro Crini, redefined the motive, moving away from the drug-fueled erotic game described by his colleagues in Perugia. Crini contended that the outburst of violence was rooted in arguments between roommates Knox and Kercher about cleanliness and was triggered by a toilet left unflushed by Guede, the only person now in jail for the murder.

Courts have held that Guede, a small-time drug dealer originally from Ivory Coast who had previous convictions for break-ins, did not act alone.

Italian Court Finds Amanda Knox Guilty Of Murder

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bottsma February 02 2014 at 12:30 PM

It is ridiculous. There was no evidence to support the conviction to begin with. The police manufactured and lied from the get go. If this had happened in the United States these two people would never been brought to trial to begin with.

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jeezysgirl200 February 01 2014 at 7:09 PM


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pam February 01 2014 at 7:08 PM

Read "Waiting to Be Heard," written by Amanda Knox herself. She is innocent and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. No DNA....except from Guede. From the beginning the Italian prosecution have made up a story about what they wanted to believe about Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Rafaelle . She was only twenty years old when this horrible crime happened. She wasn't at the scene of the crime and she wasn't capable of this crime. Unfortunately she is guilty of being American, young and naive. Would your 20 year old know what to do if her roommate was brutally murdered in a foreign country? I don't think many young Americans would know what to do. She thought she was helping the police but instead they interrogated her without her knowledge and did so by extreme means. She didn't have representation nor knew enough to ask for it. They made up a story about her that wasn't true and decided to build "evidence" around their made up story and it didn't work as was found by their court of Appeals in 2011. The Italian prosecutors are a dangerous bunch, they are liars, as now they switched their own made up story once again. They are more concerned about being right than doing right. I pray that Amanda Knox does not get extradited back to Italy.

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Braven2U February 01 2014 at 5:29 PM

This just makes me sick!!! Three times to be prosecuted and once found innocent-come on! I feel for the family of the victim my God, I do, BUT IT IS NOT HER...I know they want someone to blame for closure it's understandable but to a point. The Italian so called Government has really done an INJUSTICE...thank GOD I don't live there now I will never visit either. Maybe we can all start a petition on Change.org for Amanda Knox in appeal to the Italian Government----we need signatures and she needs anything she can get-imagine if we were facing those 28 years??? Any organizers??? email me

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sfenske February 01 2014 at 5:05 PM

Three times a charm...Italians are a joke.

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Hello Mary February 01 2014 at 4:21 PM

This is not a witch hunt on the part of the Italians. I know, I lived in Italy for 10 years. They are passionate about justice but they are characteristically color/culture blind. They do not profile like western culture. There is a great deal of diversity in Italy and a lot of crime. There not going to go after someone unless it's about justice. Yes, A.K. and R.S. DNA was found at the crime scene. I think it was on M.K. clothing.

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Charlie February 01 2014 at 1:30 PM

there is something wrong with the way she reacts to all of this. a person may say they are "saddened" by the loss of a love one but i don't think a person would say they are "saddened" to hear they just have been found guilty of murder.

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jsimancas February 01 2014 at 1:24 PM

let see how our government going to act. In my opinion maybe I am wrong , Amanda must be extradite to Italy is the second time she is declared Guilty we are holding a guilty person , she want a third time? you can tell by the way she acts, speak and in her eyes she either knows who killed the brittish girl or she did it herself but she is hiding something

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Charlie February 01 2014 at 1:13 PM

amanda said she was "saddened" by the court's ruling. i don't think people react like this if they have just been convicted of murder. and her crying defense and "i am the victim" routine is all wrong. the dead girl is "the victim". if she didn't do it she should act like she didn't do it instead of boo hooing at every photo op to make people pity her. if she did do it she should brush up on her italian.

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Jim and Sandy February 01 2014 at 1:00 PM

Let's see now........it couldn't have been me, I was at the bar with my boss. He's the real killer. Next day interview with police...........it wasn't me, I didn't leave my beau's apartment until 10:30 the next morning. We watched a movie, smoked up, and made love all night long. Then the next interview with police.............no way it could have been me. I was nowhere near my apartment. I was at a nightclub with my friends, I think. LOL

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