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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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allen upholstery January 30 2014 at 7:01 PM

It sounds like a conviction on circumstancial evidence

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tehgal19 January 30 2014 at 7:09 PM

I used to enjoy travel to Italy loving both the clothes I purchased and food enjoyed there. I now have no interest to go there and live in terror of anyone traveling there now. I will never go back to Italy. Glad to be here in America, where one is not tried over and over again. This gal has been living imprisioned for all these years already.

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a54b January 30 2014 at 9:22 PM

that is the epitome of a kangaroo court.

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marglindsey January 30 2014 at 9:22 PM

The Italian legal system was put in place by Mussolini and the Fascists and requires a defendant to prove him/herself innocent. Prosecutors can basically say anything they want about a defendant, including blatant lies and false characterizations (which is what seems to have happened in this case) with impunity. Although the only link between Ms Knox and her roommate was that they lived in the same house, the prosecutors came up with the story that because Ms Knox is beautiful and was open about her sexual activity that she and her boyfriend and the victim were all involved in a sex game that went wrong, even though the African man whose DNA was found inside and on the victim had already been convicted of the crime. I feel very sorry for this young woman that this tragedy is not yet over. I am sad that the victim's family believe she is guilty. If Ms Knox is smart she will NOT go back to Italy.

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1 reply
mmwwil marglindsey January 30 2014 at 9:28 PM

We did the same tio black americans for years. Even worst. we knew that we killed them for crimes that they did not commit. We castrated them and burned them in the streets in fromnt of thjeir children . The chickens are home.

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1 reply
dockfive mmwwil January 30 2014 at 10:27 PM

so why should someone who wasnt even born yet when black americans were killed for crimes they didnt commit,were castrated,and burned in the streets in front of their children be convicted of a murder without any real physical evidence that proves they committed the murder

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Sir.JJ Stryyker January 30 2014 at 7:10 PM

Hey Amanda, The Italian government wants to burn somebody. ""Anybody"" How a jury can find you "not guilty" and then the Italian Government turn on that jury, is way beyond my understanding.
It sounds like the sesond jury has either been threatend or paid off. There was no new evidence found since the first trial...... I wouldn't turn my self in to a country full of MORONS... jjr.

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1 reply
inmyopinion4u Sir.JJ Stryyker January 30 2014 at 7:18 PM

No the second jury found her innocent. This was the THIRD trial which is now saying she's guilty.
1st trial: Guilty
2nd trial: Innocent
3rd/this verdict: Guilty
4th: Amanda RUN! RUN Like Forrest Gump...do NOT look back! Fight it from a safe place that doesn't allow "extradition" to Italy!!

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frabittz January 30 2014 at 7:10 PM

On the first trial,wasnt the prosecutor under scrutiny for corruption and misuse of the court system and didnt he screw up on the dna evidence? Kinda seems a bit like here in Ma.! Anyway ,what kind of bogus court system operates on the assumption of guilty untill proven innocent along with we get as many times as we want to try to make sure we can nail you guilty or not?

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rleehollister January 30 2014 at 7:10 PM

I DONT KNOW WHAT KIND OF COURT SYSTEM THEY HAVE. I FEEL FOR ALL THE FAMILIES INVOLED BUT YOU NEED HARD EVIDENCE TO CONVICT SOMEONE. ALSO NOW SAYING YOU HAVE NEW EVIDENCE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOWED THEN . IT'S ALMOST LIKE THEY HAVE A POINT TO PROVE OR POWER. LEAVE THESE FAMILIES ALONE SO THEY CAN GET ALONG WITH THEIR LIVES. TO THE FAMILY WITH THE LOST NOTHING IS GOING TO BRING HER BACK YOU NEED TO PRAY AND LET GOD HAVE.

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crafty454 January 30 2014 at 7:10 PM

I suppose in Italy you keep trying a case until you get the outcome you (Italy) like

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buknekkid January 30 2014 at 7:11 PM

So I guess in Italy they just keep putting Americans on trial until they can find them guilty. Too bad they don't have laws like us. She was innocent the first time, here it would have been over and done with. But I guess there they can say they found new evidence (can't here) and try you again and again. Remind me to put Italy on my list of countries to never visit.

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micheal January 30 2014 at 7:11 PM

IN THIS COUNTRY WE HAVE A DOUBLE JEOPARDY LAW, AND SINCE SHE WAS FOUND INNOCENT OF THE CRIME ALBEIT IN A SECOND TRIAL, AT LEAST IN THE COUNTRY SHE CAN NO LONGER BE PROSECUTED. HOPEFULLY OUR SYSTEM WORKS TO PROTECT HER, AND SHE THINKS TWICE BEFORE LEAVING AMERICA FOR ANY REASON

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