An Italian appeals court overturned the conviction of American Amanda Knox, who was imprisoned for murdering her roommate in 2007. She was ordered immediately released from prison.
After spending four years behind bars, Knox tearfully told the appeals court that she did not kill her 21-year-old British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
In 2007, minutes before British student Kercher’s death, Kercher and Knox were allegedly fighting, according to Rudy Hermann Guede, a Black man already convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing Kercher. His sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.
Guede said that he was listening to music on his iPod in the bathroom when he heard a very loud scream. He then rushed into Kercher’s bedroom where he saw Knox’s boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who tried to attack him.
He says that he was the one who tried to save Kercher and that he heard Sollecito say “Let’s go, there’s a Black man in the house” to a silhouette he later identified as Knox.
Knox and Sollecito had been convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher in a sex game gone wrong. Kercher was found in a pool of blood covered by a duvet the following day.
"I've lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible," Knox told the eight-member jury and two judges as she fought back tears and spoke in Italian on Monday. "I'm paying with my life for things that I didn't do."
Sollecito also addressed the court saying that he had never hurt anyone in his life.
Knox and Sollecito were serving 26- and 25-year prison sentences, respectively. Sollecito’s conviction was also overturned and he was ordered released.
The Kercher family looked on grimly as the verdict, after 11 hours of deliberations, was delivered. Hundreds outside of the courthouse shouted, "Shame, shame!" after learning that the two were now free.
There is no word on whether prosecutors will appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court.
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(Photos: Oli Scarff/Getty Images; Franco Origlia/Getty Images)