An Italian court has reinstated the original guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 murder of her British roommate.
In 2009, Knox was found guilty of murdering 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, but the verdict was overturned two years later. Last year, Italy's Court of Cassation overturned the acquittal and sent the case back to an appeals court in Florence.
The latest ruling reinstates the initial verdict and sentences Knox, who currently lives in Seattle, to 28 1/2 years in prison and is likely to set up a long battle over her extradition.
The Associated Press says:
"After nearly 12 hours of deliberations Thursday, the court reinstated the guilty verdict first handed down against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito...."
"While Sollecito was in court Thursday morning, he didn't return for the verdict, and Knox was half a world away awaiting the decision with, in her own words, 'my heart in my throat.'"
The New York Times writes:
"In his closing arguments to the court in November, the prosecutor, Alessandro Crini, asked for guilty verdicts, demanding a 26-year sentence for Mr. Sollecito and 30 years for Ms. Knox. The additional four years for Ms. Knox take into account a conviction for slander, which was upheld by Italy's high court. Shortly after the killing on Nov. 1, 2007, Ms. Knox accused her Congolese-born boss of the crime. He was arrested but later released when his alibi was confirmed."
"A third man, Rudy Guede, born in the Ivory Coast but a resident of Perugia since he was a child, has been convicted of the crime in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence."
"Knox and Sollecito can lodge a further appeal with the Supreme Court. Even if the previous acquittal is upheld Thursday, legal experts said a further trial could take place if new evidence is made available."
"Much of the attention has focused on Knox, 26, who has remained in Seattle during this trial, citing her fear of "the universal problem of wrongful conviction," according to her statement emailed to the Florence court. Her representatives say she is concentrating on her studies at the University of Washington."
Update at 7:25 a.m. ET, Jan. 31. Sollecito Stopped At Border:
"Italian authorities stopped Raffaele Sollecito — convicted with ex-girlfriend Amanda Knox of the murder of Meredith Kercher — near the border with Austria and Slovenia, Italian police told CNN on Friday. Sollecito, who is not allowed to leave Italy while the legal process continues, was halted in the northern Italian town of Udine, police said."
Update at 5:20 p.m. ET:
Reuters quotes Knox on Thursday as saying she's frightened and saddened by the "unjust" verdict.
"Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Knox said in a statement released by her spokesman.