Amanda Knox freed after jury overturns controversial murder verdict
Amanda Knox, an American exchange student sentenced by an Italian court to 26 years for the murder of Meredith Kercher, was acquitted Monday. Serious doubts had emerged over the evidence used to convict her.
Amanda Knox was dramatically acquitted on Monday of the murder of Meredith Kercher, her British roommate, bringing to an end a four-year case that galvanized world attention and raised questions about standards accepted by the Italian justice system in a capital case.Skip to next paragraph
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Since being accused of the murder, Ms. Knox had become an object of fascination in Britain and the United States, her home country. Noted for her good looks and criticized for her enigmatic behavior shortly after the murder, she was variously portrayed as a lying, manipulative temptress or an innocent abroad who became unwittingly caught up in a gross miscarriage of justice.
The latter depiction prevailed when the six jurors, aided by two judges, made their decision.
Whether Italians more broadly will accept the acquittal is unclear. When the news reached a crowd of about 1,000 locals waiting in the piazza outside the courthouse, there was uproar. Many of them shouted “shame,” with the chant reaching a crescendo when lawyers who had defended Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who was also acquitted, emerged to give live interviews on TV networks.
Some members of the crowd yelled “They condemned the black man” – a reference to Rudy Guede, who is serving 16 years in prison for the murder and has exhausted his appeals process.
Dramatic courtroom scene
When the verdict was handed down by a judge in a stone-walled, centuries-old courtroom in Perugia, a hill town overlooking the rugged Appenine Mountain range, Knox burst into tears and hugged and kissed her lawyers.
She later walked free from prison after the court ruled that she had served four years for a crime she did not commit. Mr. Sollecito was also released.
Murder victim Miss Kercher’s mother, sister, and brother looked stunned and saddened when the verdict, handed down after the jury deliberated for 11 hours, was read.
Jurors may have been swayed in their decision by an emotional address that Knox gave to the court today at the very end of the 11-month appeal.
Choking back tears, she said she had nothing to do with Kercher’s murder and begged the jury to acquit her.
“I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there,” the American said.
Speaking in the fluent Italian that she has learned in jail, she said: “I am paying with my life for a crime I didn’t commit. I want to go home. I want to go back to my life.”
The acquittal of her and her former boyfriend means that only one person now stands convicted of stabbing Kercher to death in her bedroom in November 2007: Mr. Guede, a local drifter who grew up in Perugia but who was born in the Ivory Coast.
Only one of the original charges against Knox was upheld - the slander of Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner in Perugia who she falsely accused of being the murderer.
The judge set the sentence at three years, but with the four years Knox has already served in jail, the sentence was effectively void.
She was ordered to pay him 22,000 euros in compensation plus legal costs. He spent two weeks in jail but was eventually cleared with a solid alibi.
Knox was driven from the courthouse in Perugia to nearby Capanne prison to gather her belongings and be formally discharged from the penal system.