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.
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She was expected to fly out as soon as possible to the United States, possibly out of Rome. Knox's family was relieved at the verdict, with her sister, Deanna, telling reporters that "We are thankful to the court for having the courage ... to overturn the conviction. We now respectfully ask that you give Amanda and the rest of our family our privacy that we need to recover from this horrible ordeal."Skip to next paragraph
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Sollecito's father, Francesco Sollecito, also expressed relief at his son's acquittal. "It's evident that Raffaelle had nothing to do with the death of that poor girl, Meredith Kercher, who is in our hearts in any case."
Dismay among victim's family
Knox’s acquittal dismayed the Kercher family, who said at a press conference before the verdict that they wanted her original verdict upheld, saying the evidence pointed to her guilt.
“We were satisfied the last time and nothing has changed since then,” said her sister, Stephanie Kercher, before the verdict was handed down.
They said their Italian lawyers had battled the “large PR machine” that swung into action in the United States to protest Knox’s innocence.
Miss Kercher was stabbed to death in the hillside cottage she shared with Knox and two Italian women.
Prosecutors maintained that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede had forced Kercher into a group sex game which spiraled into extreme violence. But serious doubts emerged over the evidence used to convict her, with accusations that police and forensics experts bungled the initial crime scene investigation.
None of Knox’s DNA was found in the bedroom in which Miss Kercher was stabbed to death.
The prosecution claimed that Knox’s DNA was on the handle of the presumed murder weapon, a kitchen knife, and Kercher’s genetic material on the blade, linking the American to the killing.
They also said that Sollecito’s DNA was found on a bra clasp, which had been cut or torn off the bra, proving that he took part in the attack.
But a review of the evidence by two independent experts from La Sapienza University in Rome found that the DNA traces were too low to be reliable and so small that they could not be retested.
There were also doubts over the murder weapon.
Police and prosecutors said Kercher was killed with a kitchen knife found in a drawer in Sollecito’s apartment.
But the blade of the knife did not match two out of three of the wounds to her neck. Nor did it match a bloody, knife-shaped smear on Kercher’s bedclothes.
The prosecution struggled to come up with witnesses who could place Knox and Sollecito at the scene of the crime.
But they insisted that the murder was carried out by more than one person because of the lack of injuries to Kercher’s hands – a fact which suggested that her arms had been pinned back by at least one person while another plunged the knife into her neck.
There seemed to be no convincing motive for the murder. Prosecutors initially said the crime was inspired by the occult and Halloween fantasies.
They then claimed that tensions between Knox and Kercher had reached boiling point over disagreements about housework, personal hygiene, and boyfriends.
In the end, the prosecution said they could not fathom the reason for the murder but insisted that Knox and Sollecito had carried it out. Those arguments were comprehensively rejected by the jury.
American television networks are reportedly offering large sums of money for her first interview, and a book and film are also said to be in the pipeline.