Perugia, Italy American college student Amanda Knox was found guilty of murdering her British roommate and sentenced to 26 years in prison early today after a year-long trial that gripped Italy and drew intense media attention.
Her co-defendant, former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years. The two also were found guilty of sexual assault in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old student from England.
“No, no,” Knox said, bursting into tears and clinging to one of her lawyers as the judge read the verdict just after midnight following some 13 hours of deliberations.
Minutes later, the 22-year-old Knox, who is from Seattle, and the 25-year-old Sollecito were put in police vans with sirens blaring and driven back to jail.
Prosecutors had sought life imprisonment, Italy’s stiffest sentence. Courts can give less severe punishment than what prosecutors demand.
The American’s father, Curt Knox, asked if he would fight on for his daughter, replied, with tears in his eyes: “Hell, yes.”
“This is just wrong,” her stepmother, Cassandra Knox, said, turning around immediately after hearing the verdict. Her family had insisted she was innocent and a victim of character assassination.
The family said later in a statement they would appeal the ruling.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors depicted Knox as a promiscuous and manipulative she-devil whose personality clashed with her roommate’s. They say Knox had grown to hate Kercher.
The most intimate details of Knox’s life were examined, from her lax hygiene — allegedly a point of contention with Kercher — to her sex life, even including a sex toy.
“It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda’s character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case against her,” the statement said.
The eight-member jury was not sequestered during the trial.
Madison Paxton, Knox’s friend from the University of Washington, said: “They’re convicting a made-up person ... “They’re convicting ‘foxy Knoxy.’ That’s not Amanda.”
Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, in the bedroom of the house she shared with Knox while the two were studying in the medieval town of Perugia in central Italy. Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was murdered the previous night.