Amanda Knox learned her fate at last as the verdict in her high-profile appeal of a murder conviction was read aloud in an Italian courtroom this evening.
It was overturned. The jury found her not guilty of murder, but guilty of defamation. She was ordered to be set free immediately after her acquittal.
Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also cleared today, were sentenced to 25 and 26 years in prison following their 2009 convictions.
The 24-year-old student tearfully denied brutally killing roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, 2007, pleading for freedom earlier Monday.
“I am not what they say I am. I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal,” Amanda Knox said this morning, her voice trembling with emotion.
It was the most important speech of her life. It showed, and it worked.
“People always ask me, ‘who is Amanda Knox?’ I am the same person that I was four years ago, exactly the same person,” she continued.
“The only thing that now separates me from four years ago is my suffering.”
Knox and her family, present in Perugia, Italy, for the verdict, have always claimed that Amanda’s imprisonment was a monumental judicial mistake.
The jury was made up of the presiding judge, a side judge and six jurors, five of them women, and had several options regarding deliberations.
They could acquit both defendants and set them free, which they did. They also could have upheld the conviction, but changed the sentence.
Over the course of the trial, the defendants’ appeal had significantly improved, mainly because a court-ordered independent review cast serious doubts over the main DNA evidence linking the two to the crime.
Prosecutors maintain that Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of a kitchen knife thought to have killed Kercher, whose DNA was on the blade.
They also said Sollecito’s DNA was on the clasp of Kercher’s bra as part of a mix of evidence that included the murder victim’s genetic profile.
But the independent review – ordered at the request of the defense, which had always disputed those findings – reached a different conclusion.
The two experts found that police conducting the investigation had made glaring errors in evidence-collecting and that below-standard testing and possible contamination raised doubts over the attribution of DNA traces.
In the end, a jury agreed. Unlike the Casey Anthony case, however, it appears that, at least to a degree, evidence helped clear Knox rather than simply being absent to the degree that she couldn’t be convicted. What do you think? Was justice served?