Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted last night of the murder of Meredith Kercher two years ago.
The 22-year-old American girl got 26 years and Sollecito 25. The judge and jury announced their verdict at midnight after nearly 14 hours of deliberation at the end of an 11-month emotionally charged trial involving 51 hearings.
Knox stood firm, but then broke down and was taken out of court. She was heard sobbing loudly, shouting “No, no!” as she was taken back to prison. She could hardly walk and was supported by Luciano Ghirga, one of her lawyers. Her sister cried out in shock, and her stepmother burst into tears. Asked if they would fight on, Curt Knox, her father, said: “Hell yes”. Two of the female jurors were also in tears as Judge Massei read out the sentence.
Knox and Sollecito were also convicted of sexual assault, but cleared of a charge of theft. In addition Knox was found guilty of defaming Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner whom she initially accused of being the murderer but who was released without charge after two weeks. Witnesses testified he had been at his bar on the night of the crime.
Knox and Sollecito, 25, were ordered to pay €5 million in compensation to the Kercher family for their loss as well as all court costs.
Kercher, 21, from Coulsden, Surrey, had been studying at Perugia’s University for Foreigners. She was found dead on 2 November 2007 in the bedroom of the house she shared with fellow student Knox.
Prosecutors alleged that Sollecito held Kercher down while Rudy Guede, a 22-year-old Ivory Coast-born drifter, tried to sexually assault her and Knox stabbed her.