UPDATE: Amanda Knox Found Guilty by Italian Court
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian ex-boyfriend, were found guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher in 2007 by an Italian appeals court Thursday. The ruling re-instates a finding that Knox and Sollecito successfully appealed in 2011 and means Knox, who has returned to the United States, faces a prison sentence of more than 28 years if extradited to Italy.
This story was originally posted 11:28 a.m. Thursday:
Amanda Knox, the American student accused of killing her British roommate during a study-abroad program in Italy in 2007, awaited a new verdict from an Italian court Thursday.
This is the third trial in which Knox has stood accused of murdering Meredith Kercher, who was found stabbed to death in the student apartment the two shared in Perugia, Italy, Reuters reported.
Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of the murder in 2009 and spent more than four years in custody. The two were acquitted on appeal, but the Italian supreme court dismissed the acquittal on grounds that key evidence had been omitted during the appeal, USA Today reported.
The retrial began Sept. 30 with neither Knox nor Sollecito in attendance. However, Sollecito returned to Italy to testify in November.
"I would like to make you understand that these charges against me are absurd," he said, according to CNN. "There was not a basis to charge me, to put me in jail. ... I don't wish anybody on Earth to go through what I went through."
Knox returned to her home in Seattle in 2011 and has not gone back to Italy. She sent a written statement to the Florence court noting her fear of "the universal problem of wrongful conviction," USA Today said.
"I must repeat to you. I'm innocent. I did not rape, I did not steal ... I did not kill Meredith," Knox wrote in an email presented to the court by her lawyer.
If Knox is found guilty of the murder and staging a robbery to hide it, she could receive 26 years in prison, in addition to another four years for a standing slander conviction, Reuters said. But since she has refused to come back to Italy for the trial, the country would have to pursue her extradition. A legal expert tells CNN that even if Italy did seek Knox's extradition, the U.S. would not allow it because U.S. law says an individual cannot be tried twice on the same charges.
"Under U.S. law, she was once put in jeopardy and later acquitted," former prosecutor Sean Casey said to CNN. "Under the treaty, extradition should not be granted."
But both sides still could challenge the new findings. Knox's attorney is confident the court will absolve his client, calling the knowledge of her innocence "rock-solid."
"It is impossible for the court to convict someone because they are 'probably' guilty or 'may be' guilty," Carlo Dalla Vedova said, according to USA Today.