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October 3rd, 2011
05:02 PM ET

Amanda Knox to go free after jury overturns murder conviction

A jury cleared Amanda Knox of murder and other charges on Monday, nearly four years after she was arrested on suspicion of having killed her roommate in this picturesque Italian university town.

The jury evidently believed Knox's impassioned final statement to the court, delivered in a voice trembling with emotion.

"I am not what they say I am - perverse, violent. ... I haven't murdered. I haven't raped. I haven't stolen," Knox said in the most important speech of her life.

Knox was, however, judged guilty of defamation against Patrick Lumumba, an early suspect in the case. She had accused club owner Lumumba of killing British college student Meredith Kercher in 2007 in Perugia.

Lumumba was arrested but later released after his alibi checked out.

She and her defense team succeeded in overturning a conviction handed down two years ago by a different jury, which found her and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito guilty of killing of Kercher, who was sexually assaulted and killed. Her throat had been slashed.

"I am innocent," Knox said Monday. "Raffaele is innocent."

Sollecito put his claim simply in his own closing statement before Knox spoke.
“I have never hurt anybody," he said.

As he concluded, he dramatically removed his plastic "Free Amanda and Raffaele" bracelet, saying: "I have never taken it off since it was given to me. ... I think now is the moment to take it off."

His voice almost inaudible, he concluded, "I hope this is part of history and that Amanda and I have a future." Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga reminded the jury Monday that they had to be convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Knox and Sollecito were guilty if they were to uphold the conviction.

At least four members of the jury - composed of six members of the public and two judges - must have concluded they did, indeed, have doubts about her conviction. A majority ruling was all that was needed to throw out the conviction, with a tie favoring the defense. The actual vote will remain secret, but the main judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellman, will file a statement explaining the jury's reasoning within 90 days of the ruling.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder, sexual assault and related crimes related to Kercher's death in December 2009. A third man, drifter Rudy Guede, was convicted separately of involvement in the killing and is serving 16 years.

In the appeal, lawyers for Knox and Sollecito picked apart DNA evidence that played a role in the original conviction.

Part of the original prosecution case was based on DNA evidence found on a knife and on a bra clasp belonging to Kercher.

During the appeal, experts for the two sides battled over whether the DNA evidence was reliable.

They also fought over the character of Knox.

The lawyer for a man falsely accused of the crime called Knox "Lucifer-like, demonic, Satanic," while Sollecito defense counsel Giulia Bongiorno insisted that, like the buxom cartoon temptress Jessica Rabbit in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Knox is not bad, just "drawn that way."

Knox herself acknowledged the debate Monday in her closing statement.

"People always ask 'who is Amanda Knox?'" she said. "I am the same person I was four years ago. ... The only thing that now separates me from four years ago is my suffering.

"In 4 years, I've lost my friends in the most terrible and unexplainable way. My trust in the authorities and the police has been damaged. I had to face charges that were totally unfair, without any basis. And I am paying with my life for something I haven't done."

Knox was 20 and Kercher was 21 years old, studying at Perugia's university for foreign students, when Kercher's semi-naked body was found in the house they shared.

Sollecito, 23 at the time, was Knox's boyfriend, studying computer science at another university in Perugia.

Either side can appeal this court's ruling to Italy's High Court, but such an appeal would be on narrow technical grounds only.

CNN’s Drew Griffin takes a look at Amanda Knox’s life growing up for CNN Presents: “Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story.”


Filed under: Amanda Knox • Drew Griffin
September 7th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Amanda Knox judge: No new DNA evidence

The judge in the Amanda Knox trial Wednesday rejected a prosecution request for new DNA testing as the American fights her conviction for killing her British housemate, Meredith Kercher.

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman also rejected prosecution efforts to introduce newly found records about the original testing and to hear a new witness - all victories for Knox's defense, which opposed the motions.

Knox's father Curt told CNN after the rulings he was optimistic his daughter would come home soon.

But Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing the Kercher family, said the rulings were not a defeat, and that he understood why the judge rejected the requests.

The judge adjourned the hearing until September 23, when final arguments are expected to begin. The earliest possible verdict date is September 29, under a timetable released by the judge Wednesday.

Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were found guilty of the killing in 2009, two years after Kercher's semi-naked body was found in the house they shared inPerugia,Italy.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Sollecito got 25. A third defendant, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate fast-track trial.

Lawyers fighting for Knox and Sollecito this week have worked to cast doubt on DNA evidence found on the knife and Kercher's bra clasp.

DNA on the knife used to kill Kercher could not have been from blood, a forensic expert testifying for Knox's defense told the court Wednesday.

CNN’s Drew Griffin traveled to Perugia, Italy, where he was granted a rare interview with Italian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini for CNN Presents: “Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story.”

FULL STORY

Filed under: Amanda Knox • Drew Griffin