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Amanda Knox Freed And Cleared Of Murder Charges

Amanda Knox Freed And Cleared Of Murder Charges

The long nightmare that American Amanda Knox has been enduring for the past four years in an Italian prison is finally over today.  Cleared of murder charges by an Italian appeals court, Amanda Knox is free to return to the United States and her Seattle home.

The International media was crammed into the Italian courtroom waiting to hear the verdict.  The tension was so intense that Knox was bent over at the courtroom table and looked pale and even ill.  A female member of her legal team stayed next to her to comfort her and help her prepare for the verdict.

When the acquittal was announced she looked as if she was gong to collapse.  She was hurried from the courtroom, but crying and doubled over.  Knox was initially sentenced to 26years in jail for the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox's British roommate.  Knox has always maintained her innocence.

Arline Kercher, the mother of Meredith was at the announcement of the appeal verdict and sat stoicly long after Knox and her family left the courtroom.  In the street, the family was greeted with cheers and boos with some shouting "disgrace."  Knox's younger sister Deanna talked to the press.  She said "We are thankful that our nightmare is over. She has suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit."

Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in December 2009 of killing Kercher in a 2007 attack that left the British exchange student partially nude and bleeding to death from a slashed throat. Sollecito was also acquitted of the murder.  Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, have spent the last four years in an Italian prison and faced the prospect of a life sentence depending on today's appeals court ruling.

Knox Guilty Of Slander

The jury did find Knox guilty of slandering bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, a bar owner in Perugia who once hired Knox. Knox implicated Lumumba in the murder after nearly 50 hours of interrogation by police.  The maximum sentence for slander is three years in prison, but Knox has already served four years. She was also ordered to pay 22,000 euros to Lumumba.

Knox struggled through tears and, at times, a shaking voice, as she addressed the court in Italian.  "I want to go home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished... I don't want my future taken away from me for something I didn't do because I am innocent," she said.  "I didn't do what they say I did. I didn't kill. I didn't rape. I didn't steal. I was not there," Knox insisted.

She dismissed prosecution claims that her relationship with Kercher had become strained and angry.  "We had a friendship... She was concerned for me. She was always kind to me. She cared about me," Knox said.

The prosecution defended their evidence and dismissed the experts' conclusion as the shoddy work of people with little experience in genuine investigations.

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