FLORENCE, Italy — An appeals court in Florence on Thursday upheld the guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox was sentenced to 281⁄2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition if the conviction is confirmed.
Lawyers for Knox and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, vowed to appeal to Italy’s highest court, a process that will take at least another year and drag out a legal saga that has divided court watchers in three nations.
In a statement from Seattle, where she had awaited the verdict at her mother’s home, Knox said she was “frightened and saddened” by the decision. She said it was “unjust” and the result of an overzealous prosecution and narrow-minded investigation that worked to “pervert the court of justice.”
“This has gotten out of hand,” she said. “Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system.”
After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court reinstated the guilty verdicts first handed down against Knox and Sollecito in 2009 for the death of Meredith Kercher. Those verdicts had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy’s supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial.
Kercher, 21, was found dead Nov. 2, 2007 in a pool of blood in the bedroom of the apartment she and Knox shared in the central Italian city of Perugia. Her throat had been slashed and she was sexually assaulted.
Knox and Sollecito were arrested within the week. A third defendant, Rudy Guede of Ivory Coast, was convicted in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder.
Knox and Sollecito maintained they were at Sollecito’s apartment the night of the murder, smoking marijuana, watching a movie and making love.