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AP | File
File photos shows from left; Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, slain 21-year-old British woman Meredith Kercher and her American roommate, Amanda Knox.

Amanda Knox murder conviction upheld

FLORENCE, Italy – An appeals court in Florence has 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 28 1/2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition.

After nearly 12 hours of deliberations Thursday, the court reinstated the guilty verdict first handed down against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009. The verdict 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 in Florence.

While Solecito was in court Thursday morning, he didn’t return for the verdict, and Knox was half a world away awaiting the decision with, in her own words, “my heart in my throat.”

This was Knox’s and Italian Raffaele Sollecito’s third trial for the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the Italian university town of Perugia.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova told the court he was “serene” about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is “the innocence of Amanda Knox.”

“It is not possible to convict a person because it is probable that she is guilty,” Dalla Vedova said. “The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty.”

Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done to Knox when they held her overnight for questioning without legal representation and without advising her that she was a suspect.

The panel of two professional judges and six lay jury members remained closed in chambers after more than 11 hours of deliberations.

Knox, 26, awaited the verdict in Seattle, where she returned after spending four years in jail before being acquitted in 2011. In an email to this court, Knox wrote that she feared a wrongful conviction.

Knox’s absence does not formally hurt her case since she was freed by a court and defendants in Italy are not required to appear at their trials.

Sollecito, 29, on the other hand, has made frequent court appearances, always in a purple sweater, the color of the local Florentine soccer club.

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