BBC Home > BBC News > UK

Amanda Knox guilty of Meredith Kercher murder

5 December 09 06:02 GMT

American student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend have been found guilty by an Italian court of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

Knox, 22, bowed her head and burst into tears as she was jailed for 26 years for murder and sexual violence.

Italian Raffaele Sollecito, 25, looked impassive as he was given 25 years.

Miss Kercher, 21, a Leeds University student from Surrey, was found with her throat slit in Perugia in 2007. Knox had denied killing her in a sex game.

But prosecutors said Sollecito held her down while Knox stabbed her to death.

The pair committed the killing with small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 22, who was jailed for 30 years for murder and sexual violence last October.

Police are still not certain why Knox, Sollecito and Guede were all at the house together, but they suspect it involved a drugs transaction.

'Media lies'

They cornered Miss Kercher in her room and began some kind of sex game which ended with her being held down while Knox cut her throat with a six-inch kitchen knife.

Her semi-naked body was found in a pool of blood.

Afterwards they tried to make the death look like part of a failed burglary, breaking the window in Miss Kercher's room to look like forced entry. But police realised it had been done from the inside.

Knox's odd behaviour after the body was found also aroused suspicions - she was reported to have performed a cartwheel and done the splits while waiting to be questioned by police.

After the judge read the verdict to a hushed court, Knox buried her head in her lawyer's chest and sobbed.

Her sister Deanna wept uncontrollably as Knox was led out of court crying.

Miss Kercher's family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said they were satisfied with the verdict.

He said: "They got the justice they were expecting. We got what we were hoping for.

"With what we got with the Guede sentence last year, we have obtained truth and justice for this tragic event."

The Kercher family are due to hold a press conference at a hotel in Perugia at 1000 GMT.

Knox's family, meanwhile, left court in tears, fighting through the crowds of journalists gathered outside.

A spokesman for Knox's parents said they would immediately start the process of appealing against her guilty verdict.

Compensation award

In a statement, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas said: "Amanda is innocent and we will continue to fight for her freedom... we are extremely disappointed.

"While we always knew this was a possibility, we find it difficult to accept this verdict when we know that she is innocent.

"The prosecution has failed to explain why there is no evidence of Amanda in the room where Meredith was so horribly and tragically murdered."

They also criticised the media for the way their daughter had been portrayed, claiming this had an effect on the verdict.

They said: "It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda's character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution's case against her."

In Seattle her grandmother, Elisabeth Huff, added: "They didn't listen to the facts of the case. All they did was listen to the media's lies."

The court ordered Knox and Sollecito to pay one million euros to Miss Kercher's mother and the same amount to her father.

Her siblings would each receive 800,000 euros, the court ruled.

Knox was told she must also pay 40,000 euros compensation to local barman Patrick Lumumba, for falsely accusing him of the murder.

Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, had been sharing a house with Knox, also a student, on her year abroad in the Umbrian hilltop town.

The trial of Knox and Sollecito started on 16 January this year.

The jury deliberated for 13 hours before reaching its verdict.

Related BBC sites

*