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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.
Police on Friday found Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend near Italy's border with Slovenia and Austria. Raffaele Sollecito's lawyer, Luca Maori, said his client was in the area of Italy's northeastern border because that's where his current girlfriend lives, and that he went voluntarily to police.
In a statement, Knox said she was "frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict."
Here is Knox' entire statement:
First and foremost it must be recognized that there is no consolation for the Kercher family. Their grief over Meredith's terrible murder will follow them forever. They deserve respect and support.
I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, nothing has changed. There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.
This has gotten out of hand. Most troubling is that it was entirely preventable. I beseech those with the knowledge and authority to address and remediate the problems that worked to pervert the course of justice and waste the valuable resources of the system: overzealous and intransigent prosecution, prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory, and counterproductive and coercive interrogation techniques that produce false confessions and inaccurate statements.
Clearly a wrongful conviction is horrific for the wrongfully accused, but it is also terribly bad for the victim, their surviving family, and society.
"I'm going to fight this to the very end," she said in an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Knox said she has written a letter to the family of her slain British roommate, Meredith Kercher, expressing sympathy for the legal ordeal that continues more than six years after she was stabbed and sexually assaulted.
"I want them to know I understand this is incredibly difficult. They also have been on this never-ending thing. When the case has been messed up so much, a verdict is no longer a consolation for them," Knox said during Friday's interview.
"And just the very fact that they don't know what happened is horrible," Knox said.
"They deserve respect and the consolation of some kind of acknowledgement," she said. "I really wish them the best."
Knox can appeal the verdict. Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the group "Friends of Amanda Knox" and has volunteered to work on her behalf, says she is even more stunned than when the Italian appellate court overturned a previous finding of innocence and ordered a new trial.
"The court of appeals said that the forensic evidence was incompetent, compromised and not admissible, and that was all they had. And it was all thrown out by independent experts appointed by the judge. So the question is what did they consider this time around?"
Italy could seek to have her extradited under a treaty with the United States. Bremner says that would require a formal proceeding before a U.S. federal judge in Seattle.
"There are occasions where the State Department has declined extradition," Bremner says. She says the treaty would allow what she calls "actual, factual innocence as a defense," which Bremnar argues Knox has "without a doubt."
The judge could also decline extradition based on the U.S. law which prohibits "double jeopardy," since Knox was already found innocent once.
While Solecito was in court Thursday morning, he didn't return for the verdict. Knox remained in Seattle throughout the trial, awaiting the decision with, in her own words, "my heart in my throat."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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