Italy’s highest court overturned the murder convictions of Amanda Knox (left) and her former boyfriend, throwing out all charges that they had anything to do with the death of Knox’s study abroad roommate Meredith Kercher, a British student.

The ruling in favor of Knox, 27, and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, 30, was a shock to Italy and Britain.  It was the second time the court, known as the Supreme Court of Cassation, had vacated an appellate court ruling in the case which has become sensational fodder for years.

After 10 hours of deliberation, Judge Gennaro Marasca announced the court found that Knox and Sollecito are innocent.  The reasoning will be released to the public within 3 months.  A full exoneration in complicated cases is uncommon, typically a case is sent for retrial when inconsistencies or issues are identified.

“It’s very rare, and goes beyond our most optimistic predictions,” said Luciano Ghirga, a lawyer on Ms. Knox’s defense team.

Francesco Maresca, a Kercher family attorney, said his clients were “surprised” by the verdict and Kercher’s mother Arline said she was “a bit surprised and very shocked.”  Another Kercher attorney, Vieri Fabiani, said that the verdict showed the criticisms of the justice system of Italy are unfounded, “[the system] protects the rights of defendants”. Knox returned to the United States after her conviction was overturned the first time in 2011.

“I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy,” Ms. Knox said, “The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.”

Meredith Kercher was found dead on the morning of November 2, 2007, lying on the floor of her bedroom in Perugia, a college town popular amongst foreigners.  Knox and Sollecito were arrested a few days later and spent 4 years in prison before their convictions were overturned.

The case was retried and they were convicted until the highest court finally exonerated them.

Another man, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial of murder and sexual assault in the Kercher case.  He was sentenced to 30 years, but his sentenced was reduced to 16 during appeals.  He received such a low sentence because his defense convinced the court he was merely an accomplice and not the perpetrator.

Guede was a local drug dealer and became a suspect in the murder after his bloody fingerprint was found at the murder scene.  In fact, it was found under Kercher’s body.  His DNA was also found on her purse.  His bloody shoe prints were found in the bedroom and leading down the hallway toward the front door.

His DNA was also found inside Meredith Kercher’s body.  In addition, police found that when they started to look for him he had fled to Germany.

Guede repeatedly changed his story of the night of the murder in some versions he stated that Knox was not present, in others, he said he heard her and Kercher arguing.  Eventually he claimed that Kercher invited him over to the apartment and they started to become intimate when he excused himself to the bathroom.  He denied ever having intercourse with her, so he could not explain his DNA.

While in the bathroom, someone else murdered her, according to Guede.  Witnesses at the nightclub stated they never saw him talk to anyone that looked like Kercher.

None of his stories were accepted by the court and he was convicted.  However, the court concluded that they believed he didn’t act alone and that set off a firestorm against Knox and Sollecito.

Guede had a history of similar break-ins motivated by robbery.  He entered through an elevated window broken with a rock.  Glass was found at the scene of Kercher’s murder and a broken window 12 feet off the ground, but detectives concluded that it didn’t seem like a good entry point for a burglar so therefore the scene was staged.  He also had the habit of relieving himself in his victims’ toilets, which he did in Knox’s and Kercher’s apartment.

Not to mention that Guede had a cut on his hand, not an uncommon piece of evidence in a case where someone was stabbed to death, like Kercher was.  He was also known to threaten people with a knife who caught him burglarizing their homes or businesses.

He is currently appealing his conviction and is participating in a work release program.

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