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5.12.09

Amanda Knox is guilty: Student gets 26 years in jail for drug-fuelled sex murder of British student Meredith Kercher

American student Amanda Knox was last night found guilty of the drug-fuelled sex murder of Meredith Kercher and jailed for 26 years.

The conviction, after 14 hours of deliberation, came two years and one month after 21-year-old Miss Kercher’s half naked body was found in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her Italian home.

Knox’s former lover Italian Raffaelle Sollecito, 25, was also found guilty and sentenced to 25 years.

Amanda Knox
Guilty: Amanda Knox leaves the court after she was found guilty at the end of an 11-month murder trial
 
Raffaele Sollecito
















Accomplice: Raffaele Sollecito is led away after being sentenced to 25 years for the murder
The student, who had been described as both demon and angel during the dramatic year-long trial, looked to her family in despair and screamed ‘No, No!’ as police led her from the courtroom in Perugia.


The family of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, sat in dignified silence, with her sister Stephanie quietly crying.

Patrick Lumumba, the local bar owner Knox had accused of being the killer, put his hand on her shoulder in a gesture of comfort.

Behind bars: Knox is driven into court at midnight to hear the sentence in her murder trial. She was led from the court wailing after the verdict
Behind bars: Knox is driven into court at midnight to hear the sentence in her murder trial. She was led from the court wailing after the verdict 

The family’s lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said: ‘They got the justice they were expecting. We got what we were hoping for.’

Sollecito’s stepmother shouted, ‘Rafaelle, No!’ as the verdict was announced.

Knox, who called herself Foxy Knoxy on a web page, and Sollecito were ordered to pay almost £4.5million compensation to the Kercher family. Knox, now exposed as a compulsive liar, was also ordered to pay £36,000 to Mr Lumumba whose business was ruined.

Amanda Knox guilty
The judge reads out the guilty verdict at the court in Perugia 

It's over: Meredith Kercher's father John (L-R), mother Arline and brother Lyle are driven away after the verdict
It's over: Meredith Kercher's father John (L-R), mother Arline and brother Lyle are driven away after the verdict

The pair were returned to Capanne jail near Perugia, where they were put on suicide watch.

Brunette Miss Kercher, a student at Leeds University, was just two months into a university exchange programme when her life was cut tragically short in a night of appalling brutality in November 2007.
Returning home from a quiet evening eating pizza and watching a DVD with British friends, she was subjected to a terrifying ordeal.

Sinister: Raffaele Sollecito in a macabre image that featured on his own website
Sinister: Raffaele Sollecito in a macabre image that featured on his own website

t is still not known at what point she was confronted in her bedroom by Knox, Sollecito, and drifter Rudy Guede, who was convicted of murder last year.

  Victim: Meredith Kercher was stabbed to death in Perugia over two years ago
Victim: Meredith Kercher was stabbed to death in Perugia over two years ago

Fuelled by drugs, the trio made depraved attempts to involve her in a sex game – finally holding a knife to her throat. When she still refused, they stabbed her, leaving her to bleed to death in slow agony.

It is thought to have been Knox who cut Miss Kercher’s throat, while Sollecito held her down and Guede tried to rape her. They left her body under a blood-soaked duvet.

Knox and Sollecito returned to the house the following day and ‘discovered’ the murder.

Initially detectives believed Miss Kercher may have been attacked by a burglar, as one of her windows was broken. But the mock break-in had been staged by the killers.

Knox’s ‘strange behaviour’ – she turned cartwheels in the police station – soon raised suspicions.

She made a series of conflicting statements to police followed by a bizarre ‘confession’ blaming Mr Lumumba. She said she put her hands over her ears as she heard Miss Kercher’s dying screams.

But Knox and Sollecito were trapped by DNA evidence. A kitchen knife was recovered at Sollecito’s house, with Knox’s DNA near the handle and Miss Kercher’s near the tip.

Knox, meanwhile, was described to the jury as ‘narcissistic, angry, aggressive, manipulative, transgressive, theatrical and easily given to disliking people’

Her lawyers claimed the DNA had been contaminated, but the jury of two judges and six civilians rejected the claim

Devastated: Amanda Knox's father Curt clutches the hand of another of his daughters as he leaves the court
Devastated: Amanda Knox's father Curt clutches the hand of another of his daughters as he leaves the court

'I don't get depressed,' she said. 'In these situations, I grieve and try to find the positives in important moments.'

Sollecito had also addressed the court on Thursday, saying that no motive had emerged for his alleged role in the murder.

He said: 'I am not violent, I never have been. I wasn't at the house (where Miss Kercher lived and died) that night.'

Stephanie Kercher, (background) and Arline Kercher, sister and mother of Meredith, arrive in Perugia for the verdict
Tense: Stephanie Kercher (background) and Arline Kercher, sister and mother of Meredith, arrive in Perugia for the verdict

Knox’s parents Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, who are divorced but attended court with their new partners, continually proclaimed their daughter’s innocence, claiming she had been misunderstood.

They are being sued by Perugia police after claiming their daughter was beaten into confessing.

Last night her father, asked if he would fight on, held back tears and said: ‘Hell, yes. This is wrong.’
An appeal will probably be heard within the next year.

Guede, 22, is already serving 30 years for sexual assault and murder.

Meredith's father John Kercher in Perugia
Fight for justice: Meredith's father John Kercher in Perugia



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