Standing in a packed but hushed courtroom, her hands raised with her fingertips touching as if in prayer, 24-year-old Amanda Knox proclaimed. “I am not what they say. I did not do the things they said I did. I didn’t kill. I didn’t rape. I didn’t rob.”
Her prayer was answered Monday as an eight-person Italian jury found her not guilty in the killing of her roommate, British exchange student Meredith Kercher.
Knox, 24, collapsed in tears after the jury declared that the evidence against Knox and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was not reliable. Both were then taken back to prison where they were to be formally freed.
Kercher, a British student, was on a year-long exchange program in Perugia, as was Knox. Police investigators testified Kercher was pinned down and stabbed to death as she resisted attempts by Knox, Sollecito and another Italian man to involve her in an orgy.
The prosecution’s case was undermined by independent forensic experts who disputed police assertions that traces of DNA belonging to Knox and Kercher were found on a kitchen knife identified as the murder weapon. The experts also said traces of Sollecito’s DNA on the Kercher’s clothing may have been contaminated.
The defense argued that there is no clear motive or evidence linking the defendants to the crime. They told the jury Knox was falsely implicated by prosecutors determined to get a conviction to further their careers.
As Knox waited for the verdict to be read, she appeared tense — leaning forward in her chair as if in prayer for her fate.
Earlier a tearful Knox in flawless Italian that she learned during her four years in prison, told the jury that she did not kill her friend and roommate. She paused numerous times for breath and fought back tears as she spoke to the jury. One woman juror appears to be in tears as Knox finished her 10-minute statement.
“I lost a friend, in the most brutal and inexplicable way possible,” Knox told the court. “My absolute faith in the police authorities was betrayed, I’ve had to face absolutely unfair and baseless accusations. I am paying with my life for things I did not commit. I want to go home. I want to go back to my life. I do not want to be punished and to have my life taken away from me for something I have not done – because I am innocent.”
The jury considered whether her 2009 convictions — 26 years imprisonment — should stand, be dismissed or if the term should be shortened or extended. Prosecutors had asked for 40 years.