Judges decision in latest Amanda Knox verdict: acquitted

Update: A final decision in the case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito has been reached by the six judges in Italy’s highest court.

The pair have been cleared of all charges regarding the 2007 murder of Knox’x former roommate Meredith Kercher. The couple had always maintained their innocence.

Knox’s family say they are “tremendously relieved” and “thrilled” with the court’s decision, however Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kercher family, has expressed his disappointment with the verdict calling it “a defeat for the Italian justice system.” Meredith Kercher’s mother says she is “surprised and very shocked” by the decision.

The court decision is the final ruling in the long-running case. A reason for the ruling will be made public in 90 days.

Deliberations in the Amanda Knox case have been underway for more than nine hours by 2000 GMT, and were expected to continue until a verdict was reached.

Lawyers involved in the case said that the six judges, who have been deliberating since 10 a.m., will carry on until midnight. If by that time no consensus is reached, the judges will likely adjourn their discussions until Saturday morning.

Judges at Italy’s top court are deciding whether to uphold a previous murder conviction of Amanda Knox and then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Both were convicted for their part in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher. The judge’s decisions could end the eight-year legal drama that has plagued both Italy and the US.

In final arguments on Friday, Sollecito’s lawyer addressed the Court of Cassation saying last year’s ruling was flawed, citing mistakes on the number of stab wounds on Kercher and that what was described a woman’s bloody footprint was actually from a man.

“This is just a small taste of the mistakes that mean this verdict was a miscarriage of justice,” Giulia Bongiorno told the court.

“Raffaele Sollecito is an innocent who finds himself involved in extraordinary events without realizing it,” she said. “He’s like Forrest Gump. I ask you to annul the conviction.”

Amanda Knox is awaiting Italy’s top court decision at the home of her parents in Seattle, while Sollecito remains in Italy.

The US State Department is still not answering any questions about whether it would agree to extradite Knox in the event of another guilty verdict.

Spokesman Jeff Rathke says there have not been “any discussions of that kind” at the State Department. He told reporters: “There is an Italian legal process underway, so that’s where the situation resides.”

Anne Bremner, spokeswoman for the Friends of Amanda Knox support group, said, “It’s such a scary time for her and she’s very thankful for everybody’s support but what a difficult time after eight years, three trials, and now it’s at stake today.”

Prosecutors wrapped up their presentations on Wednesday by insisting that the Florence court called the case correctly.