FOURTH TIME’S THE CHARM: Amanda Knox was Cleared of Charges by Italian Court, ‘I’m the Lucky One’

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When asked who she thought killed her friend she replies, ‘I really can’t do that right now.’ Then turned and walked away.

Amanda Knox made an emotional statement outside her mother’s Seattle home on Friday night – just hours after she and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were sensationally cleared of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

Surrounded by her father, Curt Knox, mother, Edda Mellas, sister, Deanna Knox, and fiancé, Colin Sutherland, the 27-year-old broke down in tears as she told the press: ‘Meredith was my friend and she deserved so much in this life. I am the lucky one.’

She added that she was ‘full of joy’ following Italy’s highest court’s decision to overturn her murder conviction, saying: ‘I’m incredibly grateful for what has happened. For the justice I have received, for the support I have had from everyone, from my family and my friends to strangers.’

Placing her hands over her chest, she continued: ‘You have saved my life and I’m so grateful to have my life back. Thank you and that’s all i can say. Right now i’m still absorbing what all of this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that has been given to me.

‘I’m still absorbing the present moment which is full of joy.’

When asked whom she believes killed 21-year-old Kercher in November 2007, Knox, who was donning a purple long-sleeved top, black trousers and black pumps for the announcement, replied: ‘I really can’t do that right now’. She then walked back inside the house with her loved ones.

Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas, told reporters that the family needed ‘time to digest’ the ruling, which comes seven years after Kercher was found dead with her throat cut in the flat she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy. But Mellas added with a beam: ‘We’re so grateful that everything is finally right.’

Earlier Friday, Knox had screamed with delight as she and Sollecito were cleared of murdering her former roommate. Joyous shouting was also heard coming from her family’s back garden in the Seattle suburb of Arbor Heights, where many of her relatives had gathered to await the verdict.

The decision by the Supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the seven-year-long case and definitively ends the gruelling legal battle waged by Knox and her co-defendant, Sollecito. The pair had always maintained their innocence in the high-profile killing of Kercher.

Shortly after the verdict, Knox, who has said she would never willingly return to Italy, released a statement, saying she was ‘tremendously relieved and grateful’ and knowing she was innocent gave her ‘strength in the darkest times of this ordeal’.

She added: ‘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.’

As news of the ruling spread, Knox’s father was pictured hugging and kissing his wife Cassandra, while her step-sisters Ashley and Delaney happily waved to photographers as they walked outside the family home. Knox’s sister Deanna was also seen beaming and making a ‘thumbs up’ gesture.

Throughout Friday afternoon, neighbors delivered bottles of champagne to the door of the property, while a stone cast on the driveway read: ‘The World Loves Amanda’. At one point, Knox’s relatives were pictured dancing in the street as they celebrated their loved one’s freedom.

Meanwhile, Sollecito discovered his conviction had been overturned when his lawyer called him from outside court with the news, exclaiming: ‘You have your whole life ahead of you now, Raf.’ Luca Maori later told reporters: ‘He almost couldn’t speak. Eight years of nightmare over.’

On Friday, Cassandra, Ashley and Delaney spoke openly about their excitement at Knox’s acquittal saying: ‘We’re happy campers, we’re happy happy! Its about time – we knew all along.’ Other friends and relatives gathered in the family’s back garden amid an atmosphere of relief and jubilation.

Some of them could be heard yelling: ‘Freedom! Freedom!’

Their joy contrasted the emotions felt by the family of Kercher, whose mother Arline said she was ‘shocked’ at the decision to overturn Knox and Sollecito’s convictions. ‘I am a bit surprised, and very shocked if I’m honest. I don’t know what to say,’ she told reporters shortly after the verdict.

‘They have been convicted twice so it’s a bit odd that it should change now.’ She added that she could not see how evidence previously accepted in the murder case could now be discredited. 

Earlier Friday afternoon, two men arrived at Knox’s home with what looked like a case of beer and shortly afterwards her step-sister Ashley, sister Deanna and stepmother Cassandra turned up with bags of food. They looked positive and happy as they awaited the court in Rome’s verdict.

‘Finished!’ Knox’s lawyer Carlo Vedova yelled in Rome after the decision was read out, adding: ‘It couldn’t be better than this.’

Her other lawyer, Dalla Vedova, said he called Knox to tell her the news but couldn’t speak through her tears, saying: ‘She was crying because she was so happy.’

And her spokesman David Marriott admitted the verdict was unexpected, adding: ‘I personally feel overjoyed that the truth has won out, that she is innocent.’

Both Knox, who was awaiting the verdict in her home town of Seattle, and Sollecito have long maintained their innocence.

Knox and Sollecito were originally convicted of murder and sexual assault in December 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in jail respectively.

But after they had already served four years in prison, a court in Perugia threw out the couple’s coviction and declared them innocent.

Knox returned to the US before another U-turn in the sensational case in January last year when a court in Florence reinstated the original 2009 conviction and increased Knox’s sentence to 28-and-a-half years. 

Now Italy’s highest court in Rome has overturned last year’s convictions and declined to order another trial.

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