The family and lawyer of murdered British student Meredith Kercher expressed their disappointment and shock with the acquittal of Amanda Knox – who was tried in absentia over the death.
Ms Knox, 27, who spoke from outside her mother’s home in Seattle, Washington, said she is “relieved and grateful” that a court overturned her conviction for the third time.
The US former exchange student was found guilty in 2011 and again last year before the highest court in Italy – the Court of Cassation – acquitted her again yesterday at the end of a lengthy appeal process.
When asked what she would say to the Kercher family, Ms Knox said: “Meredith was my friend. She deserved so much in this life.”
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
1/14 Amanda Knox 's lawyer arriving for the final verdict
Amanda Knox 's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova arrives at the Italy's Supreme Court in Rome on March 27, 2015, the day that Knox's verdict was overturned
2/14 Raffaele Sollecito's lawyer before the final verdict
Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Raffaele Sollecito, delivers comments at the Palazzo di Giustizia courthouse before the last session for the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murder retrial
3/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox sits alone before being interviewed on the set of ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
4/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox wipes her nose with a tissue while making a television appearance in New York, 2014
5/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
6/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence, 2014
7/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence. Judges in a Florence court gathered to decide whether US Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of the 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, 2014
8/14 Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher and brother Lyle Kercher
Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher (L) and brother Lyle Kercher speak during a press conference in Florence, 2014
9/14 Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini reads out the verdict
Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini (C) reads out the verdict for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Florence, 2014
10/14 Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova
(L-R) Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova attend the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito retrial at the Courthouse of Florence of Nuovo Palazzo di Giustizia in Florence, 2014
11/14 Amanda Knox on NBC News' 'Today' show
Amanda Knox speaks to Matt Lauer (L) as she appears on NBC News' 'Today' show in New York, 2013
12/14 Amanda Knox at a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport
Amanda Knox cries and gestures to friends while her mother Edda Mellas sits next to her during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after Knox landed there on a flight from Italy, 2011
13/14 Amanda Knox leaves the court
Amanda Knox breaking in tears as she leaves the court after the announce of the verdict of her appeal trial in the Meredith Kercher' murder at Perugia's court, 2011
14/14 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stand outside the rented house where 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher was found dead in Perugia, 2007
Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Ms Kercher's family, was disappointed by the ruling. He said: “I think that it's a defeat for the Italian justice system.”
The judges will release the reasons for their decision within 90 days after concluding that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence.
Ms Knox was sentenced in January – along with her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito – to 28 years in prison over the death of Ms Kercher, who was her flatmate in Perugia, Italy.
She claims that she found the body, which was naked except for a T-shirt pulled over her shoulders, after returning home on 2 November 2007 from a night at her boyfriend’s apartment.
Ms Kercher died of suffocation and blood loss from neck stab wounds.
Her mother Arline, from Surrey, said: “[I am] a bit surprised, and very shocked, but that is about it at the moment.
“They have been convicted twice so it's a bit odd that it should change now.”
Asked whether she had any plans following the ruling, she said: “I really don't know at the moment, I haven't got any plans.”
Rudy Guede, a 20-year-old man who lived in Perugia since the age of five, was sentenced in 2008 to 30 years in prison for the murder and sexual assault of Ms Kercher.
Although he was at the girls’ flat at the time of the murder, he claims he was out of the room at the time of the attack, that he had claimed was carried out by an intruder.
After his fingerprints were found at the crime scene, he was extradited from Germany – where he travelled to a few days after the murder – to Italy where a fast-tracked trial found him guilty in 2008 due to strong DNA evidence.
The court ruled that Guede’s account did not corroborate with the discovery of his bloody palm print on Ms Kercher’s pillow. He claims she was clothed at the time he left the room for the bathroom. His sentence has since been reduced to 16 years.
Ms Knox claims she first saw the body when she returned home the following day. She was accused of having been involved in a twisted sex game with her boyfriend and Guede, in which Ms Kercher was the victim.
None of her DNA was found on the body while multiple traces of Guede’s DNA were found on Ms Kercher, inside her body and around her bedroom – according to court documents.
Sollecito has also been acquitted of the murder conviction, for which he was sentenced to 25 years.
Ms Knox’s mother Edda Mellas said she is “so thankful that everything is finally right” after her daughter had spent four years in prison before travelling back to the US and refusing to return to Italy to reappear in court.
Since having returned to Washington, Ms Knox finished a creative writing degree and now works as a theatre critic and freelance journalist for her local West Seattle Herald newspaper.
Standing with her mother and fiancé Colin Sutherland, she responded to a question about what her future holds by saying: “I don’t know. I’m still absorbing the present moment, which is full of joy.”Reuse content