Italy's highest court ruled on Friday to overturn the convictions of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend in the 2007 death of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, ending an eight-year legal process that has frayed relations between the United States and Italy.
According to Kim Hjelmgaard and John Bacon of USA Today, the six judges of the Court of Cassation announced their decision on Friday evening. Knox, 27, released a statement from her home in Seattle about her acquittal.
"I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy," Knox said. "The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal."
Knox also thanked her supporters, adding that "Your kindness has sustained me."
Massimiliano Di Giorgio of Reuters reported that Italy's high court threw out the second guilty verdict handed down to Knox and 31-year-old Raffaele Sollecito for the lethal stabbing of Kercher, citing that there was insufficient evidence to convict either of them. There had been speculation that a retrial could have been ordered instead, which would have its own legal challenges due to the complicated extradition treaty signed between the U.S. and Italy.
"I cannot tell you how I feel in this moment," Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga said outside the courtroom in Rome.
According to Reuters, prosecutors wanted to sentence Knox to 28 years and three months in jail, while Sollecito would have faced 24 years and nine months. Both have already served four years in jail after being originally convicted in 2009.
"The acquittals almost eight years after the murder are sure to stoke further controversy and questions about the Italian justice system, which has now twice overturned guilty verdicts in the case," Giorgio wrote.
USA Today reported that the latest ruling has brought the eight-year case to a close. It also struck down last year's guilty verdicts by a Florence appeals court; the judges will release their reasoning behind the ruling within 90 days.
"You never saw Raffaele pleading, or praying. He has been a rock," Sollecito's lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said. "He is at home with his father and he is very happy. The verdict has proved him completely right."
Luciano Girgha, one of Knox's lawyers, told Agence France-Presse that the verdict has restored the battered credibility of the Italian judicial system.
"It was a brave decision," Girgha said. "It has renewed by faith in the system."
Girgha added that Knox "finally got her life back" and "always insisted she was innocent."
Despite completing her studies and finding work as a journalist, AFP reported that Knox will be haunted by this case for the rest of her life.
"She is unlikely ever to be able to live a completely normal life such was the fascination with a case that had an irresistible combination of a youthful, photogenic cast, a particularly brutal crime and an endless supply of headline-friendly detail," AFP wrote.
As for the victim's family, Kercher's mother said that she was "surprised and very shocked" by Friday's ruling. According to AFP, Arline Kercher called the decision "odd."