Italian appeals court clears Knox of murder

PERUGIA, Italy - (AP) - An Italian appeals court threw out AmandaKnox's murder conviction Monday and ordered the young Americanfreed, a stunning reversal four years after she was jailed for thedeath of her British roommate. Knox, 24, collapsed in tears after the verdict overturning her2009 conviction was read out, her lawyers draping their arms aroundher in support. Her co-defendant, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, alsowas cleared of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in 2007. It wasn't clear how soon Knox could leave Italy but nothing inItalian law would prevent her from returning home, even ifprosecutors appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court, legalexperts say. One of Knox's lawyers, Carlo della Vedova, said he didn't knowwhen Knox would leave Italy. Knox had an outdated passport that hadto be renewed, but it's not clear how quickly that could be done orif the paperwork was already completed. The eight-member jury acquitted both Knox and Sollecito ofmurder after a court-ordered review of the DNA evidence castserious doubts over the main DNA evidence linking the two to thecrime. "We've been waiting for this for four years," said one ofSollecito's lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno. The judge upheld Knox's conviction on a charge of slander foraccusing bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba of carrying out thekilling. He set the sentence at three years, meaning for timeserved. Knox has been in prison since Nov. 6, 2007. The Kercher family looked on grimly and a bit dazed as theverdict was read out by the judge after 11 hours of deliberations.Outside the courthouse, some of the hundreds of observers shouted"Shame, shame!" The victim's sister, Stephanie Kercher, who was in Perugia withher mother and brother for the verdict, lamented that her sister"has been nearly forgotten." "We want to keep her memory alive," she said after theverdict. Yet inside the frescoed courtroom, Knox's parents, who haveregularly traveled from their home in Seattle to Perugia to visitKnox over the past four years, hugged their lawyers and cried withjoy. Knox herself was so overwhelmed with tears that two guardspulled her arms to escort her out of the courtroom. Prosecutors can appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court.There was no word late Monday if they planned to do so.

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