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Amanda Knox Verdict: Murder Conviction Overturned

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An Italian court has overturned the conviction of 24-year-old American Amanda Knox. Knox was found not guilty of killing her British roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, in 2007, and will be freed from jail.

Knox collapsed in tears after the verdict overturning her 2009 conviction was read out.

Earlier Monday, Knox tearfully told the court she did not kill her roommate. Knox frequently paused for breath and fought back tears as she spoke in Italian to the eight members of the jury in a packed courtroom, but managed to maintain her composure during the 10-minute address.

After the morning court session, Knox relaxed in the prison chapel, playing guitar and singing as she awaited the verdict, according to an Italian lawmaker who visited her in prison Monday.

Knox's co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, also was cleared of the murder after a court-ordered review of the DNA evidence cast serious doubts over the main DNA evidence linking the two to the crime.

Convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, a small-time drug dealer and drifter who spent most of his life in Italy after arriving here from his native Ivory Coast. Guede was convicted in a separate fast-track procedure and saw his sentence cut to 16 years in his final appeal.

The Kercher family looked on grimly and a bit dazed as the verdict was read out by the judge after 11 hours of deliberations by the eight-member jury. Outside the courthouse, some of the hundreds of observers shouted "Shame, shame!"

Yet inside the frescoed courtroom, Knox's parents, who have regularly traveled from their home in Seattle to Perugia to visit the 24-year-old over the past four years, hugged their lawyers and cried with joy.

"We've been waiting for this for four years," said one of Sollecito's lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno.

The judge upheld Knox's conviction on a charge of slander for accusing bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba of carrying out the killing. He set the sentence at three years, meaning for time served. Knox has been in prison since Nov. 6, 2007.

Prosecutors can appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court. There was no word late Monday if they planned to do so.

In Seattle, about a dozen Knox supporters were overjoyed that she has been cleared of the murder conviction.

"She's free!" and "We did it!" they shouted at a hotel where they watched the court proceedings on TV.

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The Perugia court room earlier today.

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According to a friend, Amanda Knox just wants to go home, restart her life and "win back her happiness," the Associated Press reports.

AP writes:

Corrado Maria Daclon, the secretary general of a foundation that has championed Knox's cause, drove with Knox as she left Perugia's Campanne prison after an appeals court overturned her 2009 conviction for the sexual assault and stabbing death of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

Daclon quoted Knox as telling him as she left prison that she just "wanted to go home, reconnect with her family, take possession of her life and win back her happiness."

The AP also reports Knox is likely to return to the United States on Tuesday.

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The Daily Mail reportedly published an erroneous story, saying the Italian appeal court found Knox guilty of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

HuffPost Media writes:

British blogger Malcolm Coles caught the Daily Mail's huge error, writing, "I'm not sure it can get more embarrassing than this for a news site." According to Coles, the newspaper jumped the gun, publishing its pre-written story as soon as the judge deemed Knox guilty for defamation.

Read the full story here.

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A recap of key dates in the Amanda Knox trial on HuffPost World.

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"As you could see from the images, Amanda was a nervous wreck who just collapsed," Maria Del Grosso, one of Knox's lawyers told reporters. "She wasn't able to say anything other than 'thank you' in a flood of tears."

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The U.S. State Department said it appreciated the "careful consideration" the Italian justice system gave to the case, the Associated Press reports. "Our Embassy in Rome will continue to provide appropriate consular assistance to Ms. Knox and her family," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the news service after the verdict.

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The Independent-reporter Peter Popham tweets from Perugia:

@ peterpopham : Weird mood in Perugia's medieval heart, thugs baying for Amanda's blood, robbed of the witch they wanted to burn.

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Getty captured Amanda Knox leaving Perugia's court on Monday night. Knox will reportedly return to her hometown Seattle as soon as possible.

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Did world media coverage affect Amanda Knox's trial? Vote here.

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Amanda Knox has left prison, The Telegraph reports:

"Knox has just been driven out of Capanne prison for the last time, ending her four year nigthmare."

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The Guardian reports:

The first person to reach her after the verdict was announced was Dalla Vedova's junior, Maria del Grosso. "She was terror-struck", Del Grosso said. "If I had not held her, she would have fallen."

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CNN reports Amanda Knox is preparing to leave prison.

@ CNNLive : #AmandaKnox prepares to depart an Italian prison following her acquittal on murder charges. Live:

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The Associated Press reports on supporters' reaction here:

A group of Amanda Knox supporters burst into applause and cheers Monday when they learned an Italian appeals court had thrown out the Seattle native's murder conviction in the death of her British roommate.

"It's unreal," John Lange, Knox's former teacher, kept repeating after the verdict was read.

Read more on Knox supporters' reaction here.

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The Telegraph takes a look back at the case and Knox's appeal here.

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Raffaele Sollecito is congratulated in Perugia's Court of Appeal after hearing that he won his appeal against his murder conviction on October 3, 2011 in Perugia, Italy.

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Amanda Knox's sister, Deanna, addressed reporters outside the courthouse just after the verdict was read:

“We're thankful that Amanda's nightmare is over. She has suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit. We are thankful for our lawyers … and their assistants. Not only did they defend her brilliantly, but they also loved her. We are thankful for the support we have received from all over the world. People who took the time to research the case and could see that Amanda and Raffaele were innocent. And last we are thankful to the court for having the courage to look for the truth and to overturn this conviction. We now respectfully ask you to give Amanda and the rest of our family our privacy that we need to recover from this horrible ordeal. Thank you."

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People react outside Perugia's court before the announce of the verdict in the appeal trial of US Amanda Knox for the Meredith Kercher' murder on October 3, 2011 at Perugia's court.

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According to The Guardian, Knox now returns to her prison cell for some formalities before her release.

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As soon as the verdict was announced, Twitter reactions begin streaming in. Here's a look at tweets reacting to the news.

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Here's raw video of Knox learning the verdict:

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The Seattle Times is rounding up local reaction in Seattle. Tom Wright said of the verdict, "To Amanda herself, we say, way to go kid. We will welcome you with open arms and open hearts." More here.

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When the verdict was read aloud, Knox collapsed in tears, some in the courtroom cheered. Protesters outside, however, could be heard shouting "murderer," according to The Telegraph.

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