PERUGIA, Italy — American college student Amanda Knox was found guilty of murdering her British roommate and sentenced to 26 years in prison early Saturday after a year-long trial that gripped Italy and drew intense media attention.
Her co-defendant, former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years. The two also were found guilty of sexual assault in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old student from England.
“No, no,” Knox said, bursting into tears and clinging to one of her lawyers as the judge read the verdict just after midnight following some 13 hours of deliberations.
Minutes later, the 22-year-old Knox, who is from Seattle, and the 25-year-old Sollecito were put in police vans with sirens blaring and driven back to jail.
Prosecutors had sought life imprisonment, Italy's stiffest sentence. Courts can give less severe punishment than what prosecutors demand.
The American's father, Curt Knox, asked if he would fight on for his daughter, replied, with tears in his eyes: “Hell, yes.”
“This is just wrong,” her stepmother, Cassandra Knox, said, turning around immediately after hearing the verdict. Her family had insisted she was innocent and a victim of character assassination.
The family said later in a statement they would appeal the ruling.
One of Knox's attorneys, Luciano Ghirga, was asked if she was distraught. “Yes, I challenge anyone not to be,” he replied.
Silence fell on the packed and tense courtroom as the jurors walked in. Kercher's mother and sister cried at the verdict.
“The sentence is fair and satisfactory for the family,” said their lawyer, Francesco Maresca. “It was a heartfelt sentence. There is deep suffering on all sides.”
A juror, a woman, also looked like she was crying after the verdict.