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Tears as Amanda Knox's verdict is read

The American former exchange student and her family sob as she is found guilty of murdering her roommate.

American university student Amanda Knox's stepsisters Delaney and Ashley, sister Deanna, mother Edda and father Curt leave the Perugia jail after visiting Amanda, in Perugia, Dec. 5, 2009. An Italian court sentenced American student Amanda Knox to 26 years in prison and jailed her ex-boyfriend for 25 years after they were found guilty of murdering Knox's British roommate during a drunken sex game. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

ROME, Italy — After deliberating for 14 hours, a jury found American exchange student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty in connection with the gruesome murder of Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007.

The families of all three were on hand as the chair of the eight-member jury read the verdict and announced a sentence of 26 years in prison for Knox and one year less for Sollecito. The jury also ordered them to pay a third of 22 million pounds ($36.3 million) in damages sought by Kercher’s family. They were found guilty of all charges against them except for one minor charge of criminal theft.

A third suspect, Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, was previously found guilty in connection with Kercher’s slaying and sentenced to the maximum 30-year term in a fast-track trial. On Friday, he was also ordered to pay a third of the damages.

Knox and her family broke into tears as the verdict was announced, sobbing loudly after maintaining composure for the first few seconds after the verdict was announced. As she was lead away from the court, Italian television reported that Knox's sobs could be heard from the corridor that led to her holding cell.

Sollecito, who had been less composed than Knox during the trial, sat rigidly, staring into space. His father sat silently with his head in his hands and his stepmother appeared to hyperventilate.

(The reaction online was similarly virulent, as GlobalPost's student correspondents report.)

Knox was sentenced to an extra year for the additional charge of criminal slander for incorrectly implicating Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner who was cleared of charges after being held for two weeks. But both sentences were under the 30-year maximum allowed by law in murder cases.

Lawyers for both parties immediately announced their intention to appeal the sentence.

Knox’s parents said they had prepared two statements while waiting for the verdict. Their plan was to hold a 30-minute press conference and answer a few questions at Perugia’s Brufani Hotel if their daughter was found not guilty. With the guilty verdict, they simply had the statement they prepared read to the huge scrum of reporters covering the event, saying they were “extremely disappointed in the verdict rendered,” and adding that they “find it difficult to accept this verdict when we know that she is innocent.”

Similar reaction followed from the U.S., where U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Knox’s home state of Washington said she was “saddened by the verdict.” The Democratic senator said she had “serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.” Cantwell vowed to call for a review of the trial through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Italian embassy in Washington.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/italy/091204/amanda-knox-verdict-guilty