Image: Amanda Knox
Pier Paolo Cito  /  AP
Convicted murderer Amanda Knox, center, is seen leaving court on Friday after a final hearing before receiving the guilty verdict early on Saturday morning.
updated 12/5/2009 5:33:57 PM ET 2009-12-05T22:33:57

Amanda Knox sought comfort from visiting family members Saturday on her first day in prison since being convicted of murdering her British roommate.

The family of victim Meredith Kercher said the verdict brought a measure of justice. However, they said, it was not a time to celebrate.

Knox, a college student from Seattle, was tired and upset following the midnight verdict and sentence of 26 years in prison, according to family members and a lawyer who saw her.

"Amanda like the rest is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said after the visit to the prison just outside Perugia. "We told her that she's gonna get out of here. It's gonna take a little longer."

Reports of suicide watch
Knox and Kercher's families came to this central Italian town for the verdict, which was announced at around midnight after 13 hours of deliberations. The court also convicted Knox's co-defendant and former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, and gave him a 25-year jail term for the murder.

Knox and Sollecito are appealing the verdicts.

"She couldn't sleep all night," said lawyer Luciano Ghirga, who spent an hour with Knox at her jail just outside Perugia on Saturday morning. "She's worried for her parents, too, but she is keeping the faith needed for the next steps."

Ghirga said Knox was kept under strict surveillance. He denied reports that she had been put under suicide watch, which is the standard practice in such cases.

Kercher, 21, was Knox's roommate while they studied in Perugia.

'A little bit of justice'
Her body was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, at the apartment they shared. Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was murdered the previous night.

"Meredith still leaves a big hole in our lives and her presence is missed every time we meet up as a family," John Kercher Jr., one of her brothers, told a press conference in Perugia.

Kercher's sister, Stephanie, said the verdict "does bring a little bit of justice, for us and for her." But she added: "Life will never be the same without Mez."

The prosecutors said they were satisfied with the ruling and would not seek to appeal, even though the court did not grant their request for life imprisonment. Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that the verdict "recognizes the defendants are guilty of all the crimes they had been charged with."

In an interview with ABC News in the hours that followed the verdict, Curt Knox said he was "stunned."

"I just looked at them; I looked at the jurors," he told ABC. He then said he thought to himself: "'How could you even do this with what was presented in the court of law?'"

Character assassination
Knox's families and her supporters have long sought to cast doubt on the Italian justice system, contending the prosecution's case largely rested on character assassination.

The prosecutors say on the night of the murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Knox and Sollecito met at the apartment where Kercher and Knox lived. They say a fourth person was there, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast citizen who has been convicted in the murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Guede, who is appealing his conviction, says he was in the house the night of the murder but did not kill Kercher.

The prosecution says Knox and Kercher started arguing and the three brutally attacked and sexually assaulted the Briton. They were acting, according to the prosecution, under "the fumes of drugs and possibly alcohol."

They presented DNA evidence they said was linked to Knox and Sollecito, though these claims were disputed by the defense.

"You have to agree with the verdict. You have to go with the evidence, there's nothing else," Arline Kercher, the victim's mother, said of the verdict.

Symbolic fines
As part of the ruling, Kercher's parents were awarded $1.5 million each in compensation, while $1,200,440 were granted to Kercher's two brothers and sister each, said the family's lawyer, Francesco Maresca. He said this was only an initial sum. Maresca asked for a total of $38 million from Knox, Sollecito and Guede, and he said this request would be discussed in a separate civil proceedings.

Kercher's family, however, stressed that they were not expecting to receive any money, but the high compensation was a symbol of the gravity of their crimes.

The pair also was convicted of illegally carrying a weapon — the knife — and of staging a burglary at the house where the murder occurred by breaking a window, supposedly in an effort to sidetrack the investigation.

Knox also was convicted of defaming a Congolese man whom she initially accused of the killing. He was jailed briefly but was later cleared. Knox said during the trial that police pressure led her to initially accuse an innocent man.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Parents visit Knox

  1. Closed captioning of: Parents visit Knox

    >> door.

    >>> there's been emotional and bitter reaction on two continent continents to the conviction of amanda knox for the vicious murder of her roommate. tonight knox is behind bars where she has been sentenced to remain for the next 26 years. here in the u.s. her friends and supporters are calling the verdict a travesty of justice, perhaps tinged with anti-americanism. while in italy and great britain it's widely seen as a just outcome to a vicious crime. nbc is in perugia , italy .

    >> reporter: authorities placed amanda knox under close observation today, less than 24 hours after she was found guilty of murder and violent sexual assault. knox 's parents were allowed an unscheduled visit to the 22-year-old honor student from seattle.

    >> amanda, like the rest of us, is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision. we're all in shock.

    >> reporter: disbelief is how the family reacted to the verdict early this morning. the drama inside the courtroom spilled onto the streets where knox 's father appeared to be in shock. that quickly turned to anger.

    >> the system that has instilled reasonable doubt and one that in my mind at least summarized during closing arguments was so crystal clear that she should have been found innocent, much less not even dealing with the realm of reasonable doubt , and for them to come up with guilty is -- it just plos me away. it just angers me beyond all belief.

    >> what went wrong?

    >> this jury literally failed the italian judicial system . they failed the community of perugia , and they failed the country of italy .

    >> reporter: the six-member jury is not allowed to talk about the case in public, but they were not sequestered and had access to reporting and speculation about the crime. verdicts are not by unanimous decision in italy , and two judges who were part of the jury guided them on what the verdict should be. the prosecution theory is that knox and her former boyfriend killed meredith kercher , an exchange student from england, in a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong. knox maintains she's innocent.

    >> really one of the worst things about it is, you know, meredith herself, wherever she may be, she knows this is wrong, too.

    >> reporter: today the family of the victim said they were saturday with the verdict.

    >> we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision, but it's not time sundays it's noot time for celebration.

    >> reporter: it was a moment for tears back home in seattle. friends and relatives couldn't believe knox wasn't set free. knox 's lawyers say they will appeal the verdict once the judge's written decision is made public, but it will be at least three months before knox is back in court in the attempt to win her freedom. keith miller , nbc news, perugia .

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