Victim’s family ‘satisfied’ with Knox conviction

Italy Student Slain
The family of a slain British woman said they were pleased with the murder conviction of Amanda Knox but said there was no sense of celebration. From left, John Kercher, father, Stephanie Kercher, sister, John Kercher, brother, Lyle Kercher, brother, and Arline Kercher, mother, in Perugia, Italy, on Saturday. Luca Bruno / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The family of a slain British woman said Saturday they were pleased with the murder conviction of American student Amanda Knox but said there was no sense of celebration.

Meredith Kercher's relatives made their first comments since a jury in Perugia, Italy, announced early Saturday that they had convicted Knox and sentenced her to 26 years in prison for the 2007 murder.

The court also convicted Knox's co-defendant and former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, and gave him a 25-year jail term.

"Ultimately we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision, but it's not a time for celebration," Lyle Kercher, the victim's brother, said.

Kercher's sister, Stephanie, said the verdict "does bring a a little bit of justice, for us and for her."

"Life will never be the same without Mez," she said.

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

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.

Knox, family react to verdict
As soon as the judge read the verdict just after midnight following some 13 hours of deliberations, Knox began weeping and murmured, “No, no,” then hugged one of her lawyers.

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 often 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.”

PERUGIA, ITALY - DECEMBER 05: Curt Knox (C), the father of Amanda Knox, is pursued by the media as he walks away from the courtroom with his stepdaughters after hearing his daughter's guilty verdict on December 5, 2009 in Perugia, Italy. Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have been found guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia on November 1, 2007. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)Oli Scarff / Getty Images Europe

“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.

One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, was asked if she was desperate.

“Yes, I challenge anyone not to be,” he replied.

A group of local youths who gathered outside the courthouse shouted insults and “assassin” at the Knox entourage as they walked in to hear the verdict.

The family said Knox will appeal the verdict.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., blasted the Italian legal system.

"I am saddened by the verdict and I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial," Cantwell said. "The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty."

"Italian jurors were not sequestered and were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Ms. Knox," Cantwell said. The senator also cited the "harsh" treatment of Knox after her arrest and "the negligent handling of evidence by investigators."

Seattle friends, relatives react
Relatives and friends in Seattle clasped hands as they watched TV and waited for the verdict. Her uncle, Mick Huff, cried, "Oh God, no" when it was announced.

Other friends buried their faces in their hands and shook their heads.

"They didn't listen to the facts of the case," said Elisabeth Huff, Knox's grandmother. "All they did was listen to the media's lies."

Madison Paxton, a friend of Knox's, said: "They're convicting a made-up person. They they're convicting 'foxy Knoxy.' That's not Amanda."

In a statement, the family said: "We are extremely disappointed in the verdict rendered today against our daughter. ... It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda's character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution's case against her."

'Fumes of drugs'
The prosecutors contend on the night of the murder, 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 that Knox joined the two men in brutally attacking and sexually assaulting the Briton under "the fumes of drugs and possibly alcohol."

Throughout the trial, prosecutors depicted Knox as a promiscuous and manipulative she-devil whose personality clashed with her roommate's. They say Knox had grown to hate Kercher.

During the trial, the most intimate details of Knox's life were examined, from her lax hygiene — allegedly a point of contention with Kercher — to her sex life, even including a sex toy.

Knox said Kercher was a friend whose slaying shocked and saddened her.

Defense lawyers have described the American, who made the dean's list at the University of Washington, as a smart and cheerful woman, at one point even comparing her to film character Amelie, the innocent and dreamy girl in the 2001 French movie of the same title.

That is the film Knox and Sollecito say they were watching at his home on the night of the murder, where they say they smoked marijuana and had sex. Knox said she went home the next morning to find the door to the house open and Kercher dead.

The prosecution maintains that a 6 1/2-inch knife authorities found at Sollecito's house could be the murder weapon; they say Kercher's DNA was found on the blade and Knox's on the handle. However, defense lawyers argue the knife was too big to match Kercher's wounds and the amount of DNA collected was too small to determine with certainty whose it was.

'Violence is purposeless'
The defense maintained there was not enough evidence for a conviction and no clear motive.

However, prosecutor Manuela Comodi said violent crimes can lack a motive. "We live at a time where violence is purposeless," she told the jury.

Knox gave contradictory versions of the night of the slaying, saying at one point she was home and had to cover her ears to block out Kercher's screams and accusing a Congolese man of the killing. The man, Patrick Diya Lumumba, owns a pub in Perugia where Knox worked. He was jailed briefly but was later cleared and is seeking defamation damages from Knox.

Knox later contended that police pressure led her to initially accuse an innocent man.