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American student convicted in Italy slaying to appeal conviction

Knox tired, upset on 1st night in prison after trial

By Alessandra Rizzo
Associated Press / December 6, 2009

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PERUGIA, Italy - Amanda Knox sought comfort from visiting family members yesterday 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. It was not a time to celebrate, however, they said.

Knox, a college student from Seattle, was tired and upset after the midnight verdict and sentence of 26 years in prison, according to family members and a lawyer who saw her. Knox plans to appeal the verdict, as does her codefendant and former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

“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 going to get out of here.’’

The Knox and Kercher’s families came to this central Italian town for the verdict, which was announced after 13 hours of deliberations. The court also convicted Sollecito and gave him a 25-year prison term.

“She couldn’t sleep all night,’’ said lawyer Luciano Ghirga, who spent an hour with Knox at her jail yesterday morning. “She’s worried for her parents, too, but she is keeping the faith needed for the next steps.’’

Kercher, 21, was Knox’s roommate while they studied in Perugia. Kercher’s body was found with a slit throat 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,’’ said John Kercher Jr., one of her brothers.

Kercher’s sister, Stephanie, said the verdict “does bring a little bit of justice, for us and for her.’’ Prosecutors said they would not seek to appeal, even though the court did not grant their request for life imprisonment.

Knox’s family has long contended that the prosecution’s case largely rested on character assassination.

The prosecutors say that 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. He is appealing the verdict.