(Photo: Reuters/Anthony Bolante)
Former exchange student Amanda Knox and her British ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were both convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher for the second time by an Italian appeals court Thursday night.
Prosecutors said Knox, 26 and Sollecito, 29, killed Kercher in November 2007. Knox who now lives in Seattle, Wash., was sentenced to 28 ½ years in prison while Sollecito was slapped with a 25-year prison sentence, according to CNN.
The couple was first convicted of killing Kercher in 2009 after she was discovered with more than 40 stab wounds and a deep gash in her throat. The charges, however, were overturned in 2011 on appeal.
Prosecutors had argued that Kercher, a British exchange student in Italy and 21 at the time of her death, was held down and stabbed after she refused to participate in a sex game with Knox, Sollecito and another man, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede. She was found partially naked in a pool of blood in the house she shared with Knox in the town of Perugia. Guede is the only one currently in prison for the murder while many aspects of the case remain a mystery.
A legal expert told CNN that it is unlikely that Knox, who already spent four years in an Italian prison for the crime, is unlikely to return to Italy to serve any additional time because the U.S. prevents a person from being tried for the same charge twice. The expert says the U.S. would likely deny any extradition request from Italy as a result of that law.
"She was once put in jeopardy and later acquitted," Sean Casey, a former prosecutor who is now a partner at Kobre & Kim in New York explained. "Under the treaty, extradition should not be granted."
The presiding judge in the case, Alessandro Nencini, has 90 days to write his arguments explaining the ruling and once that is done lawyers will have another 90 days to appeal.
Asked this month by Italian daily La Repubblica what she would do if she was found guilty in a second trial, Knox replied: "I will become ... a fugitive."
Italy's Supreme Court overturned Knox and Sollecito's acquittals because the jury did not consider all the evidence. The court also cited that there were discrepancies in the testimonies that needed to be answered.
The retrial began in Florence in September and prompted questions about Italy's justice system. In a written statement to the Florence court, Knox maintained her innocence.
"I must repeat to you. I'm innocent. I did not rape, I did not steal ... I did not kill Meredith," Knox said in a lengthy e-mail presented by her lawyer to the court in December.