"We are all in shock," Mellas said, her eyes welling with tears. "We told her she is going to get out of here, it's going to take a little longer. ... She's strong.
Knox's conviction and long sentence may have shocked her family but for some people who've followed the complex case, the outcome said more about the prosecutor and the media than the evidence.
"People here in this town [Perugia] have been reading these stories ... 'Sex Game Gone Wrong,' 'Drug Fueled Sex Game,'" said Nina Burleigh of Time magazine. "They believe that scenario is real, that it's true."
Much of the U.S. reaction to the case has focused on the lack of a clear motive for the crime and no forensic evidence linking Knox to the room where the murder occurred.
"A lot of people think that this verdict has a lot to do with the power of the prosecutor, the power of the police in this town and the fact that once this train started to roll ... the jury and the judge in this case were very leery of stopping it," Burleigh said.
The day after the court conviction, Kercher's family told an assembled media throng that they are relieved and satisfied by the guilty verdicts but not exultant.
"We're pleased that we got the decision but it's not a time for celebration," said Lyle Kercher, Meredith Kercher's brother. "[It is] not a moment of triumph.
"At the end of the day, we're gathered here because our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us," he added. "Of course, there were two very young people who have been sentenced [Friday] to a very long time behind bars."
As for Knox, the appeal process will be lengthy and expensive for her parents, who already have spent their life's savings on their daughter's defense.
ABC News' Jennifer Parker, George Stephanopoulos and Sonia Gallego in Perugia, Italy, contributed to this report.