FLORENCE, Italy Jan. 30, 2014— -- Amanda Knox was found guilty of murder today by an Italian court, the latest twist in a murder case that goes back to 2007.
The judge sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months in prison. Her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and co-defendant was sentenced to 25 years.
They were found guilty of the 2007 murder of her former roommate Meredith Kercher in a cottage they shared in Perugia, Italy.
Knox, who remained in her hometown of Seattle for the trial, watched the verdict with her family live on television.
"I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict," Knox said in a statement. "Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."
"My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution," she added.
Knox, 26, said in her statement that the tough verdict "is no consolation for the Kercher family" and said, "This has gotten out of hand."
She blamed her conviction on "overzealous and intransigent prosecution, prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory."
Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga said after the verdict, "We have not lost our courage. We respect this judgment. We will appeal"
Kercher's sister Stephanie and brother Lyle were in the courtroom for the verdict and listened to it with composure. Lyle Kercher later said, "No matter what the verdict is it is never going to be a matter of celebrating.... It is probably the best thing we could have hoped for."
Shortly before the verdict was reached Knox told the Guardian that if found guilty she hoped that the U.S. government would refuse to extradite her to Italy.
"I'm definitely not going back to Italy willingly. They'll have to catch me and pull me back kicking and screaming into a prison that I don't deserve to be in. I will fight for my innocence," she told the Guardian.
Knox spent four years in an Italian prison starting with her arrest in 2007 until an appeals court freed her in 2011.
The prison sentence was even stiffer than Knox's first sentence in 2009 when she was given a 26 year prison term.
The current prosecutor had asked for a 26 year prison term for the murder for Knox and Sollecito, plus another four years for Knox on a related slander conviction.
Knox, who was in the U.S., could not be re-arrested. Authorities said Sollecito, 29, also would not be immediately arrested, but would confiscate his passport so that he could not leave the country.
Two Italian judges and six jurors began deliberations about 10 a.m. today and emerged at 4 p.m. ET to announce their conclusion.
This is the fourth time Knox faced a verdict on Kercher's murder. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009. After serving four years in prison they were freed in 2011 when an appeals court threw out the murder conviction. But Italy's supreme court ordered another appeals court to rehear the case.
Knox, who is sporting a new, short haircut, remained in her hometown of Seattle for the latest trial. Sollecito was in court today earlier today, but was not present for the verdict.
On the day the deliberations began, an Italian journalist who is writing a book about the murder wrote that Knox has given him a letter addressed to the Kercher family to be given to the Kerchers if they are willing to accept it.
Roberto Costantini wrote in Corriere della Sera today that he spoke with Meredith Kercher's sister Stephanie several days ago about the letter.
He quoted Stephanie Kercher replying to the offer of the letter, "I will have to think. I don't know, but today I don't want to read it because I do not feel the need to speak with her now."