The mother of Meredith Kercher sat stoicly in the front of the courtroom today as Amanda Knox's family and supporters erupted into cheers and hugs when Knox was acquited of Kercher's murder.
The Kercher family, who earlier in the day professed its belief that Knox was involved in Meredith's death, remained behind in the courtroom long after the Knox family and its supporters poured into the streets in celebration. Arline Kercher was held upright by her daughter and attorney as she made her way through a crowd of reporters to a waiting vehicle.
The family later released a statement expressing its disappointment and confusion over the trial.
"We respect the decision of the judges. But we do not understand how the decision of the first trial could be so radically overturned. We still trust the Italian judicial system, and hope that the truth will eventually emerge," they said.
Earlier in the day, the family told reporters that the media attention surrounding Knox's appeal had overshadowed Meredith's grisly murder.
"What everyone needs to remember is the brutaility of what actually happened that night -- everything Meredith must have felt, the fear and the terror and not knowing why. She didn't deserve that, no one does. She'd been here for two months, and she loved this place," said Stephanie Kercher, Meredith's sister.
The family also criticized Knox family's use of the media to gain sympathy for its daughter, calling the family a "PR machine" against whom they had to battle to keep the memory of their beloved "Mez" alive.
"It's very difficult to talk about forgiveness at this time, with the [media] hype around the case. And the defendant is involved in that. The brutality of it has been forgotten," said Kercher's brother, Lyle.
Arline Kercher said before the verdict was announced that she hoped the evidence keeping Knox and Sollecito in prison would be upheld despite the media attention surrounding the case.
"What I want and what the Knoxes want doesn't come into play today," she said. "It's what the police have found, the science has found, the evidence, and that's all you can go on."
The Kerchers had stayed away from the nearly year-long trial in Perugia, Italy, until today, when they arrived to witness the appeals verdict.
When asked if they believed in the original guilty verdict, Stephanie Kercher said, "We were satisfied with the verdict. ... Nothing's changed."
Family of Meredith Kercher Not Willing to Forgive
Referring to the gruesome autopsy photos that were shown during the trial and appeal, the brother said, "If we had them all up here," he said pointing to the wall behind him, "you would find it hard to forgive someone who had done that to your loved one.
"I'm not sure we'll be looking for forgiveness for a while," he said.
The Kercher family, who traveled from its home in Great Britain, is wary about the current attention on Knox instead of Meredith Kercher.
Kercher, a student at the University of Leeds, was studying in Perugia for a year when she was killed. She had been sharing an apartment with Knox, an American student, and two Italian women. She was found partially nude and with her throat slit in her bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007.
A third person, Rudy Guede, 22, was also convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in her murder.
"Her death was unreal in many ways," said Arline Kercher, Meredith's mother, "and still is. I still look for her."
During her final statement to the court in pleading for her freedom today, Knox said Kercher was her friend, someone she "shared my life with. She cared for me."
Kercher's mother downplayed their friendship.
"I don't think they were that close. ... Amanda only got there in the beginning of October, and Meredith was murdered on the first of November," Arline Kercher said. "I think they were friendly but not that close."
The family shared memories of Meredith Kercher. "Mez was just a lovely girl. ... She was always there for everyone," Stephanie Kercher said.
Arline Kercher cited a line in a story she read about the murder, saying, "I think it happened to Meredith because she was all that they weren't."