Amanda Knox Faces Murder, Sex Assault Trial

Amanda Knox and her former lover, Raffaele Sollecito, were ordered to stand trial today on charges of murder and sexual violence in the killing of British student Meredith Kercher, and a third defendant was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Knox, a 21-year-old student from Seattle, and Sollecito have both spent nearly a year in jail as Italian police investigated the killing, a case that shocked Italy.

Kercher was found seminaked with her throat cut, lying in a pool of blood at her Perugia home the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. Prosecutors have alleged that the three suspects were angered that she had rebuffed their sexual advances.

Knox and Sollecito, who were lovers at the time of Kercher's slaying, have both maintained they are innocent.

A picture of Amanda Knox.Play

Judge Paolo Micheli was expected to decide Wednesday whether the two must remain in prison or will be allowed house arrest during their trial. The first hearing in the trial was scheduled for Dec. 4.

"This is a terrible moment for me. I feel awful. I'm not a killer," Knox wrote in a note to her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

After the hearing Ghirga said Knox "was quite disappointed."

"She is ready to start again," Ghirga said. "The (first) hearing is very close, we have to reorganize our defense line in time."

The third suspect, Rudy Guede, had asked to have his case separated from that of Knox and Sollecito, and sought a fast-track trial in which the judge in the preliminary hearing delivers a verdict based on the evidence presented by prosecutors and the defense.

Prosecutors allege that Knox stabbed Kercher in the throat, while Sollecito and Guede held her down and Guede tried to sexually assault her.

Guede, a 21-year-old Ivory Coast citizen, had admitted to being in the house the night Kercher was killed but like the other two denied sexually assaulting and murdering the British woman.

After the judge announced his decision, the Kercher's family lawyer said, "Italian justice has paid the tribute of truth to poor Meredith," according to Reuters.

Knox's parents had said before the judge announced his decision that they were hopeful that their daughter would be released.

"We have hope, but we're trying to suppress it so hurt doesn't come," Curt Knox told ABC News in Perugia.

"We are hopeful that the judge will see the light and release Amanda, but we understand that the Italian legal system is different from the States'," Curt Knox said.

"She's been in jail for a year, and she doesn't even know why," Amanda's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, told The Associated Press. Italian law allows for suspects in serious crimes to be jailed before indictment if they are considered a flight risk.

Although the Knoxes were not allowed to see their daughter because the hearing was closed, they said they heard from her lawyer that she was "fairly upbeat and hopeful of a positive outcome."'s Dean Schabner contributed to this report.