FLORENCE, Italy -- An appeals court in Florence on Thursday upheld the guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition if the conviction is upheld.
Lawyers for Knox and her co-defendant Raphael Sollecito vowed to appeal to Italy's highest court, a process that will take at least another year, dragging out a legal saga that has divided court-watchers in three nations.
In a statement from Seattle, where she had awaited the verdict, Knox said she was "frightened and saddened" by the decision, which she said was unjust and the result of an overzealous prosecution and narrow-minded investigation.
"This has gotten out of hand," she said. "Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."
After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court reinstated the guilty verdicts first handed down against Knox and Sollecito in 2009 for the death of Meredith Kercher. Those verdicts had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.
Knox's attorney, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said he had called Knox by telephone and informed her that the Florence court had not only confirmed the guilty verdict, but had increased the sentence from the original 26 years.
"She was petrified. Silent," he said.
Sollecito was in court Thursday morning, but he didn't return for the verdict.
Sollecito's lawyers said they were stunned by the conviction and Sollecito's 25-year sentence and would appeal.
"There isn't a shred of proof," attorney Luca Maori said.