A jury in Perugia, Italy has overturned the murder conviction of U.S. college student Amanda Knox and ordered her freed from prison.
Knox collapsed in tears and the courtroom erupted Monday evening when the decision was read. Knox's former Italian boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, also was exonerated and freed from prison.
Knox was appealing her 26-year prison sentence on charges of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007 during what prosecutors called a drug-fueled sex game that turned violent. Before the verdict was read, the defendant struggled to hold back tears as she told the jury that she did not kill, rape or steal. She insisted she was watching a movie at Sollecito's house when Kercher was killed.
Prosecutors called Knox a witch and a she-devil whose innocent looks hid a life of sex, drugs and drinking.
But court-appointed independent forensic experts said the DNA used to convict Knox was unreliable and possibly contaminated by police. Knox's lawyers also said the prosecution could not show any clear motive or evidence linking her to the murder.
Knox likely will return home with her family to Seattle, Washington.
A third suspect, former drug dealer Rudy Guede, was given a 30-year prison sentence. He also has pleaded innocent but was not part of Monday's jury decision.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.