48 Hours: American Girl, Italian Murder

The Crime. The Outrage. The Jury's Finding; Peter Van Sant's In-Depth Report on the Amanda Knox Case

Produced by Douglas Longhini, James Stolz, Josh Gelman Sara Ely Hulse, Sabina Castelfranco and Chris Young

The Perugia murder trial of American student Amanda Knox has come to an end, Knox has been found guilty on all counts.

Knox was on trial for the Nov. 2007 murder of her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, who was found in her bedroom, semi-naked with her throat slashed. Within days, Knox, who was enrolled for six months of study at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy, became a suspect in what prosecutor Giuliano Mignini described as a drug-induced sex orgy gone wrong.

After a 14-hour police interrogation, Knox told authorities that she and a local bar owner went to the apartment that night and the bar owner had sex with Kercher then murdered her. Her story later proved untrue. She claimed in court that she made the false confession out of fear after Italian authorities threatened her and even got physical with her.

Knox's story has spread around the world. And while Meredith Kercher's death was a violent tragedy, skepticism has surrounded the case against Amanda Knox, the conclusion of which will likely continue to spark debate about what really happened. Correspondent Peter Van Sant examines the case from the crime to the conclusion.

After a sleepless night, the distraught family of convicted murderer Amanda Knox had their first chance to console her inside her prison home where she may spend the next quarter century of her life.

"Amanda, like the rest of us, is extremely disappointed. Upset about the decision. We are all in shock… We told her she was going to get out of here," Amanda's mother, Edda Mellas, told reporters. "It's just going to take us longer…"

While the Knox family believes a horrible injustice has been done, the family of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, the victim in this case, is relieved.

"It's not ever going to be the same without Mez," her sister, Stephanie Kercher tells reporters. "She's still a very a big part of our lives and she always will be."

Amanda's father, Curt Knox, is thinking of Meredith as well.

"Wherever Meredith is, I believe that she knows that Amanda and Raffaele had nothing to do with it," he says tearing up.

But on Dec. 5, 2009, after an 11-month trial and almost 11 hours of jury deliberations, they convicted Amanda and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

"The court declares Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of the crimes they are accused of."

"You know, when I saw Amanda kind of start lowering her heard and start slumping - then I knew it was bad. And frankly, I just went into anger mode," said Curt Knox.

Outside the courthouse, a small cheer went through the crowd as the verdicts were announced. Amanda was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Raffaele to 25.

"I went into shock. I was uncontrollably shaking and crying and had to sit down," Amanda's little sister, Deanna said. "All we could do when she was leaving was yell across the room, 'We love you Amanda.'"

British journalist Nick Pisa was in the courtroom.

"I think as the full impact of the verdict dawned on her, she began to sob uncontrollably," Pisa explains. "She was then led away and in the annex adjacent to the court we heard her shriek out, 'No!'"

"We heard her wail as she went out the door. It was not good," says Curt Knox.

The Knox family feels the Italian system of justice is flawed. Juries are never sequestered during trial. In this case, allowing them total access to sensational tabloid stories that painted Amanda as a satanic killer.

"Literally, we're all fighting mad," says Curt Knox.

Amanda's troubles began innocently enough on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007, when police found two cells phones that belonged to Meredith and brought the phones back to the house Meredith and Amanda shared.

"They found Raffaele and Amanda there in a worried and disturbed state," Pisa explains.

Amanda says she had been trying unsuccessfully to reach Meredith all morning and was worried.

"Meredith's bedroom door is locked," Pisa continues. "And the door is broken down and inside is Meredith's lifeless body."

Meredith, 21, is found lying in a pool of blood.

"There were 47 separate wounds - not 47 knife wounds, but 47 bruises, scratches, cuts, injuries on Meredith's body," Pisa explains. "There was evidence, definitely, that she was, quite literally, fighting for her life."

The murder shocked the medieval hill town of Perugia, which is a center for foreign students. Pisa says that Meredith could not have been a more innocent victim.

"She'd fallen in love with Italy. So that's basically why this girl from South London, the youngest of four children, decided to come and study in Perugia," he explains.

On Nov. 1, the night of the murder, Amanda was supposed to work at a bar called Le Chic, but her boss, Patrick Lumumba, told her not to come in. Amanda says she spent the night with her boyfriend, Raffaele, at his apartment. Meredith went to a friend's for dinner.

"The next thing we know is Meredith left her friend's apartment, she walked back to her house around 8:30, 9:00ish. And that's the last time we know she was alive," says Pisa.

Since Amanda and Raffaele were at the house when Meredith's body was discovered, the two immediately became important witnesses.

"She said they had a lot of questions for her because she was the first one that had come back to the house. And she wanted to help," Mellas says. "She wanted to try and remember anything."

Investigators asked the couple to come back to the house the following day.

"We saw these two youngsters embrace, caressing each other, kissing - whispering into each other's ears and the impression was of complicity," says Italian investigator and "48 Hours" consultant Paulo Sfriso, who describes the sight captured on video as unsettling.

"One's expectation would be for them to be in shock, in tears," Sfriso says. "Instead, they seem to be sharing a little secret between the two of them."

Then, four days after the murder, Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini brought Raffaele and Amanda in for questioning.

Early on in the investigation, Amanda described to an Italian judge what happened to her that night.

"I was very tired and I was also quiet stressed out. They kept asking me the same questions... At a certain point… the police began to be more aggressive with me."

Amanda repeatedly told police that she was with Raffaele in his apartment on the night of the murder.

"They called me a liar," she said. "Then they started pushing on me the idea that I must have seen something and forgotten about it."

Police confronted Amanda with a text message she had sent her boss, Patrick Lumumba, the night Meredith was killed. Her message: "See you later."

Police believed the message implied Amanda was planning to meet Lumumba back at her house.

"They kept saying, 'You sent this thing to Patrick. We know that you left the house. We know.'"

Amanda claims the aggressive questioning turned physical.

"I was hit in the back of the head by one of the police officers who said she was trying to make me - help me remember the truth."

Listen to Amanda's full statement | Read her statement

The truth that night, after 14 hours of interrogation, changed. Amanda signed a statement prepared by police: "I met Patrick…we went to my apartment. Patrick had sex with Meredith. I confusedly remember that he killed her."

Within hours, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox were arrested. But no one would have guessed then just how long it would take this legal nightmare to unfold - and how painful it would be.

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