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Amanda Knox to be home by Christmas?

The fate of Amanda Knox, the Seattle college student convicted of murder in Italy, may soon change course with a new twist in the case.

On Wednesday, Knox won a key battle in her appeal to overturn her conviction after an independent panel ruled that much of the DNA evidence used to convict Knox could be contaminated, CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller reports.

It was Knox's biggest victory since she first walked into the Perugia courtroom over two years ago.

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A report by an independent review panel said that the methods used to collect the DNA evidence that eventually convicted the former exchange student were not up to international standards.

"Now that we are hearing that there is contamination and that whatever DNA that is on that knife has not been evaluated properly, they have to throw that item out from evidence," John Jay College forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky told CBS News.

In the 145-page report, experts say DNA samples obtained from the blade are "unreliable" and that samples from the bra clasp collected more than six weeks after the murder could have been "contaminated."

In the first trial, initial tests found victim Meredith Kercher's DNA on the knife blade, and Knox's DNA on the handle, and DNA from co-defendant and former Knox boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito on Kercher's bra clasp -- the defense argued that the knife was not the murder weapon and that the bra evidence was tainted.

"Because this is a case with no motive and no witnesses, the DNA evidence is extremely important. If the DNA evidence is out, Amanda Knox could be free," adds CBS News Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom.

But not everything has been going in Knox's favor. Earlier this week, Rudy Guede who is serving a 16 year sentence for his role in Kerchers' murder, testified that Knox and Sollecito were responsible for the killing, something Knox's mother insists isn't true.

"I wish he would develop some integrity and tell the truth and the truth is that Amanda wasn't there," said Edda Mellas, Knox's mother.

With the DNA evidence all-but discredited, Knox's defense team is confident the 24-year-old will be home in time for Christmas, Miller says.

CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford concurs with the findings and shares the legal implications that this tainted evidence has on the case with "Early Show" Rebecca Jarvis:

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