Italy's highest court of appeals handed down their decision this week

By Elizabeth Leonard
March 27, 2015 06:00 PM
Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Getty

Italy’s highest appeals court overturned the conviction of Seattle native Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito on Friday for the 2007 murder of Knox’s roommate, British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Knox expressed her gratitude to those who supported her and believed in her innocence.

“I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy,” she said. “The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me.

“I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.”

Knox’s family also released a statement following the court’s decision.

“We want to express our profound gratitude to all those who have supported Amanda and our family,” they said in the statement. “Countless people – from world-renowned DNA experts, to former FBI agents, to everyday citizens committed to justice – have spoken about her innocence.

“We are thrilled with and grateful for today’s decision from the Supreme Court of Italy. And we are grateful beyond measure for all that so many of you have done for her.”

This twist is but the latest in the case’s convoluted eight-year legal odyssey through the Italian judicial system.

In 2009, Knox, now 27, and Sollecito, 31, were found guilty of Kercher’s murder in Perugia, Italy, and served four years in prison before the convictions were overturned on appeal in 2011.

Then, in a surprise turn, Italy’s supreme court vacated the acquittals and early last year, a Florence court reinstated the guilty verdicts. Knox and Sollecito were sentenced to 28 years and 25 years, respectively.

At the time, Knox called the appeals court’s ruling “unjust” and said in a statement, “Clearly a wrongful conviction is horrific for the wrongfully accused, but it is also terribly bad for the victim, their surviving family, and society.”

Knox, who graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing last year, has tried hard to pick up the pieces of her life in Seattle. She works as a freelance journalist and editor and recently became engaged to musician Colin Sutherland, whom she knew since middle school.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in 2013 about her best-selling memoir, Waiting to Be Heard, Knox detailed her horrific experiences behind bars and the overwhelming joy of being set free. However, even after she returned home, she told PEOPLE, “Things creep up on me and all of a sudden I’m overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness and that desperation and fear to even hope.”

RELATED: Amanda Knox Speaks: ‘I’m So Grateful to Have My Life Back

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