FLORENCE, Italy — Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend were convicted Thursday for a second time in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with Knox in the university town of Perugia, where both women were exchange students. The presiding judge in the Florence court sentenced Knox to 28 1/2 years in prison and the boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, to 25 years.
In so ruling, the court upheld a 2009 conviction for the murder. Knox, now 26, and Sollecito, 29, spent four years in prison before an appellate court in Perugia acquitted them in 2011, but the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest court, overturned that ruling last year, sending the case back to the appellate court in Florence.
Both defendants staunchly maintain their innocence.
The courtroom fell still as the presiding judge, Alessandro Nencini, read the sentences 11 1/2 hours after the jury, consisting of two judges and six lay jurors, began its deliberations.
Sollecito attended many of the hearings with his father, but neither he nor his family was present when the verdict was read.
Knox did not return to Italy because she feared being wrongly incarcerated again, she said last week in her hometown, Seattle.
Expressing her "respect and support" for the grief of the Kercher family, Knox said in a statement issued Thursday that she was "frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict," and had "expected better from the Italian justice system," which continued to subject her to "wrongful persecution."
Defense lawyers vowed to appeal the latest conviction with the Court of Cassation.
The Italian authorities would have to extradite Knox from the U.S. for her to begin serving her sentence, but that possibility will arise only when her sentence is definitive.