Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Freed in Italian Murder Appeal

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PERUGIA, ITALY - OCTOBER 03:  Amanda Knox is escorted to her appeal hearing at Perugia's Court of Appeal on October 3, 2011 in Perugia, Italy. American student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of killing their British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in 2007. The jury in their appeal is expected to retire to consider their verdict later today. They have served nearly four years in jail after being sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
PERUGIA, ITALY - OCTOBER 03: Amanda Knox is escorted to her appeal hearing at Perugia's Court of Appeal on October 3, 2011 in Perugia, Italy. American student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of killing their British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in 2007. The jury in their appeal is expected to retire to consider their verdict later today. They have served nearly four years in jail after being sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) Photo: Oli Scarff/2011 Getty Images

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found not guilty today in Perugia, Italy, in the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox's 21-year-old roommate at the time her death in November 2007. A guilty verdict was upheld today for the charge of slander, which carries a three-year sentence, but based on the nearly four years already served, the pair will be free effective immediately. Knox and Sollecito, who were dating when the crime occurred, were found guilty of murder and sexual violence in 2009. Knox, now 24, was sentenced to 26 years in Italian prison, while Sollecito was given 25. (In a separate trial, Rudy Guede was also convicted of the murder and sentenced to 30 years.) The appeal included twenty hearings over the course of ten months, beginning on November 24, 2010. Earlier today Knox pleaded through tears in fluent Italian for her freedom: "I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there," she said in her personal statement. "I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished. I don't want my life and my future to be taken away for something I didn't do because I am innocent." Prosecutors are expected to appeal the new ruling.

"We're thankful that Amanda's nightmare is over," Knox's sister said in a brief press conference immediately after the new verdict was read. "We now respectfully ask that you give Amanda and our family the privacy we need to recover from this horrible ordeal."

Here's video of the ruling:

This post has been updated with additional information.

Previously: Amanda Knox Found Guilty [NYM]
Amanda Knox arrives in court for Kercher appeal verdict [BBC]
Tearful Amanda Knox pleads for freedom [Reuters]
Related: Perugia's Prime Suspect [VF]