Italy's highest court on Friday overturned Amanda Knox's murder conviction, ending the Seattle resident's long legal battle for exoneration.
The Court of Cassation also overturned the conviction of Knox's former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
"I'm incredibly grateful for what has happened, for the justice that I've received, for the support that I've had from everyone," Knox told supporters and reporters outside her mother's West Seattle home Friday night. "You saved my life and I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful to have my life back."
As she turned to go back inside, she was asked a question about the victim in the case, Meredith Kercher, who was found stabbed to death in 2007 in the apartment they shared while studying in Perugia, Italy.
"Meredith was my friend and ... she deserved so much in this life," Knox responded. "I'm the lucky one."
The Associated Press said the Italian court's ruling was final, with the judges declining to order a new trial and declaring Knox and Sollecito didn't commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than finding that there wasn't enough evidence to convict.
Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted, "Finished!" after the decision was read, the AP reported. "It couldn't be better than this."
The case dates back nearly eight years to Perugia, Italy. Knox, then a University of Washington student, was studying abroad there, sharing an apartment with Kercher, a 21-year-old British student.
On the evening of Nov. 1, 2007, Kercher was stabbed and slashed to death in her bedroom.
Knox and Sollecito, who had been her boyfriend for about a week, were arrested, tried and, in 2009, convicted of murder.
A man from Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, was arrested separately and convicted of murder; he is serving a 16-year sentence.
After a lengthy appeals process, an Italian court reviewed the case in 2011 and acquitted Knox and Sollecito. That’s when Knox returned to Seattle.
But the saga continued when the Court of Cassation vacated the ruling and sent it back to a Florence appeals court. Under the Italian justice system, both the prosecution and defense can appeal a decision.
The court in Florence reviewed the case and found Knox and Sollecito guilty in 2014. That court sentenced Knox to 28.5 years in prison -- two more years than her original conviction.
Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, overturned that conviction Friday.
The high court on Friday upheld a slander conviction against Knox involving an accusation that another man committed the murder, but she already served the three-year sentence, the AP reported.
British authorities and media intently followed the sensational case, involving the savage murder of a UK citizen. The Guardian reported that Meredith Kercher's mother, Arline, said she was “surprised and very shocked” that the convictions were overturned.
Immediately after the decision, Knox released a statement, saying "the knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal."
Knox's complete statement:
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 through a representative, Bob Barnett, based in Washington D.C.
We want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda and our family. 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.