Amanda Knox has been found innocent of the murder of Meredith Kercher.
Raffaele Sollecito was also acquitted of the same crime.
The verdict was delivered one-and-a-half hours after the promised 8 p.m. deadline, an indication that the jury did not have an easy time with the decision.
Knox gave what would later become her final address to the court ever earlier in the day Monday, saying again that she didn't kill Kercher. In the passionate and emotional speech, Knox said that she wants to find justice over her friend's murder as much as anyone, but that the last four years have changed her forever.
I didn't rape. I didn't steal. I was not there, she said in Italian. We had a good relationship. We were all available to each other. I shared my life, especially with Meredith. We had a friendship. We were friends. She was concerned for me. She was always kind to me. She cared about me.
Earlier in the day, Kercher's family spoke to the media in Perugia while jurors deliberated. The British student's family said that no matter the final verdict, they were not ready to forgive Knox.
We were satisfied with the verdict. … Nothing's changed, Kercher's sister Stephanie Kercher told reporters.
Knox and Sollecito arrived in court around 8:30 p.m. local time. Rumors around that time surfaced that the Knox family had been told of the verdict about an hour ahead of time. If that was true, they did a commendable job hiding their emotions.
The two students were convicted of murder in 2009, and the 10-month long appeals trial that ended Monday was the first of two possible appeals granted by Italian law. In the original case, police used DNA evidence, a lack of an alibi and an eyewitness report to convict the two students, but much of that evidence was put into question during the appeal.
Independent, court-appointed experts concluded in June that the DNA evidence was inconclusive at best, and could have been tainted during the initial police investigation. DNA from a bra clasp found six weeks after Kercher's murder was an important piece of evidence in the first trial, but the La Sapienza University experts deemed that the DNA traces were too negligible to be retested.
The murder weapon has also been called into question and the knife found in Sollecito's apartment, which had Knox's DNA on it, did not match two of three wounds on Kercher's body.
Additionally, the only person who testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito at the apartment on the night of the murder turned out to be a heroin addict who confused many details of the incident when questioned.
But some of the proceedings countered the evidential gains for Knox and Sollecito, and prosecutors brought to light a number of inconsistencies in Knox's initial testimonies in 2007.
Knox changed her story more than once, claiming first that she was home and heard Kercher scream, then later said she was at her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito's apartment doing drugs and having sex. However, Sollecito once told police that he couldn't remember if Knox was there or not and both of their cell phones were shut off at the time of the murder.
Before she was brought to court to hear the verdict on Monday, Knox was playing guitar and singing to relax herself in her cell at Capanne Prison. The prison chaplain said she was composed and collected, showing a remarkable self-control, but on the inside she must have been sick with worry.
Knox is surely thrilled by the verdict, but the one thing that can't be taken away, after four long years, is Knox's resolve.
It was said many times that I'm a different person from the way I look. And that people cannot figure out who I am, Knox said during her appeal. I'm the same person I was four years ago. I've always been the same.