ROME - Italy's highest court on Friday overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend in the 2007 slaying of Knox's roommate, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case that captivated trial-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic.
"Finished!" Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. "It couldn't be better than this."
In a rare decision, the supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court and declined to order another trial. The judges declared that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding that there wasn't enough evidence to convict.
In a statement issued from her home in Seattle, Knox said she was "relieved and grateful" for the decision.
"The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal," she said, thanking her supporters for believing in her.
Experts have said such a complete exoneration is unusual for the high court, which could have upheld the conviction or ordered a new trial as it did in 2013 when the case first came up to its review on appeal.
The justices' reasoning will be released within 90 days.
The decision ends the long legal battle waged by Knox and Italian codefendant Raffaele Sollecito to clear their names in the death of British student Meredith Kercher, after they spent nearly four years in prison immediately after the murder only to be freed when they were first acquitted in 2011.
The case aroused strong interest in three countries for its explosive mix of young love, murder, and flip-flop decisions by Italian courts.
Kercher, 21, was found dead Nov. 2, 2007, in the apartment that she shared with Knox and two other students. Her throat was slashed, and she had been sexually assaulted.
Knox and Sollecito were arrested a few days after Kercher's death. Eventually, another man, Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast, was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence.