ROME (AP) -- Italy's highest court on Friday overturned the murder conviction against Seattle's Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, bringing a definitive end to the high-profile case.
The decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito.
Knox , 27, of Seattle, was convicted in 2009 for the killing of Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with her in the Italian university town of Perugia. Her boyfriend at the time, Sollecito, was found guilty, too.
Since then, their cases have been a series of back-and-forths.
"I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy," Knox said in a written 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."
In an emotional appearance before cameras outside her mother's West Seattle home Friday night, Knox said, "I'm incredibly grateful for what has happened, for the justice I have received, for the support I have had from everyone. You saved my life."
Knox said she is still "absorbing" all the news. "I'm so grateful to have my life back," she said.
Asked what she would say to the Kercher family, Knox said, "Meredith was my friend. She deserved so much in this life."
Earlier, Knox's family and friends could be heard yelling 'freedom' inside the family's West Seattle home after she was acquitted by Italian judges. Sounds of cheers rang out at Knox's mother's house as news of the overturned verdict broke. Knox's friends and family could later be seen celebrating in the garden.
Both Knox, who was awaiting the verdict in her hometown of Seattle, and Sollecito have long maintained their innocence.
The supreme Court of Cassation on Friday overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court, and declined to order another trial.
The decision means the judges, after thoroughly examining the case, concluded that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence. Their reasoning will be released within 90 days.
After their initial convictions, both Knox and Sollecito were acquitted in 2011 on appeal, and Knox returned to the United States. Two years later, they were retried and their acquittals overturned. Knox was sentenced in absentia to 28 ½ years in prison. Her ex-boyfriend got 25 years.
When the Supreme Court rendered its verdict Friday, Knox was in Seattle.
In addition to her statement, the Knox family released this written statement:
"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."
The lawyer for Kercher's family, Francesco Maresca, has expressed his disappointment with the verdict.
"I think that it's a defeat for the Italian justice system," he told the Associated Press news agency.
Kercher's mother was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that she is "surprised and very shocked" by the acquittals.