PERUGIA, Italy >> One family’s judicial triumph has left another stunned and wondering who exactly murdered a daughter and sister who had only just arrived in Italy for a study abroad program.
Meredith Kercher’s brutal stabbing death on Nov. 1, 2007 left her family in shock and — four years later — still searching for answers after the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were overturned, allowing the two to walk free.
The Kerchers have also lamented the fact that the 21-year-old victim had fallen into oblivion, with Knox the center of worldwide media attention.
Lyle Kercher, the victim’s brother, told reporters on Tuesday that the family is still trying to understand how a decision that "was so certain two years ago has been so emphatically overturned." He was in the Italian courtroom with his mother Arline and sister Stephanie on Monday night when the appeals verdict was read out.
A third man has been convicted in the brutal slaying. However, the court at his trial concluded he did not act alone. Rudy Hermann Guede’s appeal upheld the guilty verdict, but cut his sentence from 30 years to 16.
"If the two released yesterday were not the guilty parties, we are obviously left to wonder who is the other guilty person or people? We are left back at square one," Lyle Kercher said.
The Kercher family has up to now rejected the defense notion that Guede acted alone. No other suspects have ever been named.
British tabloids summed up the feelings of the two families neatly: "Foxy’s free. Meredith family agony as Amanda cleared," the Daily Mirror read.
"Foxy" is the nickname that the British tabloids have given to Knox.
The Daily Mail pushed it even further: "Weeping Foxy is freed to make a fortune" — alleging that Knox would be paid by U.S. media to tell her life story.
The prosecutions case was blown apart by a DNA review that threw out key evidence used to convict Knox and Sollecito in 2009.
Prosecutors have said they will appeal the decision to Italy’s highest criminal court after receiving the reasoning behind the acquittals, due within 90 days.
Before the verdict, the Kerchers expressed hope the decision would be made based on the facts, and not on media hype that has surrounded the case. The three family members appeared dazed when the verdict was read out in court. Older sister Stephanie Kercher shed a tear and her mother Arline looked straight ahead.
"It was a bit of a shock," Stephanie Kercher said Tuesday. "It’s very upsetting … We still have no answers."
Meredith’s mother was still absorbing the reversal.
"You think you have come to a decision and obviously it has been overturned, I think it is early days really," she said.
Throughout the four-year ordeal, the Kerchers have maintained a low profile. They have granted few media interviews, rarely attended trial sessions and quietly remembered Meredith on the Nov. 1 anniversary of her death and on her Dec. 28 birthday.
The Kercher’s Italian lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said the contrast with the Knox’s active campaign to free their daughter may have been a factor in the acquittal.
"Definitely we had a David and Goliath situation," Maresca said. "In the sense that there was this enormous disproportion because the Kerchers never turned to the media."