SEATTLE (AP) — Since Amanda Knox was acquitted of murder in Italy, she has tried to return to the life she knew before becoming an international media sensation.
But her effort to keep a low profile as a college student in her hometown of Seattle was upended Tuesday, when Italy's highest criminal court overturned her acquittal in the slaying of British student Meredith Kercher and ordered a new trial.
Knox said it was "painful" news after the trial showed the prosecution case was unfounded and unfair.
"My family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity," the 25-year-old said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new trial, and family spokesman David Marriott said it's "very doubtful" that Knox will make the trip.
Instead, she will continue to attend the University of Washington, where she is a junior, he said. No public appearances were immediately planned.
Candace Dempsey, a Seattle journalist and author of "Murder in Italy," a book about Knox, was stunned by the Italian high court decision.
"Of course it's an absolute nightmare for her and her family," said Dempsey, who has talked with Knox since she returned to Seattle in late 2011. "I think we're seeing who she really is — that she's not the drug-crazed, sex-hungry American girl that the prosecutors have fantasized."
Italian prosecutors had said Knox and Sollecito killed Kercher in a drug-fueled sex assault involving a third man. They maintained the murder weapon was a large knife taken from Sollecito's house. Prosecutors said the knife matched the wounds on Kercher's body and had traces of Kercher's DNA on the blade and Knox's DNA on the handle.
However, Knox's defenders said she was innocent, caught up in the complexities of the Italian judicial system and forced to say things she didn't mean during a lengthy police interrogation. And they said bumbling Italian police contaminated the crime scene, producing flawed DNA evidence.
Knox served four years in an Italian prison before an appeals court threw out her conviction in October 2011.
Knox has since largely avoided the public spotlight and is mostly left alone in her Pacific Northwest hometown known for its rain, stunning water and mountain views, and polite but restrained residents.
John Lange, Knox's high school drama teacher, said he saw her last summer and she seemed good.