ROME -- Italy's highest court has ordered American Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito to face a retrial for the 2007 killing of British student Meredith Kercher.
The Supreme Court overturned the pair's acquittal and ordered an appeals court in Florence re-hear the high-profile case that led to Knox and Sollecito spending four years in jail before being freed in October 2011. A lack of DNA evidence prompted the case to be overturned.
On Monday, Knox was reported by her lawyer to be "very anxious" about the prospect of a retrial. And immediately following the announcement, Knox issued a statement through a family spokesman that said it was "painful" to have the acquittal overturned but that she was "confident" about the truth.
"No matter what happens, 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," Knox said in the statement.
Kercher's family attorney, Francesco Maresca, said after Tuesday's ruling: "Yes, this is what we wanted."
Sollecito's attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, noted that Tuesday's ruling was not a determination of guilt but merely a need for further study of the appeals court ruling.
Reaction from Italy was mixed, befitting a case that captivated people from the U.S., the United Kingdom and Italy.
Enrico Campione, 50, an art restorer from Rome, said: "The poor girl. I don't know if she's innocent or guilty, but they had two trials already and they should know that. If she's guilty she should be punished, of course. But I feel bad for her that she can't put his behind her."
Sabina De Tomaso, 29, a restaurant worker, said: "I had a feeling she was guilty before and she got off because she had expensive lawyers and they found technical problems. I hope they will find the truth now."
Kercher's body was found in November 2007 in her bedroom of the house she shared with Knox and other roommates in Perugia, an Italian university town where the two women were exchange students. Her throat had been slashed.
Prosecutors argued that Kercher, from south London, was murdered as a result of a sex game that went amiss.
An Ivory Coast man, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the slaying in a separate proceeding and is serving a 16-year sentence.
Legal experts will now be looking to gauge the likelihood of Knox, who lives in Seattle, being extradited to Italy to stand trial.
Giorgio Spangher, head of the law school at Rome's Sapienza University, said that the case hasn't actually been reopened. Instead, the 2011 appeal that acquitted Knox and Sollecito was annulled.
He said that Knox cannot be compelled to come back to Italy but can choose to do so voluntarily. If she's convicted in absentia Italy can request her extradition.
"We have to wait and see what she decides to do, but if she were my client I would not advise her to return for this case," said Spangher.
Eric J. Lyman and Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard reported from London; Associated Press