Amanda Knox Amanda Knox

An Italian appeals court overturned Amanda Knox's murder conviction Monday, exonerating her in the slaying of her British roommate.

Knox — whose case had been dramatized in the Lifetime movie Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy, starring Hayden Panettiere — collapsed in tears during the reading of the decision and had to be helped out of the courtroom. She was, however, found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay a fine, as pandemonium reigned outside the courthouse afterward.

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Earlier in the day, Knox made her case — in Italian — to the six members of the jury and two judges, speaking for 10 minutes. "I've lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible," she said of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British woman who shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. "I'm paying with my life for things that I didn't do."

The verdict was carried live by various broadcast and cable news channels worldwide.

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Knox, 24, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. A third person, Rudy Hermann Guede, was convicted separately. Sollecito also was freed Monday; Guede's guilty verdict was upheld upon appeal, but his sentence was reduced from 30 to 16 years.

"I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn't there. I wasn't there at the crime," Knox said in pleading her case Monday.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that her family, who is from Seattle, had a plane waiting in Italy to fly her home.