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Judge in Amanda Knox case says he agrees with guilty verdict

Fabrizio Giovannozzi / AP

Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini, center, reads the verdict for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Florence, Italy, on Thursday.

The judge who presided over Amanda Knox's second murder conviction says he suffered over the verdict but that he and the jury agreed about her guilt in the death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Judge Alessandro Nencini said he agreed to be interviewed by Corriere della Sera for Saturday's editions because he knew the sentence would create a media storm.

Nencini says the jury had come up with a motive that will be made clear in a written explanation of the verdict, expected within three months. But he hinted at the conclusion, saying that up until 8:15 p.m. on the night of the murder, Knox and her now ex-boyfriend had other plans, but that something changed.

He told Corriere: "If Amanda had gone to work, probably we wouldn't be here."

Nencini also suggested that the decision of Knox's ex-boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, not to testify may have worked against him.

"It's the defendant's right, but it certainly deprived the process of a voice," Nencini was quoted as saying. "He limited himself to spontaneous declarations. He said only what he wanted to say without letting himself be cross-examined." Knox did not appear at the trial, but sent a letter to the court saying she feared wrongful conviction.

The case has been top international news since Kercher was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, in the apartment Knox and Kercher shared in the university town of Perugia.

As the case has moved through Italy's court system, prosecutors have offered differing explanations for Kercher's killing, asserting in the first trial that Kercher was killed when an erotic game went awry and in the latest trial saying the violence was rooted in a longstanding disagreement over cleanliness. Both Sollecito and Knox deny involvement.

Nenci, another judge and six lay jurors reinstated the guilty verdicts on Thursday against Knox and Sollecito that were first handed down in 2009, sentencing Knox to 28 ½ years and Sollecito to 25 years for the murder. An appeals court had acquitted the pair in 2011 and ordered them freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court threw out the acquittals and ordered a third trial, in Florence.

Lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito have said they would appeal, saying there was no proof that the two had committed the crime. Knox has said she will never willingly return to Italy to serve any sentence if the verdict is upheld.

Nencini said the court worked long and hard to process what he called a "half-room" worth of documentation in these months. Asked if the final verdict was unanimous after 12 hours of deliberations, Nencini hedged, saying it was a "shared" decision.

"I can say that in all these months, and in particular in the last meeting, we sensed the gravity of a sentence against young people and entire families," he was quoted as saying. "This is something that has affected many lives."

"I feel liberated because the moment of the decision is the most difficult," he was quoted as saying. "I also have children, and inflicting a sentence of 25 and 28 years on two young people is emotionally very tough."

A third person, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence. 

Related: Why John Kerry may send Amanda Knox back to Italy if she loses appeal