Her 4-Year Ordeal In Italian Prison Over, Amanda Knox Flies Home To Seattle A Free Woman
With her family at her side, Amanda Knox has left Italy.
After Italian prisoners gave her a boisterous send-off, Amanda Knox made her way home to America on Tuesday, holing up with family on the upper deck of a jetliner to Seattle as she enjoyed her first full day of freedom since her murder conviction was reversed.
Friends and family who held spaghetti dinners, bowling events and concerts to raise money for Knox's defense waited anxiously for her plane to touch down — a moment that took four years to happen.
"We all are as happy as can be. I can't tell you how long we've been looking forward to this day," her grandmother Elisabeth Huff told The Associated Press outside her home in West Seattle, a tight-knit community a few miles across Elliott Bay from downtown.
"WELCOME HOME AMANDA," read the marquee at a record store in the neighborhood where Knox grew up. Another welcome sign was hung at her father's house. A bar offered half-price drinks to celebrate her acquittal.
Knox's life turned around dramatically Monday when an Italian appeals court threw out her conviction in the sexual assault and fatal stabbing of her British roommate. The case played out under an international spotlight, and on Tuesday a courtroom picture of Knox crying after the verdict was read appeared on the front pages of newspapers in Italy, the U.S., Britain and around the world.
The court's decision, fueled by doubts over DNA evidence, stunned the victim's family and angered the prosecution, which insists that she was among three people who killed 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. But for Huff, "it was like the weight of the world had gone."
Knox, 24, left Perugia's Capanne prison Monday night amid cheers that a companion compared to those at a soccer stadium.
Hundreds of inmates — most of them in the men's wing — shouted "Amanda, ciao!" and "Freedom!" as she walked into the central courtyard, said Corrado Maria Daclon, head of the Italy-US Foundation, which championed Knox's cause. Daclon said Knox jumped a little for joy and waved to the prisoners.
She was soon on her way home, protected by the darkened windows of a Mercedes that led her out of the prison in the middle of the night, and then Tuesday morning to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport. She flew from Rome to London, where she took a direct British Airways flight to Seattle, flying business class with full-length seat and menu options including champagne, smoked salmon and prawn salad.
At least nine members of media organizations were on board, but a flight attendant blocked them from the plane's secluded upper deck "to preserve the privacy" of passengers.