News24

Amanda Knox heading home after acquittal

2011-10-04 07:15

Perugia - Amanda Knox was set to fly back to the United States on Tuesday after being acquitted of murder and released from prison in Italy in a dramatic showdown in the battle to prove her innocence.

The 24-year-old Seattle native sobbed and slumped as the verdict was read out and her parents burst into tears in the courtroom in Perugia in central Italy, while British victim Meredith Kercher's family sat in stunned silence.

She was driven back to the Capanne prison near Perugia and discharged a short time later. Knox was later seen being driven away in a black Mercedes to be reunited with her family after four years in Italian custody.

Local lawmaker Rocco Girlanda, who befriended Knox and published a book of interviews with her last year, told reporters outside the prison gates that Knox would take a commercial flight for the United States on Tuesday.

'Not committing the act'


Knox was acquitted "for not committing the act," judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann said, reading out the ruling after 11 hours of jury deliberations.

Knox's former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was appealing the same convictions for the gruesome 2007 killing, was also acquitted and drove away from Terni prison with his father, headed for his home town in southern Italy.

Knox's sister, Deanna, told reporters: "We are grateful Amanda's nightmare is over. She suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit.

In the United States, the State Department reacted to the verdict saying it appreciated the "careful consideration" of the case in the Italian courts.

Knox's friends in Seattle cheered and wept as they watched the verdict live on television.

Pamela Van Swearingen, a Seattle attorney who became involved to explore what legal options Knox might have, added: "I'm just so grateful. I'm surprised yet not surprised, just grateful."

But outside the courtroom in Perugia an angry crowd of hundreds of local residents gathered and there were shouts of: "Shame! Shame!" and "Murderers!"

Some heckled Knox's lawyers and one man shouted: "They're guilty!"

Guilty of slander


Although she was cleared of murder and sexual assault, Knox was found guilty of slander for incriminating the owner of a bar where she worked as a waitress in her first interrogation just days after the November 1, 2007 murder.

She was sentenced to time already served and will have to pay compensation to the unjustly accused man, Patrick Lumumba, as well as his legal fees.

"We have won the battle, but not the war," said one of Knox's lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, as prosecutor Giuliano Mignini promised to lodge an appeal with Italy's highest appeal court to "ensure that justice is done".

Should the prosecution team launch a final appeal, as appears likely, it would probably have to be held in absentia as the US does not normally extradite its citizens abroad for prosecution.

The 21-year-old Kercher was found half-naked in a pool of blood on the floor of her bedroom in the cottage she shared with Knox. Her body was covered in knife wounds and bruises and investigators found traces of a sexual assault.

At the original trial Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder and Sollecito to 25 years.

Knox, Sollecito and a third person, Rudy Guede, have all denied any involvement in the killing, although Guede said he was in the house at the time of the murder while Knox and Sollecito said they were at Sollecito's house that night.

Guede was also convicted and is serving out a 16-year prison sentence after exhausting his chances for appeal.

Prosecutors had asked for life sentences against Knox and Sollecito and had alleged Kercher was killed in a drug-fuelled attack involving all three of the original suspects.

"I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I wasn't there," a tearful and ashen-faced Knox told the court earlier on Monday, before the eight-person jury retired to chambers to consider its verdict.

"I am not the person they say I am. I am not into perversion and violence," she said, after her accusers told the court that she was a "she-devil".

Victim's family 'forgotten'

Kercher's family meanwhile complained their loved one had been "forgotten" in a case that has focused on the figure of Knox and they lashed out against what they called a "large PR machine" working to secure Knox's acquittal.

"We can't understand how it's possible to completely overturn the verdict in the original trial. We want the truth to be determined once and for all," the family said in a statement after the verdict.

The Kercher family is set to hold a press conference later on Tuesday.

In Britain some of the tabloids have nicknamed Knox, "Foxy Knoxy".

"What now for Foxy? Dreams of being a mother, Hollywood millions and a new life as a professional martyr to injustice," the Daily Mail opined.

Appeal verdicts that overturn the original case are relatively rare in Italy but Knox's defence had the upper hand for much of the appeal, particularly after independent experts cast serious doubt on some crucial DNA evidence.

Comments
  • Simon Gibson - 2011-10-04 07:19

    You can read a full transcript of her closing remarks for free - http://www.voicegig.com/view-speech/1654/closing-remarks-to-the-court-amanda-knox/

      Scarlett82 - 2011-10-04 07:27

      Thanks Simon

      GetitRight - 2011-10-04 14:42

      Simple...Knox and her boyfriend have not explained the following : 1. Knox's footprint made of blood in her bedroom 2. Her boyfriends footprint of blood on the bathroom mat. 3. Knox attempting to implicate Patrick Lumumba. Why? They may well be innocent but until the above is explained I reserve judgement. By and large the Italian Police made a mess up of this case. OJ Simpson No 2.

      LBS - 2011-10-04 15:57

      So it doesn't only happen here in SA

  • Beannie - 2011-10-04 07:26

    I am glad the pair of them have been freed. The original verdict was always full of holes. Justice has prevailed, let us hope they now concentrate on catching the real culprits, if it is not too late. As sorry as I feel for Merediths family, her mother always came across as a vengefull person who would rather have innocent people behind bars rather than no one. I hope that Amanda and Raffael can now pick up the pieces and get on with their young lives. Meredith is gone and no one can bring her back.

      CorbZA - 2011-10-04 08:54

      The evidence points towards someone who was also convicted of the crime. Fingerprints and DNA, and he left the country a few days later. He wasn't acquitted and is still in jail. Why they carried on to try Amanda and her boyfriend is truly bewildering and scary!

      kaja - 2011-10-04 13:41

      Do you think by just saying that Meredith is gone and no one can bring her back, is just that easy? You can't say justice has prevailed maybe it hasn't and to say her mother is a vengeful person, is disgusting, no matter if they are guilty, I hope they never have a peaceful night in their lives.

      ITseller - 2011-10-04 13:51

      @Beannie - learn the facts - the real culprit is already caught and in jail. This is what they call over here an open and shut case. 1 man did it, its clear, however Amanada and Raffael were vicitims of a delusional prosecuter.

      Karl - 2011-10-04 15:33

      This is another Fred van der Vyfer type of case. The Italian elite opinion just couldn't accept that a black man has committed the murder on instinct and instead moved heaven and earth to depict a white girl as the evil, calculating manipulator behind it all.

      GetitRight - 2011-10-04 18:00

      Note the last sentence. "Police evidence was presented showing that Knox and Sollecito did not have alibis for the time of the murder. Sollecito maintained that he was at his apartment, using his computer. Police computer analysts testified that his computer had not been used between 9:10 on the evening of the murder and 5:32 the next morning. Knox has maintained that she was with Sollecito at the time, but during police questioning after 10 pm on Monday November 5th 2007, Sollecito said that he could not be certain she was with him when he was asleep."

  • Mom & Moody - 2011-10-04 07:36

    I feel sorry for the Kercher family! They deserve closure...

      KD - 2011-10-04 12:51

      Agreed, but they shouldn't have it at two innocent kids' expense.

  • Dizzle - 2011-10-04 07:46

    Troy Davis got executed but Amanda Knox & Casey Anthony are set free.. That cannot be right. Condolences to the Kercher family. At the very least they should give a clear explanation of what happened that night because they lied so many times & even falsely accused Mr Lumumba.. Guilty is as guilty does!

      mynah - 2011-10-04 08:13

      Why compare Knox to Davis? It's a different case. Don't confuse the need for justice with the desire for revenge. Anyway, in cases like this there is always a measure of injustice, as these two should either be in jail for murder, or shouldn't have been there in the first place.

      ZACommentator - 2011-10-04 09:03

      Imagine if Knox were executed by an Italian court, with say with video evidence of her doing the deed. The USA would have a nervous breakdown, but they can kill their own I guess, the dark, the poor, the stupid and the ugly.

      Dizzle - 2011-10-04 09:08

      How can we not compare when both cases lack physical/forensic evidence.. Is that not a similarity in the cases??

      Angie Mansa - 2011-10-04 14:55

      Since Italy dont subscribe to Capital Punishment Dizzle,you cant actually compare the two cases can you? I doubt that the courts reached the decision to release Amanda if it wasnt justified. World wide there are many many people who are convicted of crimes they didnt commit. If she definitely did not commit this crime, she has spent four years of her life in prison for nothing.

      Karl - 2011-10-04 15:41

      Dizzle, her accusation of Lumumba was extracted from her by police after several nights of sleep deprivation and it was put to her as a scenario, as a way it could possibly have happened. She didn't come up with the accusation by her self, but merely agreed that it was a feasible scenario.

      Lizzee - 2011-10-05 01:34

      @Dizzle. You need to update your info on Troy Davis. He's not as innocent as you think. There was enough evidence against him: "During Davis's 1991 trial, seven witnesses testified they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, and two others testified that Davis had confessed the murder to them among 34 witnesses that testified for the prosecution, and six others for the defense, including Davis. Although the murder weapon was not recovered, ballistic evidence presented at trial linked bullets recovered at or near the scene to those at another shooting in which Davis was also charged. He was convicted of murder and various lesser charges, including the earlier shooting, and was sentenced to death in August 1991."

  • letsee - 2011-10-04 07:51

    The law followed its course and the outcome is the "legal truth". May all the families live in peace.

      Agent Bastad - 2011-10-04 09:01

      The adjective modifies the noun. It's a basic law of the english language. Actually of most languages. Truth and legal truth are not synonymous.

      Jaco - 2011-10-04 12:05

      @ Agent Which is why "legal truth" was intentionally placed between inverted commas. Still, kudos to your teacher.

  • flummoxed - 2011-10-04 07:57

    Why was Knox hanging around with all those dead beats implicated in the whole affair if as she now professes Quote 'not to be into perversion and violence?' Unquote. Personally I empathise with Kercher's family notwithstanding the fact that the whole case is sordid.

      Lizzee - 2011-10-05 01:36

      Which deadbeats?

  • Ross - 2011-10-04 08:11

    I am pleased that this innocent girl's hell is over. She must be more choosy who she associates with in future.

      GetitRight - 2011-10-04 14:48

      I presume the innocent girl you are mentioning is Meredith Kercher because Amanda Knox is sure as hell not innocent. Let her explain a fottprint of blood in her bedroom. Let's await the appeal.

      Lizzee - 2011-10-05 01:37

      Honestly, GetitRight. Do as your name suggests and get it right. You did not examine the evidence, you were not there. The court examined the evidence, they decided she's innocent based on that. If you think you could do a better job, go into law enforcement.

  • Johnny - 2011-10-04 08:38

    let me guess, hollywood has already bought the movie rights

  • Robbie - 2011-10-04 08:51

    There was always doubt in this case, glad that the benefit of the doubt won in the end.

  • John - 2011-10-04 09:00

    The evidence was inconclusive and that is the bottom line and if there is any doubt the verdict must be "not guilty". Some of the trash posted here is unbelievable with people playing judge and jury. What is worse spending life in jail for something the person did not do or be free for something you did do? Both are equally bad that is why there is a law that says you have to be proven (conclusively) guilty if not you go free. Dewani is not even going to be tried where the evisdence is looking pretty damning.

  • Agent Bastad - 2011-10-04 09:00

    Can someone say "white O.J. Simpson"?

      Lizzee - 2011-10-05 01:37

      No.

  • ZACommentator - 2011-10-04 09:00

    I am not saying she is guilty or innocent but I wonder how the verdict would have gone if she were ugly.

      Agent Bastad - 2011-10-04 09:02

      LOL

      capetonian - 2011-10-04 13:58

      I am amazed at some of the comments here!! In the Court of Appeal the defence proved to the court that there was NO forensic evidence linking either of the defendents to the crime scene. That "Prosecutor" even had the barman at the club arrested when he had an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murder! And, this "prosecutor" said in an interview with CNN that he "knew" they were guilty.....this case was a sham and casts aspersions on the Italian Prosecutorial Authority if individuals like this are able to practise law. Some of the language used to describe Amanda Knox points to the thought processes involved - words like "satanic", "she-devil" etc. (Of course you have that "Independent" state called the Vatican where paedophile priests can hide from the consequences of their despicable actions, in the same country!)

  • Stryder - 2011-10-04 09:05

    Ban prison. Look what happens, innocent people get convicted and get locked up. It is cruel and wrong.

      Tom - 2011-10-04 09:16

      So whats the alternative?

      Krush - 2011-10-04 09:19

      Yeah let's ban prison. Whats the point anyway, most of the criminals are running around freely anyway. Whats some more murders and rapes right?

      Stryder - 2011-10-04 09:37

      Actually trying to use irony wrt the death penalty. If she had been sentenced to death the bleeding hearts would all be jumping up saying, "You see! An innocent person almost got executed."

      Engeltjie - 2011-10-04 12:47

      and save us some tax money....I'd rather pay tax money and know that some of the criminals are locked up. Rather keep some of the monsters locked up than have all of them running around.

  • goggapens - 2011-10-04 09:14

    This is great!!! I followed the story, with views from former FBI agent Steve Moor. If you read through all the evidence ect.then I still don't understand how they were convicted in the first place. At least now Amanda and Raffaele can start their young lives again.

  • Snotty - 2011-10-04 10:01

    Meredith's spirit will always follow these people cos as they only know what happened on that horrible day .they were so drugged and horny that they could'nt remember where they where RIP angel.........

      Lizzee - 2011-10-05 01:39

      Exactly Snotty, they know! You don't. Thus you can't accuse them. You were not there. And according to evidence, they were not. So they know they were not there.

  • Madam001 - 2011-10-04 10:31

    I guess we will never know the truth, if they are innocent then thank goodness they were acquitted, if they are guilty then they should spend the rest of their lives wondering when karma is going to get them...

  • Libertador - 2011-10-04 12:26

    I would have loved to see her on an episode of "Snapped" or " Women who Kill" on Channel 255.

      daaivark - 2011-10-04 13:39

      So you watch imperialist TV, do you? lol.

  • SAHomeGrown - 2011-10-04 13:05

    If she's guilty and she knows it, then she will have to live with that for the rest of her life. Bad deeds almost always come back to haunt you. But if she didn't, then I'm glad she was aquitted. She's had 4 years of her life taken from her.

      Stouteboude - 2011-10-04 14:24

      I wonder about that - I mean you do not stop living in prison - or do you? To me it looks like a very different life with less of your own choices, but it is still life, is it not?

      SAHomeGrown - 2011-10-04 16:56

      Yeah, you're right, it's still a life, but she may have missed out on many opportunities. And I can't imagine life in prison is much fun either.

  • wonderkid73 - 2011-10-04 13:24

    I don't get why there has been so much focus on Amanda Knox. There were two people involved in this appeal. Whether they did it or not, the media made this what it is because Amanda happens to be attractive. A pretty person clearly couldn't be involved, but someone did it. Would anyone have cared if this had just been about Raffaele Sollecito?

      daaivark - 2011-10-04 13:39

      The great US PR-machine.

      Barry M - 2011-10-04 14:02

      Not me - that's a fact!

  • Winsome - 2011-10-04 13:47

    The police overseas seem to wear blinkers - and once they have "chosen" a suspect that is it! Notwithstanding the fact the evidence was really skimpy to say the least. I am so pleased the 2 are free at last - that poor young girl has protested her innocence from the word go. Sorry for Meredith's family - they need to keep revenge out of it though, as they are starting to sound so spiteful when they comment.

  • Pernosco - 2011-10-04 14:40

    Sounds like South African justice to me!

  • Firstworld - 2011-10-04 14:40

    The black guy is obviously guilty, as usual. Congrats Amanda!

  • Reynold - 2011-10-04 15:24

    ONE CAN DECIEVE MAN ON THIS EARTH. IT IS EASY BUT THE TRUTH ALWAYS COMES OUT AND EVENTUALLY THE TRUTH COMES OUT. WHEN YOU FACE JUDGEMENT, YOU GET MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR. HOPE THEY ARE INNOCENT.

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