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Amanda Knox: Home at Last

Amanda Knox, center, is comforted by sister Deanna Knox, right, and mother Edda Mellas, left, at a press conference after her return to Seattle. Photo by Stephen Brashear  /  Getty Images
Amanda Knox, center, is comforted by sister Deanna Knox, right, and mother Edda Mellas, left, at a press conference after her return to Seattle. Photo by Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

October 4, 2011, 5:13pm PST, SeaTac Airport.  The British Airways jet touches down and Amanda Knox is home!  Those are the words that I have wanted to print for years.

October 3, 2011, 1:30 am PST, Raffaele Sollecito’s statement to the court:  “I never hurt anyone, never in my whole life.  The charge against me, it was so outlandish that I thought that it could disappear within a little amount of time, everything could be clarified.  But this did not happen and somehow I had to endure and go on day by day and I’ve been living a nightmare. 

On this bracelet is written ‘Free Amanda and Raffaele.’  It’s a bracelet that I’ve have never taken off after I received it as a present; I think is time for me to take it off.  It’s a companion that gives me different emotions. There is a desire for justice for the efforts on the path I’ve taken in this dark tunnel.  There is also the desire for freedom.  And there is also the affection and the tenderness which we’ve shown each other ever since we’ve met.  This bracelet is part of history and our past, it represents somehow the past; I hope it will bring new hopes in new future.” 

October 3, 2011, 2am PST, Amanda’s statement to the court:  “It was said many times that I'm a different person from the way I look and that people cannot figure out who I am.  I'm the same person I was four years ago; I've always been the same.  The only difference is what I suffered in four years.

I lost a friend in the most brutal inexplicable way.  My trust, my full trust, in the police has been betrayed.  I had to face absolutely unjust charges, accusations and I'm paying with my life for something that I did not commit. 

Four years ago I was four years younger, but fundamentally I was younger because I had never suffered before four years ago.  Because four years ago I didn't know what tragedy was; it was something I would watch on television that didn't belong to me.  I had never faced so much fear and tragedy and suffering, I did not know how to face that, I didn't know how to live that deeply.  How I felt when we found out that Meredith had been killed, I couldn't believe it.  How that was possible, first of all, then fear, because the person whom I shared my life with, who had the bed next to mine, had been killed in our home and if I would have been home that night, I'd be dead.  I would have been killed just like her.

The only difference is I was not there, I was with Raffaele, at Raffaele's place.  I had no one; he was everything to me at that moment.  At that very moment, at that moment in time, I had him. 

And another thing was my passion; I had a sense of duty before justice.  I had a sense of duty before authorities, which I trusted because they were there to find out who the culprit was, there to protect us.  I blindly trusted them wholly, completely, absolutely and I made myself available up to the point of utter exhaustion those days.  I was betrayed starting November 5th, I wasn't only stressed, I was manipulated. 

I am not what they say I am, the violence, the spite of life, the life of someone that was not mine and I didn't do what they say I did.  I didn't kill.  I didn't rape.  I didn't steal.  I was not there.

I remember the guy that we met in the apartment downstairs, but I didn't know him even by name.  He was just someone around, a face.  He was not a person that I had some contact with.  So when they say, 'Oh, you knew him," I never did what they said that I did.  They also say that that's what happened, but just like this.  It's not like that. 

I was untidy.  We had a good relationship.  We were all available to each other.  I shared my life, especially with Meredith.  We had a friendship.  We were friends.  She was concerned for me.  She was always kind to me.  She cared about me. 

Meredith was killed, was murdered, and I always wanted justice for her.  I'm not escaping truth.  I never escaped.  I'm not fleeing from justice.  I insist on the truth.  I insist after four hopeless years. 

My innocence, our innocence is true.  It deserves to be defended and acknowledged.  I want to go home.  I want to go back to my life.  I don't want to be punished.  I don't want my future to be taken away from me for something I didn't do.  Because I am innocent, just like he is innocent.  We deserve freedom.  We didn't do anything not to deserve freedom.  

I have all the respect for this court, for the care shown during our trial. Thank you.”

October 4, 2011, 1pm PST, Judge Claudio Patrillo Hellmann’s verdict:  “…Amanda Knox is guilty of defamation excluding the aggravating factor and mitigating circumstances are recognized according article 368 of the criminal code, three years of imprisonment for this.  The court upholds the civil sanctions and demands Amanda Knox to pay legal expenses incurred by Patrick Lumumba as well as a lump sum reimbursement…

…Both of the defendants for A, B, C & D because they have not committed the crime and therefore the request made by the parties is not accepted.  The hearing is over thank you.”

Amanda began sobbing as her lawyers held on to her, Raffaele, smiling ear to ear, hugged his; their families erupted in cries of joy.  The Kercher’s sat in stunned silence, later commenting that they still didn’t know who killed Meredith.  Supporters of these three innocent families, from around the world, erupted into a celebration that was tempered with a sincere wish that the Kercher’s would find the answer to their question.

The Defamation Charge stemmed from Amanda’s illegal interrogation, which had resulted in a false confession.  In it, she had accused her boss, Patrick Lumumba, of murder and placed herself in the apartment at the time it allegedly occurred.  Except for those interrogative hours, Amanda and Raffaele have always maintained that they were at his apartment the night Meredith was killed.  Patrick Lumumba grew up in the war-torn Congo and perhaps it’s his fear of the police that caused him to defamed Amanda in the press and sue her for false accusation. 

Meredith had been found with Negroid hair in her hand (Rudy Guede’s) and the police were looking for a black man.  Patrick is black, so a text message between Amanda and Patrick, “See you later, good night,” was twisted to mean “Let’s get together later and kill Meredith.”

Hours into the interrogation, tag-teamed by a dozen cops and under extreme duress, Amanda was terrorized into ‘visualizing’ how Patrick Lumumba killed Meredith.  “If you were there,” they yelled, “what would you see and hear!”  She fabricated the scenario that they wanted: “Patrick was in the bedroom killing Meredith and I was in the kitchen with my hands over my ears to suppress her screams.” 

This statement was leaked to the press as ‘fact’ and, with a rudimentary grasp of the language and utterly exhausted, Amanda was made to sign the false confession written in Italian.  A few hours later, finally aware of the deception, she retracted.  The Supreme Court later threw it out, citing its illegalities: no lawyer, no interpreter and no videotape.

The second part, the Murder Charge, is hugely important, the phrase “they have not committed the crime” exonerates both kids under Italian Law.  The prosecution can appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, but US extradition laws are very clear, there has to be reasonable doubt and that does not exist in this case. 

Amanda was taken back to Capanne Prison to collect her things.  During the day the prisoners had hung clothing and bedding out of the windows, an outward sign of solidarity for Amanda and twice the reporters outside heard them cheering, just after the verdict and when Amanda returned for the last time.

She penned a handwritten letter to her supporters in Italy before she left: "To hold my hand and offer support and respect throughout the obstacles and the controversy, there were Italians. There was the Italy-USA Foundation, and many others that shared my pain and that helped me survive, with hope.  I am eternally grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous commitment.  To those that wrote me, that defended me, that stood by me, that prayed for me.  I am forever grateful to you.  I love you, Amanda"

When she landed at SeaTac, one day after the verdict, she said:  “I’m really overwhelmed right now, I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn’t real. What’s important to me to say is just thank you everyone, who’s believed in me, who’s defended me, who’s supported my family.  My family is the most important thing to me right now, I just want to go and be with them. So thank you for being there for me.”

That includes you my friends.   You helped free the Knox family from questions about Amanda’s innocence and gave them back a sense of peace and security here at home; I am humbled to have been your executive assistant.

Raffaele, emailing and Skyping right away, posted a message on Facebook: “I'm back from the ashes.  I feel dazed and confused right now, but I deeply appreciate the flood of support and love which surrounds me.  I think quite no one can understand how I feel except Amanda and someone else who has passed through something similar.  I hope to know all of you one day.  Thank you so much for your very important support.  Now I have to ponder and think what I can do for my new life, with no hurry.  Many of you already have an idea of my intentions.” 

Before his incarceration, Raffaele had planned to continue his Computer Graphics major and study abroad in the US.  While incarcerated he completed one degree and nearly a second.  I hope he has a carefree time in the US, but for now family, friends and the beach are his only concerns.

Meredith Kercher’s family quietly returned to England, shocked and confused to find that their ‘truth’ was a monstrous mistake: Amanda and Raffaele did not murder their beloved Meredith.  Her father, John Kercher, is writing a book about the Perugian investigation and I hope he thoroughly examines the defense point of view, he’s heard enough of the prosecution’s.

Rudy Guede, whose DNA was the only profile found in Meredith’s bedroom, has been in prison this entire time and the Kercher’s were led to believe that he was simply a bystander.

In Perugia, Amanda was forced to wear the Mask of Convicted Murderer and the Mantle of Sex-Crazed Satanist.  In Seattle, finally free to shake them off, she lay in the soft grass and once again became Amanda Knox.  A steady stream of family and friends has been to visit and Seattle’s media set a precedent with their withdrawal to honor the family’s request for privacy. 

Relief has swept over planet Earth and we wish all three innocent families peace as they begin the next chapter.  Amanda and Raffaele are free and somewhere, I hope, Meredith’s spirit is at rest.