Amanda Knox Vigil: Supporters Cheer As Knox Found Not Guilty
SEATTLE -- Once it was clear that Amanda Knox's Italian murder conviction was overturned, her supporters in Seattle burst into cheers, threw their hands in the air and began to cry in joy.
"She's free," Tom Rochelle repeated as the translation of the Italian judge's words came across TV Monday.
Surrounded by news cameras, the dozen or so supporters began hugging each other at a downtown hotel suite. The celebration marked four years of uncertainty for friends and supporters of Knox's family.
In its ruling, the Italian appeals court also cleared Knox's co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, of murder in Meredith Kercher's death. Kercher, 21, shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. She was stabbed to death in her bedroom.
Knox and Sollecito, her former boyfriend from Italy, were convicted of murdering Kercher in 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter and native of the Ivory Coast.
Knox and Sollecito denied wrongdoing and the appeals court ultimately agreed.
Supporters also expressed sympathy for the Kercher family.
"This is primarily a sad occasion," said Tom Wright, one of the main organizers of the Friends of Amanda group, after the verdict. "They lost their daughter. We'll keep them in our prayers."
Knox grew up in Seattle, attending a private Jesuit high school before going to the University of Washington.
Friends of Amanda formed shortly after Knox was arrested for murder in 2007. With Italy nine hours ahead of Seattle, the group rented a suite and waited through the night for the court's ruling.
Friends of Amanda is made up of parents of her high school classmates, her friends from college and high school, and sympathizers from around the country. Some never met the young Seattle woman, including Rochelle, who joined the group two years ago after learning about Knox in the news.
From trips to Italy to sending Knox books, the group has been a pillar of support for the family.
Kellanne Henry is friends with Edda Mellas, Knox's mother, and has visited the family in Italy.
"It's the first night in four years that (Edda) is going to know her daughter is safe," said Henry, holding crumpled tissues in her hand. "That was a really overwhelming thought for me."
Some of the people gathered for Knox wore T-shirts that said "Free Amanda and Raffaele." Photographs of Knox, Sollecito and Kercher, illuminated by candles, were set up in the suite.
"It's unreal," John Lange, Knox's former teacher, kept repeating after the verdict was read.
Lange remembers Knox as the modest drama student who played an orphan in the high school's production of "Annie."
"There's the person you know and there's the widely varying depictions of her character largely wrong, and upsetting to those of us who know her," Lange said earlier in the day.
Wright spent the last minutes leading to the verdict writing a speech, pending a verdict. When asked, he said his words didn't anticipate that the conviction would not be overturned.
"It was inconceivable for me that she wasn't coming home," Wright said.
Meredith Kercher Found Dead
Nov. 2, 2007: Meredith Kercher (pictured) was found dead in her Perugia apartment. It was determined she died the night before. Nov. 6: Amanda Knox, Kercher's American roommate was arrested with her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Diya Lumumba, who owned the pub where Knox worked. The latter was released from jail due to lack of evidence on Nov. 20.
Kercher and Knox in Perugia, Italy
This is the house in Perugia, a university town in central Italy, where Kercher and Knox lived. Witnesses said the two roommates had a falling out over a number of issues, including Knox's sanitary habits, alleged thefts of cash and her alleged habit of bringing "strange men" back to the home.
Amanda Knox Arrested
In this Sept. 16, 2008 file photo, then murder suspect Amanda Knox is escorted by Italian penitentiary police officers from Perugia's court after a hearing, central Italy. Knox was arrested on Nov. 6, 2007 with her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and the owner of the pub she worked at. She and Sollecito were indicted on murder and sexual assault charges in October, 2008.
This Nov. 2, 2007 file photo shows Italian student Raffaele Sollecito outside the rented house where 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher was found dead on Nov 1, in Perugia, Italy.
Rudy Hermann Guede
Dec. 6, 2007: Rudy Hermann Guede, center, a drifter from the Ivory Coast, was extradited from Germany and jailed. He was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison. An appeals court upheld the conviction on Dec. 22, 2009, but his term was reduced to 16 years.
Knox, Sollecito Murder Trial
June 26, 2009: Murder suspect Raffaele Sollecito is escorted by a penitentiary police officer as he arrives for a hearing in the Meredith Kercher murder trial, in Perugia, Italy.
Amanda Knox Testifimony
June 13, 2009: Amanda Knox testifies at the sitting of the Meredith Kercher murder trial at the Perugia courthouse in Perugia, Italy.
Dec. 4, 2009: Court finds both Knox and Sollecito (pictured) guilty of murder and sexual assault. They are convicted to 26 and 25 years respectively.
December, 2009: Arline Kercher, the victim's mother, wipes her eyes during a news conference following the guilty verdict.
Amanda Knox Guilty
The Italian newspaper Corriere dell' Umbria carries news of the convictions of Knox and Sollecito. The case made headlines in both countries, but for different reasons: In the U.S., it was seen by legal experts as deeply flawed. But in Italy, Knox was viewed as harboring a secret dark side and was largely presumed guilty.
Amanda Knox Guilty
December, 2009: Knox's father, Curt, and her sister Deanna leave an Italian prison in Capanne after visiting Amanda. The family insisted she was innocent. "We will take this as far as we have to take this, because she is walking out of there totally free of anything related to this," Curt Knox later told The Seattle Times.
Amanda Knox Appeal
April, 2010: Knox's attorneys argued in their appeal that the forensic and DNA evidence in the case was mishandled and inconclusive. They also contend that prosecutors failed to come up with a motive and that the conviction was based on false hypotheses.
Amanda Knox Appeal
June 1, 2010: Knox appears in a Perugia court for a preliminary hearing on charges she slandered Italian police. She claims police beat her during questioning in Kercher's death. Knox's parents were charged with libel for repeating their daughter's allegations.
Nov. 24, 2010: Knox, 23, appealed her conviction and 26-year prison sentence for Kercher's murder. The trial for her and Sollecito opened in Parugia. Here, she appears with her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, at a Jan. 22 hearing.
Amanda Knox Accuser Testifies in Court
Rudy Geude, already convicted separately for his part in Meredith Kercher's death, is now pointing the finger at Knox and her boyfriend.
Edda Mellas and Curt Knox
Feb. 15, 2011: Knox's parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, were indicted on slander charges. The pair faced sentences to up to three years in prison if convicted.
Amanda Knox Appeal
A 2 image combo shows Amanda Knox entering the Perugia court in these May 21, 2011, left, and Feb. 14, 2009 file photos. Two years ago, as she waited to know whether she'd be found guilty of murdering her British roommate, Amanda Knox was so confident she thought she'd be flying home within hours. She never did. Still behind bars, still waiting for a verdict, this time by an appeals court, the American is a changed woman, family and friends say, more mature, more wary of people around her, increasingly anxious as the moment of truth approaches. The transformation is apparent from the outside. Gone is the Beatles sweater, the confident demeanor, the irreverent smile. Now 24, Knox is conservatively dressed, pale and thinner. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici/Files)
Amanda Knox Acquitted
Oct. 3, 2011: Amanda Knox breaks in tears after hearing the verdict that overturns her conviction and acquits her of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, at the Perugia court. Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction and ordered the young American freed after nearly four years in prison for the death of her British roommate. Knox collapsed in tears after the verdict overturning her 2009 conviction was read out. Her co-defendant, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, also was cleared.
Amanda Knox Goes Free After Conviction Reversed
The 24 year-old American who spent four years in an Italian prison had her murder conviction reversed by an appeals court, that questioned evidence and ordered immediate release. Within hours, she was heading home to Washington State. Tim Minton says reasonable doubt cuts both ways.
Amanda Knox Memoir Due in 2013
After an intense bidding war, HarperCollins has struck a deal with Amanda Knox to tell her story.
Amanda Knox to Face Retrial
March 26, 2013: Italy's highest criminal court overturned Amanda Knox's acquittal in the killing of her British roommate and ordered a new trial, prolonging a case that has become a cause celebre in the United States.