10.03.11 11:21 PM ET
Amanda Knox Now a Free Woman
Amanda Knox left prison a free woman after a judge ordered her release in a dramatic courtroom ruling. The American now heads home to Seattle, but the prosecution vows to appeal. Plus, breaking updates on the verdict's fallout and video from Perugia.
Amanda Knox left Capanne prison outside of Perugia, Italy, a free woman on Monday night. Hours earlier, she and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were absolved of the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher, staging a crime scene and theft. Knox’s slander conviction was upheld, for which she was sentenced to three years in prison—effectively the time she has already served.
Inside the courtroom, the judge cautioned her supporters to stay silent when he read the verdict, but it seemed obvious what he would say. Across the aisle, Kercher’s mother, sister, and brother sat silently, seemingly equally aware of what was about to happen. When the judge ordered their immediate liberation from prison, both Knox and Sollecito wept openly and embraced their lawyers. Outside the courthouse, protesters who had anticipated the acquittal gathered, some holding pictures of Meredith yelling “shame, shame” at the verdict.
It was the judicial decision everyone expected but no one quite believed at the moment the judge ordered Knox liberated. There was silence in the courtroom and Knox’s cries were at first misleading, but when everyone realized she would walk free her family stifled their excitement. Then wild hugging ensued among Knox and Sollecito’s families, and the two newly acquitted defendants were whisked away by police. Knox looked near collapse as guards literally held her up as she left the courtroom.
Knox was then taken back to prison and released within an hour, driving with her family to an undisclosed location. She and her family got on a plane from Rome to London on Tuesday morning, en route to Seattle.
The case is not over quite yet, though. The prosecution vows to appeal and bring the duo back to face “justice,” and the case will surely go to the high court. In the meantime, the story jumps to Seattle, where the world’s tabloids are already waiting for the return of Foxy Knoxy.