Amanda Knox arrived in Seattle, her home city, as a free woman after serving four years in an Italian jail for the murder of English student Meredith Kercher.
After dramatically being cleared of the murder in court on Monday, Amanda Knox touched down at Seattle-Tacoma airport to rapturous applause at just after 5:00 p.m. local time.
Amanda Knox made an emotional thank you speech from the airport, addressing all those who stood by her since her murder conviction and saying: “Thank you for being there for me”.
“I’m really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the aeroplane, I felt like it wasn’t real.
“Thank you for everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family.
“I just want – my family’s the most important thing to me… Thank you for being there for me.”
Amanda Knox and her family headed home for an intimate celebration, with a party believed to have been organized because she never properly got to celebrate her 21st birthday.
Amanda Knox has been planning her home-coming celebration in detail since the early days of her incarceration, drawing up an exhaustive list of things she wants to do now she is finally free.
Notes from the diary that detectives encouraged Amanda Knox to keep reveal the extensive plans she had made, and even the list of 42 guests.
Taking pride of place will have been Amanda Knox’s maths teacher, mother and stepfather, Chris Mellas, her father Curt, a financial executive, and his wife Cassandra, plus her sister Deanna, 22, and stepsisters Ashley, 16, and Delaney, 13, all of whom were at court on Monday and led the cheering.
Amanda Knox now also hopes to be reunited with David Johnsrud, the boyfriend with whom she broke up when they left the University of Washington to travel on exchange programmes, he to China, she to Perugia.
Amanda Knox’s father, that he initially thought his daughter had again been found guilty of murder, arrived home at around 6:00 p.m. yesterday evening in a taxi with family members, not including Amanda or her mother.
Speaking outside his home in Seattle, Curt Knox revealed Amanda wants to enjoy simple pleasures, such as lying on a grassy field, before completing the degree she never got to finish while incarcerated in Italy.
“She’s overwhelmed,” he said.
“She’s been in prison for almost four years and to be able to get out and just try to get back home and get back here where she grew up and everything was just very overwhelming to her.
“The first things [Amanda will do] I think will be some of the simplest things like you know laying down in some grass. She’s been in a concrete steal prison for four years and the simplest things you take for granted she hasn’t had. So probably something as simple as that and then she’ll try to just start re-adjusting, reconnecting with all of her friends and family and stuff like that.”
Asked about their plans for the evening, Curt Knox said:
“It’s mainly really just be with her family and that’s what she’s wanted to be doing for four years now. She’s not at her mum’s house. She needs some space and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Amanda Knox is now hoping to finish her degree at the University of Washington which was interrupted by her Italian ordeal.
“That’s going to be one of her goals, getting her diploma for the university hopefully. That’s probably where she’ll start. I think this experience is going to possibly change what she wants to do with her life and that’s still to be determined from her,” Amanda Knox’s father said.
“I’m not going to say she’s enrolling tomorrow by any means but I suspect that’s where she is going to finish her degree, yes.”
When asked what Amanda Knox first said to him after being freed, he said: “That she loved us. She pretty much squished the air out of us when we were hugging her and stuff like that. It was really nice.”
Amanda Knox’s ex-boyfriend David Johnsrud, who she affectionately called “DJ”, exchanged daily letters with her during some of the time she was in prison and has always maintained her innocence, leaving open the possibility of a reconciliation.
Amanda Knox will not, however, be reunited with her beloved pet Labrador Ralphie, her grandmother, Elisabeth Huff, revealed because he died while she was in prison.
Amanda Knox, who is set to make millions in TV, magazine, newspaper and book deals now that she is home, is said to have been anxious as she was taken to the airport police station yesterday morning to sign various forms – even calling her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova to check everything was fine for her to go through immigration and board the British Airways flight.
Shortly after Amanda Knox’s plane took off, Italian public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini announced his intention to take her case to a third and final appeal and described the decision to free her as a “massive mistake”.
Appeals judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman will write a report within the next 90 days on why he and the jury came to their decision. This will be poured over by prosecutors to see on what grounds they can launch their appeal – which is unlikely to be heard until next year.
The panel of judges in Rome will then look at paperwork from the case and decide if there were any mistakes in the application of the law and if the case should be reopened.
Even though Italy could in theory ask for Amanda Knox extradition it is thought unlikely that the U.S. would hand her over.
Meanwhile Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox’s former boyfriend who was jailed with her and also freed yesterday, arrived back home, near the southern Italian city of Bari.
Raffaelle Sollecito was quoted by Italian news agencies saying he was looking forward to seeing the sea, but he declined to make any appearances after reaching home.