Posted on October 4, 2011 at 8:58 PM
Tuesday, Oct 4 at 10:54 PM
SEATTLE, Wash. - An emotional and “overwhelmed” Amanda Knox returned home to Seattle on Tuesday, a day after an Italian appeals court cleared her of murder.
A plane carrying Knox, who grew up in Seattle where both of her now divorced parents still live, landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 5 p.m.
Knox, who spent four years in prison for the murder of her roommate before she was cleared by the appeals court, wiped away tears as she spoke to a massive crowd of reporters at the airport moments after she stepped off the plane.
“They are reminding me to speak in English because I’m having trouble with that,” Knox, 24, said. “I’m really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn’t real.”
She also thanked “everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me,” during the ordeal.
"I just want my family. That's the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go be with them so thank you for being here with me," she said.
In Italty on Monday Amanda Knox broke down after hearing that the court had overturned her 2009 conviction for murdering 21 year old Meredith Kercher, in what the prosecution said was a drug-fueled sex game.
The court also cleared her former boyfriend, Rafaele Sollecito, leaving Rudy Guede, the drifter from the Ivory Coast as the only person convicted in a killing that investigators believe was carried out by more than one person.
Some people maintain that Amanda Knox got out because she is an attractive young woman who remained, over the past four years, a media obsession.
“I’ve done criminal law for a long time,” says Phoenix Attorney Leslie LeMense, “I've done it on the defense side and on the prosecution side so I can certainly see where there is a camp of that particular mindset. However, if you look at the evidence, you will see why they let her go.”
Attorneys for Knox and Sollecito picked apart DNA evidence that played a key role in the original convictions.
Part of the prosecution’s case was based on DNA found on a knife and on a bra clasp belonging to the victim, British college student Meredith Kercher.
LeMense, who has lived in Italy, closely watched this case.
“The evidence was actually removed from the crime scene roughly six weeks after the day the crime occurred. In our country,” she said, “you would hopefully not see that type of forensic investigation.”
LeMense says since the start, she believed Amanda Knox was wrongly accused.
“They had a knife that was inconsistent with the crime scene. Inconsistent with the wounds they found on the victim. That was the DNA they used to link Ms. Knox. Her DNA on the handle and the victim’s on the blade; but that is not unusual, because they were roommates.”
After Knox walked out a free woman, her family – who was in the courtroom in Italy – spoke to the media.
“We’re thankful that Amanda’s nightmare is over. She suffered for four years for a crime that she did not commit.”
Amanda Knox always maintained her innocence.
“They made her out to be a violent, vicious kind of tramp, really.” LeMense told 3TV News at 10.
Knox did change her story along the way; first blaming the murder on a bartender and then saying she was off watching movies, smoking pot and having sex with her boyfriend.
LeMense says that is not necessarily surprising, “You can imagine the stress and trauma both emotionally, physically and mentally as to what they are going through. Which could certainly lend itself to the multiple stories. She might have been thinking 'boy let me say anything to get out of this twilight zone nightmare.'”
A nightmare that ended four years after it began for Amanda Knox.
She was taken to an undisclosed location from the airport. Her father, Curt Knox, returned home without her. Speaking to reporters outside his home he said she “needed her space” and that she had not agreed to any media deals.
"She has been in a concrete bunker for four years," he said.