For all the fanfare surrounding the Amanda Knox trial, the American college student left an Italian prison quietly and quickly on Monday, four years after she entered.
Knox was driven away, shielded by the tinted windows of a black car, flanked by a lone escort, under the cover of night.
Her release caps off a day in which an Italian appeals court partially overturned the murder conviction of Knox and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who in 2009 were found guilty of murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher, her roommate.
It is unclear if Sollecito has been released.
Knox and Sollecito were serving a 26- and 25-year prison sentence. Knox’s conviction for defamation of initial murder suspect Patrick Lumumba was upheld today by the court.
“We’re thankful that Amanda’s nightmare is over,” said Amanda Knox’s sister Deanna Knox after the decision was read. “She suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit.”
Hours before the verdict was announced, Knox pleaded her innocence, insisting in Italian to a packed courtroom that she was not responsible for Kercher’s murder.
“I am not who they say I am,” Knox said. “I did not kill. I did not rape. I was not there.”
Knox went on to tell the jury that during the four years she has been locked up for the crimes that she has suffered, but remains the same person she was in 2007 when the saga began.
“I am paying for something with my life that I haven’t done … if I had been in that house, I would have been murdered,” she said.
Knox was studying in Perugia, Italy, when her roommate was found murdered and brutally assaulted. The partially clothed Kercher was found with her throat slashed in the apartment she shared with Knox.
The Italian justice system provides the convicted with two appeals. However, the prosecution can also appeal. Prosecutors in this case asked that her conviction not only be upheld, but that her sentence be increased from 26 years to life in prison.
In her Monday morning statement, Knox said Sollecito had also been wrongly convicted.
“Raffaele is innocent,” she said.
A vigil was held Monday in Knox’s hometown of Seattle during which supporters watched and waited. Tom Wright, founder of Friends for Amanda, told CNN that Knox was “full of hope” for her release.
Courtesy Of WOIO.COM