Amanda Knox freed

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, central Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction Monday 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 of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in 2007. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

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, central Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction Monday 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 of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in 2007. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Witnesses say Amanda Knox has left prison after her 2009 conviction for killing her British roommate was thrown out on appeal.

Italian lawmaker Rocco Girlanda, who has spearheaded Knox's case and is close to the American, says she and her family will leave Italy on Tuesday aboard a commercial flight from Rome.

A convoy of cars was seen leaving Perugia's Campanne prison about 90 minutes after the verdict was handed down, and witnesses reported seeing Knox in one of the cars.

POSTED EARLIER

An Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction Monday 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 of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in 2007.

The Kercher family looked on grimly and a bit dazed as the verdict was read out by the judge after 11 hours of deliberations by the eight-member jury. Outside the courthouse, some of the hundreds of observers shouted "Shame, shame!"

Yet inside the frescoed courtroom, Knox's parents, who have regularly traveled from their home in Seattle to Perugia to visit the 24-year-old over the past four years, hugged their lawyers and cried with joy.

"We've been waiting for this for four years," said one of Sollecito's lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno.

The judge upheld Knox's conviction on a charge of slander for accusing bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba of carrying out the killing. He set the sentence at three years, meaning for time served. Knox has been in prison since Nov. 6, 2007.

Prosecutors can appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court. There was no word late Monday if they planned to do so.

POSTED EARLIER

PERUGIA, Italy — Amanda Knox tearfully told an Italian appeals court Monday she did not kill her British roommate, pleading for the jury to free her so she can return to the United States after four years behind bars. Moments later, the court began deliberations.

Knox frequently paused for breath and fought back tears as she spoke in Italian to the eight members of the jury in a packed courtroom, but managed to maintain her composure during the 10-minute address.

"I’ve lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible," she said of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Briton who shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. "I’m paying with my life for things that I didn’t do."

Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend from Italy, were convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. They both deny wrongdoing.

"I never hurt anyone, never in my life," Sollecito said Monday in his own speech to the jury.

Presiding Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann said the jury would not emerge before 1800 GMT (2 p.m. EDT) at the earliest.

Kercher’s mother, sister and a brother traveled to Perugia for the verdict. They have expressed worry over the possibility of an acquittal but told reporters as deliberations were under way that they hoped the jury would do the right thing and not be influenced by the media’s focus on the case.

"As long as they decide today based purely on the information available to them and they don’t look into the media hype, I think justice will be found," the victim’s sister, Stephanie Kercher, told reporters. She said the family was satisfied with the original verdicts.

She lamented that Meredith had been "most forgotten" in the media circus surrounding the case, with news photos more frequently showing Knox and Sollecito than "Mez" — the victim’s nickname. "It’s very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this," she said.

The family, however, said it could understand the Knox family’s media campaign.

"They fully believe in her innocence. You can’t blame them for that," said Lyle Kercher, the victim’s brother. "But it’s obviously hard for us."

The highly anticipated verdict will be broadcast live. Hundreds of reporters and camera crews filled the underground, frescoed courtroom before Knox’s address on Monday, while police outside cordoned off the entrance to the tribunal.

The trial has captivated audiences worldwide: Knox, the 24-year-old American, and Sollecito, a soft-spoken Italian, were convicted of murdering a fellow student in what the lower court said had begun as a drug-fueled sexual assault.

Knox insisted Monday that she had nothing to do with the murder and that Kercher was a friend who was always nice to her. Gesticulating, at times clasping her hands together, the American said she has always wanted justice for Kercher.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features