As the jury verdict in the courtroom in Perugia was broadcast around the world, there were cries of “She’s free!” and “We did it!” in a packed hotel room in downtown Seattle where a group of Amanda Knox‘s friends and supporters had gathered hours earlier to await the news.
People cheered and hugged as if the Seahawks had just won the Super Bowl. Mark Waterbury, a forensic scientist and key member of the Seattle-based Friends of Amanda campaign, told the Seattle Times moments after the verdict came through that the freeing of Knox had been the work of “four years and thousands of people. We did it!”
Tom Wright, a screenwriter and friend of the Knox family, said: “To Amanda herself, we say: way to go, kid. We will welcome you with open arms and open hearts.”
Although the jury upheld her conviction for defamation, it was cancelled out by the length of time she has already served in prison, and Knox will be allowed to leave Perugia within hours. What happens to her next is a matter of conjecture.
There has been speculation that an unidentified US television station has arranged for her to fly back to her home in Seattle in a private jet, but that has been denied by friends of the family. At the initial trial in 2009, Knox’s parents had pre-bought her a plane ticket home that was never used. This time they did not tempt fate in such a way, and their travel arrangements are unknown.
It may be that Knox will want to disappear for a while from public view and to spend some time with her family in a secret location away from the inevitable media circus.
Her supporters in Seattle have already been approaching local businesses to enquire about possible work openings for her. Her family has also indicated that she will be interested in writing a book – for which she would be certain to receive massive offers from publishers around the world.
A return to studies is a further possibility. During her four years in prison Knox perfected her ltalian language and maintained her relationship with her former college, the University of Washington, through correspondence course.
All these possibilities notwithstanding, observers predicted it would be a difficult re-entry for Knox into ordinary life. Paul Ciolino, a Chicago-based investigator who travelled to Perugia to research the Knox case, said the experience she has been through will inevitably have taken its toll. “It’s going to be a long journey to recovery. It’s very difficult to put your life back together after something like this.”
Ciolino said that as soon as he had started to dig into the details of the case, the inadequacies of the police investigation had been glaring. “It was sloppy. There was no physical evidence, no eyewitnesses, nothing to show that Knox had ever been in trouble of any sort.”
Gloria Allred, who has represented many women in controversial cases, called Knox’s release a “wonderful verdict. Anything else would have been an extreme injustice – it would have been horrible if she had spent even one more day in prison.”
Allred said much of the blame for the injustice Knox had been through lay with the media, in Italy in particular, which had been “out of control. Knox was portrayed in a way that was completely unfair – to be called a she-devil, Foxy Knoxy out of context, to suggest that she would do such terrible things to her roommate was so unfair to her.”
As part of the judgment, Knox will be fined 22,000 euros for having committed slander. But given the publicity surrounding the case, it is unlikely that her support group will now find it difficult raising that money for her.
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Categories: The Western Press