flew back home to the United States as a free woman Tuesday, after an Italian appeals court overturned the American student's conviction of sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007.
24-year-old Amanda Knox burst into tears as the Italian appeals court read out its verdict that dramatically overturned the conviction of Knox in 2009. Her co-defendant and one-time Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also acquitted.
Knox was sentenced to 26 years in jail, while Sollecito was convicted to 25 years behind bars. Both denied the crime, but had been in prison since November 2007.
The victim, Meredith Kercher's family was shocked by the reversal of the 2009 decision. "It was a bit of a shock obviously," her sister, Stephanie Kercher, said on Italian television after the verdict. Lyle Kercher, her brother, said he was "very disappointed." He added, "In any case, no one will give us Meredith back, but we are very upset."
Earlier Monday, Amanda Knox addressed the courtroom in fluent Italian, pleading with the judges and jurors to overturn the verdict, claiming her innocence.
"I did not kill," she said. "I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there. I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished. I don't want my life and my future to be taken away for something I didn't do."
Before leaving Perugia Monday night, two hours after the verdict was read out, Amanda Knox thanked all those who supported her throughout her four years in prison.
In a letter to the Italy-US Foundation, Knox thanked those Italians "who shared my suffering and helped me survive with hope."
"Those who wrote, those who defended me, those who were close, those who prayed for me," Knox wrote. "I love you, Amanda."
The high-profile Meredith Kercher murder case was followed by the people of Seattle, Amanda Knox's hometown, as well as her supporters in Perugia, Italy. After the much-awaited verdict was delivered Monday, Knox's supporters were overjoyed that she has been cleared of the murder conviction.
"She's free!" and "We did it!" they shouted after they watched the court proceedings on TV.
Meanwhile, the prosecutors in the case announced Tuesday morning that they would appeal the acquittal to Italy's highest court, but that process won't begin until the appeals court issues a complete explanation as to how it arrived at Monday's decision.