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Monday 11 December 2017

Amanda Knox Diary: ‘I am not the monster of Perugia’ after Kercher acquittal

Amanda Knox attends a news conference in Seattle after returning home from Italy
Amanda Knox attends a news conference in Seattle after returning home from Italy
Amanda Knox is comforted by sister Deanna and mother Edda. Photo: Getty Images
An Amanda Knox supporter holds a sign before the press conference . Photo: Getty Images

Nick Squires


Amanda Knox insisted she was "not the monster of Perugia" in notes she wrote down in prison as her crucial appeal over the murder of Meredith Kercher drew to a close.

The notes offer a fascinating insight into Miss Knox’s state of mind as she waited to hear whether a jury in Perugia would uphold her 26-year sentence for murdering Miss Kercher or, as they did on Monday, overturn the conviction and find her innocent.

“I am not the monster of Perugia,” the 24-year-old American insisted in handwritten notes as she composed her final, crucial declaration of innocence to the appeals court in Perugia, which she read out in court just before the jury retired to consider its verdict.

It was an apparent reference to the Monster of Florence, the nickname for a notorious serial killer who shot dead and mutilated courting couples whom he stalked in country lanes and woodland surrounding Florence during the 1970s and 1980s.

The gruesome murders, which spread fear in Tuscany and were never solved, were the subject of a bestselling book, ‘The Monster of Florence’, by Douglas Preston, an American journalist, and Mario Spezi, an Italian crime reporter.

“The development of the appeal highlights the fact that the evidence against me is either unreliable or circumstantial,” Miss Knox wrote on one sheet of lined paper, part of a bundle that was obtained by the Italian press.

The disclosures came as Miss Knox broke down in tears as she gave her first public reaction to her acquittal of the murder of Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in Surrey.

Miss Knox, looking pale and somewhat bewildered, sobbed as she gave a brief statement on her arrival at Seattle airport.

Stepping into a room packed with media and well-wishers, she was unable to contain her emotions as cheers broke out.

Wearing a long grey cardigan and black leggings with her hair pulled back into a ponytail and a cross around her neck, she sat down behind a podium with tears streaming down her cheeks.

She made a prayer sign and mouthed "thank you" to those in the crowd carrying "Welcome Home" posters. Standing to speak, she said: "They are reminding me to speak in English, because I'm having problems with that."

Struggling to maintain her composure she went on: "I am really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the aeroplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real.

"What is important for me to say is just thank-you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me and supported my family.

"My family is the most important thing to me right now and I want to go and be with them. Thank you for being there for me."

She had earlier nodded repeatedly when her lawyer asked people to remember Miss Kercher in their prayers.

Miss Knox, who spent four years in prison before being freed, clutched the hands of her mother Edda Mellas and sister Deanna during the press conference.

She had earlier sat with her mother on the upper deck of a British Airways flight from Heathrow.

Following her public statement she was taken from Seattle airport to an undisclosed location.

In recounting why she was innocent of the murder of Miss Kercher, the American wrote that she had “no history of violence/mental disturbance”.

She said that she “didn’t run away” from Perugia when Miss Kercher’s half-naked body was found on the floor of her bedroom in the house she shared with Miss Knox in Perugia, noting that only “the wicked flee”.

Her family said throughout the four-year saga that the fact that Knox remained in Perugia and co-operated with police was a sign of her innocence.

They said that had she been guilty she could easily have left the Umbrian hill town in the days before the murder and her arrest.

Her father Curt returned home without her and said the family was determined to keep her whereabouts a mystery for the moment.

He said the press conference at the airport had been the first moment she realised the enormity of media interest in her case. Mr Knox said she "needed her space" and had not agreed to any media deals. "She has been in a concrete bunker for four years," he said.

On Monday an Italian court overturned her 2009 conviction for murdering 21-year-old Miss Kercher.

Also cleared was her former boyfriend, Rafaele Sollecito, leaving Ivorian drifter Rudy Guede as the only person convicted in a killing that investigators believe was carried out by more than one person.

Miss Kercher's family has refrained from criticising Knox or Sollecito but has said repeatedly that Meredith had been forgotten in the media frenzy.

After a statement lasting less than a minute Amanda Knox goes into hiding as the world waits to hear from her. She was whisked away from Seattle airport to a secret location.

At the family home in a quiet suburb near Puget Sound there was a large blue and green Welcome Home sign and white balloons outside on a neat lawn.

Mr Knox was cheered by neighbours and friends who had gathered at the house.

He said his daughter wants to resume her studies at the University of Washington, and he vowed to fight any further action by Italian prosecutors "to the end."

Mr Knox added: "Amanda needs some time to readjust. She's overwhelmed. I can't begin to describe to you what' it's been like. It will be nice to see what normal life is like again."

He said it was the best day of his life to have his daughter back on US soil. He also confirmed that she had not yet signed a big money interview deal, and no counselling has been lined up. "She's a strong person," he said.

Mr Knox added: "You won't find her."

Miss Kercher's killing is now considered "unsolved" following the acquittal of Miss Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the appeals judge who freed them has said. The murder "will remain an unsolved truth", said judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann.

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