On October 3, 2011, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stood before the court and pleaded for their lives. For me, it was infuriating to see two innocent people being forced to beg for her freedom, after already having nearly four years stolen from them. Both had been courageous throughout both trials and would somehow find a way to muster up enough strength in order to stand strong while giving emotional speeches to the court. Raffaele was the first to speak. Here is an excerpt from his speech translated into English:
“I never hurt anyone, never in my whole life. The charge against me, it was so outlandish that I thought that it could disappear within a little amount of time, everything could be clarified. But this did not happen and somehow I had to endure and go on day by day and I’ve been living a nightmare.”
“On this bracelet is written ‘Free Amanda and Raffaele.’ It’s a bracelet that I’ve have never taken off after I received it as a present. I think is time for me to take it off. It’s a companion that gives me different emotions. There is a desire for justice. The efforts of the path I’ve taken in this dark tunnel. There is also the desire for freedom. And there is also the affection and the tenderness which we’ve shown each other ever since we’ve met. This bracelet is part of history and our past, it represents somehow the past. I hope it will bring new hopes in new future.”
There is significant meaning to the bracelet, as it not only gave Raffaele hope but it also showed that he and Amanda would forever stand side by side in defense of their freedom. This unified stand was a bold symbol of innocence that should not have been ignored in Perugia, Italy.
When it was Amanda’s turn to speak, she did an amazing job of keeping her composure as she stood before the court, often fighting back her tears, to deliver her emotional plea in fluent Italian. Here is her speech translated into English:
“Members of the court. Many times people have said I am some other person, people don’t understand whom I am. The only thing different from four years ago is what I have suffered. I lost a friend, a girlfriend, in the most brutal way in the most unexplained manner.
My trust in the police authorities has been betrayed. I have had to dealt with unfair and unfounded charges. I have paid with my life for things that I did not commit.
Four years ago I did not know what tragedy was. I have never faced so much anger before. I didn’t know how to interpret it. How did we react when we found out Meredith had been killed? I did not believe it. How was it possible?
Her bedroom was next to mine. She was killed in our home. If I had been there that night I would have died. The only difference is, I was not there. I trusted the police’s sense of duty and trust. I trusted them completely. I was betrayed on the night of November 5. I was manipulated.
I am not who they say I am. I am not violent. I don’t have a lack of respect for life. And I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn’t there at the crime scene.
I had good relationships with everyone who lived in my flat. We all had good relationships. We helped each other. I shared my life, particularly with Meredith. We were friends. She was worried about me. She was very kind to me.
I have never run away from the truth. I insist after four desperate years, that our innocence is true and needs to be recognized. I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don’t want my life and my future taken away from me for something that I didn’t do.
I am innocent. We do not deserve this. We never did anything to deserve this. I have the utmost respect to this court and the care that it has shown. Thank you.”
When Amanda finished speaking, her and Raffaele were escorted back to prison to wait for the jury to decide their fate. As the media swarmed in on Perugia Italy, and the world looked on, Amanda and Raffaele would once again be forced to wait. Judge Hellmann called in food for the jury but made no sleeping arrangements, meaning that a decision would most likely come before nightfall.
Later that evening, Amanda and Raffaele were escorted back into court to hear Judge Hellmann read the verdicts. Events developed quickly and the scene appeared a little chaotic, with the language barrier also causing some confusion. When Hellmann began to speak, many heard the word “guilty,” and for a moment began to relive December 4, 2009, but viewers would quickly find out that Hellmann was not referring to the murder charge; he was referring to the charge of slander against Patrick Lumumba. Hellmann’s next words would cause cheers to erupt throughout the courtroom. Amanda and Raffaele were free.
Judge Hellmann spoke loud and clear when he declared that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent stating that they had absolutely nothing to do with Meredith Kercher's murder.
In the case of the murder (and the sexual assault, transporting the knife, and theft), Amanda and Raffaele were acquitted “for not having committed the act.”
With regard to the charge of staging a burglary, Amanda and Raffaele were acquitted “because the act does not exist.” Hellmann’s words “because the act does not exist” said what Amanda and Raffaele's supporters have been saying all along; the break in was real. Rudy Guede broke the window in order to gain entry to the cottage. There was no knife taken from Raffaele’s apartment, no sex game, and no staged break in. Nothing that was suggested by Mignini and his marionettes turned out to be true. Meredith was attacked in her own home when she walked in on a burglary in progress. This was a horrible crime but not a complicated one.
Just after the verdict was read, Amanda collapsed in tears, looking as if she needed support in order to stay on her feet, with what appeared to be the emotion of the past four years completely overwhelming her at that moment. Raffaele looked elated as the verdicts were read, and in a very telling moment, he received a hug from one of the guards.
Several news agencies were confused by Hellmann’s words, causing them to report that the appeal had failed. This error was not only embarrassing but exposed just how dishonest some news outlets are. The Daily Mail not only posted incorrect headlines, they also went as far as to report fabricated responses, “Unreal. A nightmare. Speechless,” It read: "As Knox realized the enormity of what Judge Hellmann was saying, she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears." The website even managed to find "sources" to comment on the false verdict, "Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that 'justice has been done'," the Mail reported, “although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.”
The coverage coming from inside the courtroom, revealed an audience that was overwhelmingly supportive, but that could not be said for those waiting outside, as that crowd was more mixed. Amanda’s sister Deanna was met with cheers when she addressed the crowd outside the courtroom, but soon after, a group assembled to protect the verdicts. Unfortunately, this group would end up fighting amongst themselves, appearing to be nothing more than a drunken mob taking advantage of the situation.
When Amanda returned to Capanne prison to collect her belongings, she was humbled to find hundreds of fellow inmates cheering from their cells chanting her name. Many inmates hung clothing out of their windows like flags in a symbolic showing of support.
On the day that Amanda was finally declared innocent and given her freedom, it was not the United States Government that helped Amanda plan her trip home, it was the Italy-USA Foundation led by Italian politician Rocco Girlanda and the foundation’s secretary general Corrado Daclon that would help to ensure Amanda’s smooth exit from Italy.
The photo above shows Amanda as she passed through the gates of the prison for the last time, holding the hand of Daclon. The truth is more clear than ever. This case was never about Italy vs. United States. This injustice was caused by a small group of individuals led by a rouge prosecutor. We may never know just how much support Amanda received from Italy. Hopefully someday, someone will tell the story.
When Amanda arrived home, a quick press conference was organized, giving Amanda the opportunity to thank her supporters. Media trucks were lined up, as Amanda’s plane touched down in Seattle, just hoping to get a glimpse of her first steps back on American soil. Even though the local media was all over Amanda at the airport, all three major networks in Seattle did something unprecedented, promising to leave Amanda alone once she arrived home, stating that no cameras or reporters would show up at Amanda’s home without the request of Amanda or her family. The local media’s decision was a wonderful gesture, unfortunately other media outlets outside of Seattle would not follow suit.
The press conference took place shortly after Amanda’s plane arrived at the airport, lasting only a few minutes, with Ted Simon being the first to speak:
“It has been a trying and grueling four year nightmarish marathon that no child or parent should have to endure. But Amanda and her parents, Curt, Edda, Chris, and Cassandra, have displayed unquestioned and unparalleled patience, steadfast courage, dignity, resilience, and fortitude. But most of all, they have relied upon their faith that this unjust conviction would not stand. They have persevered with unusual grace and under extremely difficult circumstances.”
Simon went on to thank the court for re-examining the evidence and having the courage to correct the errors of the lower court, stating that the court’s decision un-mistakenly announces to the world that Amanda Knox was wrongly convicted and that she was absolutely not responsible for the tragic loss of Meredith Kercher.
Simon concluded by reminding everyone that Meredith was Amanda's friend and that Amanda and her family would like everyone to keep Meredith and her family in their prayers. Then came an extremely emotional moment as Amanda stood to take the podium. With her family there to support her (just as they had done throughout her entire ordeal), Amanda spoke briefly, choking back her tears, thanking those who have supported her and her family:
“They are reminding me to speak in English. I am having problems with that. I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane 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, who has supported my family. My family is the most important thing to me right now and I just want to go be with them. So thank you for being there for me.”