Amanda Knox reaches U.S. soil after four years in Italian prison

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Hundreds of inmates - most of them in the men's wing – shouted "Amanda, ciao!" and "Freedom!" as she walked into the central courtyard, said Corrado Maria Daclon, head of the Italy-US Foundation, which championed Knox's cause. Daclon said Knox jumped a little for joy and waved to the prisoners.

Amanda Knox (right) arrives from Rome with family members at Heathrow Airport in London on Tuesday. (Photo: Associated Press)

She was soon on her way home, protected by the darkened windows of a Mercedes that led her out of the prison in the middle of the night, and then Tuesday morning to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport. She flew from Rome to London, where she took a direct British Airways flight to Seattle, flying business class with full-length seat and menu options including champagne, smoked salmon and prawn salad.

She and her family were on the plane's secluded upper deck. At least nine members of media organizations were on board below, but a flight attendant blocked them from climbing the stairs "to preserve the privacy" of passengers.

As the plane neared Seattle, the flight crew told reporters that once the plane landed, they would have to remain seated while customs officials escorted Knox and her entourage out of the plane. "You will not see her," the cabin crew chief said. After the plane landed, Knox and her family were taken by shuttle van to go through customs.

At the airport, 16-year-old Amra Plavcic shook her head at the dozens of reporters setting up for the news conference, within sight of the gate where Knox's plane was to land.

"I don't think this is important. It's way too much," said Plavcic, who was with her mother awaiting a relative who was on Knox's flight.

Knox was a University of Washington student studying abroad in Perugia when Kercher was killed in 2007.

In a letter released hours before she left Italy, Knox thanked those Italians who supported her. "Those who wrote, those who defended me, those who were close, those who prayed for me," Knox wrote, "I love you."

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini expressed disbelief at the innocent verdicts of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Mignini maintains that Knox, Sollecito and another man killed Kercher during a lurid, drug-fueled sex game.

Mignini said he will appeal to Italy's highest criminal court after receiving the reasoning behind the acquittals, due within 90 days.

"Let's wait and we will see who was right. The first court or the appeal court," Mignini told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "This trial was done under unacceptable media pressure."

One conviction in the slaying still stands: that of Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede, who sentence was cut to 16 years in his final appeal. His lawyer said Tuesday he will seek a retrial.

The highest court already has upheld Guede's conviction. It said Guede had not acted alone but did not name Knox and Sollecito, saying it was not up to the court to determine who his accomplices were.

Kerchner's family said during an emotional news conference Tuesday that they were back to "square one." Monday's decision "obviously raises further questions," her brother Lyle Kercher said.

"If those two are not the guilty parties, then who are the guilty people?" he said.

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