Skip to main content

tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  October 3, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT

1:00 pm
overturned. knox, amanda is free and so is sollecito, rafael, as well. silence, please. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com [ speaking italian ] there you have it. you heard it in italian. bott bottom line, amanda knox, 24 years old after four years in prison is about to become a free woman. also her boyfriend rafael sol
1:01 pm
eito, 27 years old, about to become a free man. both their guilty verdicts in the murder of meredith kercher, 21 years old at the time four years ago, overturned by six jurors, two judges in a dramatic moment we all saw live here on cnn. you're looking at these live pictures coming in from perugia. we want to welcome our viewers from united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "situation room." let's listen in right now. amanda knox's sister speaking in perugia. >> not only did they defend her brilliantly, but they also loved her. we are thankful for the support we have received from all over the world. people who took the time to research the case and found that amanda and raffaele sollecito were innocent. we thank the court for having the courage to look for the truth and overturn this conviction. we now respectfully ask you give
1:02 pm
amanda and the rest of our family the privacy we need to recover from this horrible ordeal. thank you. >> you heard the younger sister of amanda knox speaking out, expressing her gratitude. we'll hear a lot from the prosecutors and the defense. we'll get a lot more reaction coming in. dramatic, dramatic developments in perugia, italy. amanda knox is now about to become free. we are told she is going to leave the courthouse, taken back to prison, but eventually probably within a matter of only a few hours, she will be released, as well as her former boyfriend raffaele sollecito, 27 years old. she is only 24 years old. jeffrey toobin is watching this unfold.
1:03 pm
the conviction was upheld on a much lesser charge, but she is about to become a free woman. >> she sure is, wolf. based on what i know of the evidence, if this were an american courtroom, they would have reached the same result. this was a very thin case. there were three defendants in this case. there is an overwhelming evidence for guilt against one of the defendants, guede, who is in prison serving 16 years. as for amanda knox and her boyfriend, the evidence is almost entirely these garbled, forced confessions in a highly, highly disputed one example of dna. that is simply not enough to keep someone in prison for 25 years much less for life. this seems like a just verdict, seems like a verdict a good american courtroom would render and she is coming home. >> becky anderson is outside the courthouse watching all of this unfold.
1:04 pm
i think this is the defense attorney. >> that is sollecito's lawyer. we just heard from amanda knox's lawyer. her family have gone back in. they've gone back in to the courtroom. one assumes they'll have a chance to spend time with amanda knox now. you're right saying we believe shell's be returned to prison, but simply to pick up her things and fill out her paperwork. her american passport expired. we believe now that has also been sorted out. she can leave the country soon as they can get her on a flight. matthew chance was in the courtroom and decision on appeal was delivered. take us through what you saw and heard. >> inside was very tense as we
1:05 pm
saw amanda knox come in. she was pale and stressed. she looked like that throughout the course of the last few days. this time was much worse. she was sitting on the chair sobbing, talking to her lawyer next to her. when the jury came in, everybody stood up in the court, sat back down again. the decision was delivered quickly. amanda knox was delivered of all charges except for the charge of defamation where she named patrick lamumba, the bar owner in prerugia as carrying out the killing. she can walk free tonight and that murder conviction against her and her former boyfriend raffaele sollecito was also acquitted tonight has been quashed by this court in perugia. >> the kercher family were there, as well. i asked lyle kercher how they were feeling.
1:06 pm
they looked nervous. how did they respond to the decision? >> very different, obviously. it was a stark contrast. while there were whoops and cheers in the amanda knox corner, if you like, of the courtroom. just in front of me was sitting arlene kercher the mother of meredith kercher. stephanie kercher, her sister, as well. they were very silent when they heard this verdict come through, this acquittal come through. the mother arlene sat in silence. you could see tears welling up in her eyes. stephanie kercher broke down in tears and was being comforted by the person next to her. obviously, they've been through hell in the past several years. they wanted very much for the original convict in the first trial when found amanda and raffaele guilty of murder. they believed there was good reason to suspect they did do it. as we've seen in these dramatic scenes here in perugia, the jury
1:07 pm
on this occasion did not agree with them and set them free. >> we are hearing a lot of sound from around as people respond to some of the legal teams who are making their way out from this courthouse. there are two exits here. we are seeing similar response we heard at the beginning. i'm joined by amanda knox's lawyer. you must be delighted this evening. >> we are satisfied with the decision of the court. we were expecting the rectifying of this mistake. amanda is released. she is going back home. she always confirmed she was a friend of meredith and so this has been a relief. >> when will she be able to leave italy? >> as soon as possible. she wants to go home. she is here with the family.
1:08 pm
we need to go and take her out from the prison right now. as we organize the procedure, she will be in a position to go back home. she likes italy. she likes perugia. she will be back. she came here for this reason. she just wants to go home now. >> do they have a flight booked for her? >> i don't think so, no. i'm not aware and i'm not involved. >> hold on for one second. i need to get this correct. she was acquitted of all charges aside from defamation. we heard sentence of three years. she won't serve time because she already served four? >> that is correct. the court ordered immediate release. >> thank you very much for joining us this evening. quite a remarkable scene outside the courthouse here in perugia. you heard the news amanda knox straight from the lawyer's
1:09 pm
mouth, is now free to go. she wants to get out. she loves italy, enjoyed her time here before this all started back in 2007, she is desperate to get home. wolf? >> as we watch what unfolds right now, she is still in that courthouse right now. she is going to be taken back to the prison, get her documents under order, if you will, get any personal stuff she might want to take out of there and will be going to an airport. presumably she will get a new passport because her old passport is expired. the family wants to get her home as quickly as possible. is that the scenario you're being told will happen? >> yeah. that is the scenario. the family came out. you heard deanna knox speaking. they didn't leave the courthouse. one can only assume because they wanted to spend time with amanda
1:10 pm
before she leaves. we've seen her come back and forth today. beginning of the day she was brought to the prison with a police van. she went past here. she left. after they made their pleas of innocence, they were taken back. they were brought back an hour or so ago. this time they will be taken back to the prison for the last time. >> i want to play this clip. deanna knox, the sister of amanda knox moments ago speaking on behalf of the family. >> i don't think it's working.
1:11 pm
>> hello. >> prego. >> i'm deanna knox, amanda knox's sister. i have a few words on behalf of our family. we are thankful amanda's nightmare is over. she suffered for years for a crime she did not commit. we are thankful to our lawyers and their assistants. not only did they defend her brilliantly, but they also loved her. we are thankful for the support we have received from all over the world. people who took the time to research the case and could see amanda and raffaele were innocent. at last we are thankful to the court for having the courage to look for the truth and overturn
1:12 pm
this conviction. we now respectfully ask you to give amanda and the rest of our family our privacy that we need to recover from this horrible ordeal. thank you. >> there she is the sister of amanda knox, deanna knox, speaking on behalf of the family. becky, i guess a lot of viewers are going to ask what happened in between the time of the original conviction for murder until now. there were a lot of new pieces of information that came out, but the most damning, i guess, was the fact that the dna evidence apparently that resulted in the original conviction against her and raffaele sollecito, that that original dna evidence was tainted. >> yeah. that's what the appeal was really based on that.
1:13 pm
was the key dna evidence. it was dna on the knife prosecutors said was used to commit the murder. when the independent investigators came back in june and said it shouldn't be admissible in court, it was contaminated. it was questionable evidence. it was then people began to believe amanda knox actually might be acquitted of what was a brutal murder and a brutal sexual assault. let's remember she has been acquitted on all charge but that of defamation. she was sentenced three years but already served four years. i think we've got a protest going on. if we haven't, i can describe. a police car leaving to my right hand side.
1:14 pm
difficult to know who is involved with which transport. we are waiting for amanda knox to be returned to prison. we are expecting she will be returned to prison in the police van. >> looks like we lost that picture. matthew chance is on the scene for us. jeffrey toobin is back. let's talk about the protest. people upset about the conviction being overturned? >> we heard cheers of victory and cheers of shame. the shot you're sitting on is amanda knox's lawyer we spoke to moments ago. he is delighted. she had a big team of lawyers.
1:15 pm
he said she is free to leave italy. he doesn't know whether there is a ticket booked for her. one can only assume that the family, the knox family, has been putting preparations in place hoping they get the result they were hoping for today. >> both these young people will be allowed to go. i assume he will stay in italy. he is italian, the former boyfriend, who was also convict fd murder. he'll stay in italy and she will come back to the united states, presumably go to her home town of seattle as quickly as possible. here in the united states, as you probably know, it was widely assumed that she was not guilty of this, even though the italian court system convicted her early on. what was the sense in italy?
1:16 pm
did most people believe justice had been served when they convicted, when they originally convicted her and raffaele? >> not only did they think justice had been served, as this appeal has been building, there's been much sense if this was seen as a miscarriage of justice, then that would be the italian justice system besearched. want to bring in somebody who is joining me now and may be able to shed more light on the proceedings today, candice dempsey has written a book about the murder of kercher. you always believed amanda knox was innocent, haven't you? >> i always believed the italians would do the correct thing. i haven't always known she was innocent because i had to do research. i always said if they knocked out the dna, she would go free. that's what we saw tonight. >> wolf is asking me whether
1:17 pm
there's been polarization in people's views here whether she was innocent or not. certainly stateside there is a sense she was innocent from the start. i certainly felt here there's been differing opinion. people didn't want to see the italian justice system smeared by this. >> i think it's a great day. i always said we believe in science. we act crazy, but in the end we do the right thing. it's a beautiful thing to see justice done. we don't often see that in the world. there will be jubilation and celebration in seattle tonight. i feel bad for the victim's family. every time i see them leaving without their daughter, there is the sorrow. >> it is a good night for the defendants this evening. lest we forget there is a victim in all of this.
1:18 pm
that's meredith kercher. some protests here outside the court. the "newsweek" correspondent has been covering these proceedings. you heard some yells and screams. the decision was handed down. >> i was surprised at the protest. i think everybody assumed amanda knox would go home tonight. the protests tonight are surprising to me. these are italians who are protesting their own judiciary saying shame, shame, remember meredith, don't forget the victim. this was obviously planned in advance in anticipation of an acquittal tonight. >> were you surprised by the verdict? >> no. i think we all assumed this is how it was going to go there was an independent review of key forensic evidence that didn't happen the first time around. in the first trial the defense asked for the same thing and didn't get it.
1:19 pm
this time they did and it was a game-changer. >> there are a lot of people milling around. we are not hearing the same volume of protests we heard earlier. you said you were surprised. >> i was surprised. i thought the mood changed and people realized that amanda knox and raffaele sollecito's conviction were not clean. i was surprised people were protesting. i think it was the fact meredith kercher was a european. in the protests they are talking about meredith, don't forget the victim. we'll see how this goes. it could just be the university students here who feel attached to meredith kercher. this is a university town and school is in session. it could be part of that. >> it's a town that had enough of this. this town wants to move on. it's a medieval city, 14th century. since 2007, of the headlines
1:20 pm
have been about these proceedings and not about the culture and that which you find when you come to this city. >> that's right. you're coming up on perugia's chocolate festival which used to be the most famous thing that happened here in perugia. all these trucks and media will be out of town and they can enjoy their chocolate without us here. >> barbie, thank you very much indeed. as barbie was suggesting, she was surprised by what we heard. emotions are high and maybe people wanting the world to remember there was a victim here. meredith kercher was murdered in 2007. rudy guede serving 16 years in prison for that murder. there is somebody behind bars but it won't be sollecito, the
1:21 pm
boyfriend of amanda knox. >> why can't folks in italy believe there was one murderer in this case? the man was convicted of murder. there was a lot of dna evidence that resulted in the conviction of rudy guede and he is serving multiple years for this murder. why can't people in italy believe this young woman 21 years old was raped and murdered by this one individual who is serving multiple years? >> you're asking the wrong person. it may just be university students who are so proud of this beautiful city and disraut its reputation has been drawn through the mud, as it were. don't forget way back when in 2007 in november, nearly four years ago, just after the murder
1:22 pm
of meredith kercher, under duress it seems now, in conversations with police, amanda knox did change her story a number of times. she implicated one man who is completely exonerated after, a bar owner here. there was a lot of distortions in this case. we have to remember on appeal amanda knox is free. this is not the end of the line as far as the appeal process is concerned. for our viewers who aren't aware of the italian justice system, both sides can appeal to italy's highest court. it doesn't mean amanda knox can't leave italy, but one assume, the prosecutors will appeal to italy's highest court. there is a bilateral extradition treaty between the states and italy. she will be free to leave.
1:23 pm
whether she will ever come back, if indeed that appeal is heard here in italy, that remains to be seen. i can't get any legal mind to confirm she will be made to come back. >> we'll see what will happen on that front. becky, stand by. don't go too far away. if there are other lawyers, other eye witnesses who want to join you, we want to stay on top of this story. a dramatic development to remind our viewers in the united states and around the world. amanda knox and raffaele sollecito are both free. in a few hours amanda knox will be flying back to the united states. our special coverage resumes after this. you name it.
1:24 pm
i've tried it. but nothing's helped me beat my back pain. then i tried this. it's salonpas. this is the relief i've been looking for. salonpas has 2 powerful pain fighting ingredients that work for up to 12 hours. and my pharmacist told me it's the only otc pain patch approved for sale using the same rigorous clinical testing that's required for prescription pain medications. proven. powerful. safe. salonpas. but not in my neighborhood. ♪ [ female announcer ] we're throwing away misperceptions about natural gas vehicles. more of the vehicles that fuel our lives use clean american natural gas today. it costs about 40 percent less than gasoline, so why aren't we using it even more? start a conversation about using more natural gas vehicles in your community.
1:25 pm
[ tires squeal ] an accident doesn't have to slow you down. with better car replacement, available only from liberty mutual insurance, if your car's totaled, we give you
1:26 pm
the money to buy a car that's one model-year newer with 15,000 fewer miles on it. there's no other auto insurance product like it. better car replacement, available only from liberty mutual. it's a better policy that gets you a better car. call... or visit one of our local offices today, and we'll provide the coverage you need at the right price. liberty mutual auto insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? you saw it live on cnn. there is amanda knox being taken away from the court after six jurors, two judges ruled her innocent in the murder of meredith kercher 21 years ago four years ago. she and raffaele sollecito have
1:27 pm
both been serving time in prison. both have been announced free. they'll be begin their personal material and allowed to leave. matthew chance is watching all this outside the courthouse. what is happening now? she and raffaele still inside the courthouse or whisked away yet? >> i don't know is the short answer to that. what normally happens, police wisk amanda and raffaele back to the prisons. i haven't seen that happen this time. there are so many crowds, so much crowd here tonight. hundreds to have come out on to the streets of perugia to witness this incredible event.
1:28 pm
everybody has been talking about what the outcome might be. you're hearing lots of people chanting, lots of people celebrating. it's an issue that's divided in opinion, as well. earlier we heard people chanting, "shame, shame." there are still a lot of people in this country, people around the world, as well, who believe amanda knox and raffaele sollecito were, in fact, connected with this crime, the killing of meredith kercher. the jury today here in perugia a few moments ago inside that very tense courtroom decided otherwise and set them free. >> as we watch what's unfolding and we are watching it obviously very closely, the family of amanda knox is there we heard that brief statement from deanna knox, the sister, expressing gratitude, delight in this decision by these jurors to
1:29 pm
overturn this verdict. you've been covering this closely. this must have been an extremely difficult decision because it is such an indictment on the italian justice system that they were convicted to begin with. although it's a credit they had the courage to go forward and acknowledge a brutal mistake had been made and announce she and raffaele will be released. >> that's right. there were so many flaws in the initial trial. there was great surprise expressed when the guilty verdict came down by the knox family. they thought she was going to get off. when put in prison, there was utter shock. what happened over the course of this hearing is, first of all, the dna evidence, the physical
1:30 pm
evidence that connected amanda knox and raffaele sollecito to that crime scene was undermined. there were independent forensic experts brought in by this court to assess the police work done. it found the evidence was president reliable. there wasn't enough dna to establish an actual presence of amanda knox and raffaele in the room where meredith was murdered. in addition, earlier we saw these extremely emotional appeals, firstly by raffaele to the jury, to the judges to set him free. secondly by amanda knox who was in cheers most of the time choking on her emotions, trying to keep her composition, to communicate the sentiments inside her. she said she didn't want to be punished any more. she wanted to go home to seattle and be with her family and resume her life. clearly, all of these issues, the evidence, the emotional appeals, appear to have consult
1:31 pm
through to the jury. they delivered this acquittal which is fantastic news for the knox family. >> wonderful news for the knox family, for the sollecito family in italy. becky anderson is with us. tell our viewers what they are seeing. we've got live cameras outside the prison. we assume we'll see a motorcade come in bringing these two prisoners back into this prison so they can collect their personal possessions, do paperwork and presumably they'll be allowed to leave. we are looking at the prison gate. >> you're right. i just heard from one of the producers they thought a van was on the way.
1:32 pm
it was a false alarm. that van is on its way. two defendants will be free to walk out of that prison. imagine what it feels like after four years. one thing i want to remind our viewers of that struck me this morning. they were giving what is known in italian as spontaneous statements, both sollecito and knox appealing on their own behalves today of their innocence in front of the jury. they talked lovingly about each other. these were not two people who were going to ditch each other in it even after four years in prison. brigitte green is a cnn correspondent with me here on the ground. he was in the courtroom today as the decision was read out. your thoughts as you listened to and watched what was going on. >> it was remarkable. i don't know if the crowd had been expecting one verdict or another.
1:33 pm
there was an audible gasp as the crowd of several dozen realize ed what was happening. suddenly this eruption of whoops and cheers. someone behind me went "wow." there was just euphoria as the crowd realized they would be free. >> how did the lawyers react? >> the only one i could see was her lawyer. this is the one whose shoulder she cried on when she finished her statement this morning. he lit up with a grin. they conferred quietly when the judge came in. when he realized his client was free, he absolutely grinned. >> we've been out of the courtroom about 20, 25 minutes. you've been over in a throng of people behind. there have been protests. were you surprised by that? >> there's just been this
1:34 pm
euphoria, general excitement in the air. when the verdict was heard outside there was a mixture of cheers and boos. there was an older couple. i'm not sure who they were. they were clearly angry about the verdict, charging their way through the crowd, a college-age crowd, jeering at them and laughing at them. it wasn't hostile, but there was tension. >> the first lawyer to leave the building was booed as she left here. >> yes. she was the one in this powerful closing statement rejecting the idea amanda knox was a femme fatale, she said think of the character jessica in "who framed roger rabbit." that is what she said avenue manneda knox, this character had been painted of her. she was a good person simply involved in a horrible situation. >> as you reflect on what you've
1:35 pm
seen and heard today, what are your thoughts? >> certainly, this is a huge event for the city of perugia. the excitement in the air around this college town. i spoke to some young americans who are here. one of them said, yes, i'm delighted about this. i'm glad an american has gone free. his friend said it's exciting to be here, but i don't know enough about it to judge. the crowd has a sense of something big happened, but maybe we don't have all the facts and don't know where enough to judge the way the people did tonight. >> this is not the absolute end of this process. the prosecutors can appeal to italy's highest court. your thoughts on that? do you expect them to do that? >> they indicated they will. we are probably 90% of the way there. we have the judge will within 90 days explain why the jury ruled as it did. prosecution can appeal. they said they will, but it's not going to be a complete
1:36 pm
retrial. >> okay. back to you, wolf. i believe amanda knox is arriving at the prison. >> paula newton is outside the prison. set the scene outside the prison in perugia right now. >> incredible tension and security, i have to tell you. soon as the verdict came out, we saw influx of police officers. we are not sure what is going on. we do not know if, in fact, amanda knox will enter this prison in those police paddy wagons as she entered it. we see the italian police in front of those prison gates. before then we saw a dark tinted van. we could not see who was behind there go in behind this police van. we don't know if they escorted the lawyers or the parents. we expect to be here with amanda knox.
1:37 pm
we have not seen the vans who took her to hear her verdict. what a difference covering the verdict almost two years ago. the reaction couldn't be more different. here they are ready for her. they have the documents ready. it will take time for those to be processed. her passport is expired. we expect the american embassy in rome to help her get a new passport to get on a plane as soon as possible. >> we got a statement from the state department. the state department spokeswoman saying the united states appreciates the careful consideration of this matter within the italian judicial system. she goes on to say the u.s. embassy in rome will continue to provide appropriate counselor assistance to ms. knox and her family, suggesting it won't be difficult for her to get a new passport. >> wolf, we can hear cheers from inside the prison. that means that tinted van i
1:38 pm
told you about must have had amanda knox in it. i can't imagine why else they are cheering. i'm speculating here. but we can hear the cheers outside from the prison of her obviously having entered, and them cheering her on. she was a very popular prisoner here. everyone said she was nice and friendly. she certainly was part of the prison community here. we continue to hear cheering behind me from inside those gates. >> we don't know how long she and raffaele sollecito will be in prison right now to do the paperwork, collect their personal possessions and be allowed to leave. we also don't know how they will leave. i assume she will have, and i assume he will, as well, proper security begin the enormous media coverage of this case. >> we don't expect her to walk out of this prison. we expect her to leave in a car
1:39 pm
within the protection, obviously, of italian authorities, help from the american embassy here in rome and also her family. that's what we have been told. the paperwork inside, they need to get that official paperwork from the italian justice ministry, that her personal belongings. she can be on her way. it's a bureaucratic process. we were told by somebody close to the warden here she is prepared for this. it takes as long as it will take for them to get the bureaucracy process. that could be a frustrating wait for everyone right now. that is what we are waiting for. again, we are speculating, but the cheers we hear from inside there, we believe perhaps in one of the tinted advance that, did have amanda knox, just from the protection around that vehicle. >> throughout the day, and you've been there for a while, paula. throughout the day, the tension level must have really been building, especially after the court appearance earlier in the day when she made that personal
1:40 pm
appeal and cried out her innocence to the jurors, the six jurors, the two judges that would determine her fate as well as the fate of raffaele sollecito. how significant was that personal statement, you believe, that she made? or was it all the forensic evidence, the dna, which was tainted, obviously, contaminated and very thin to begin with? >> it was so dramatic. during that first verdict that you and i covered almost two years ago, she read from a piece of paper. i want to turn now, turn our cameras to the road. we see more blue flashing lights. we want to make sure if it's perhaps her or her family. we are going to move our shot. to continue answering your question, this was different. she threw away the script and spoke from the heart. when i was in court i could see when the prosecution was
1:41 pm
speaking, it seemed as if they were shaking their heads and were quite animated. perhaps that made the difference. this is one of the advance amanda knox went into the courtroom with. you'll see it in our shot. i'm not sure if she is still in there or if they are just returning. we'll see what happens when they go in. still a lot going on here, as you can see. as i said, i could see from what those jurors were mouthing, they were mouthing back to the prosecution, that certainly if they didn't acquit her, that reasonable doubt crept in. >> that van, you could see the windows are shaded. we have no idea who was inside, if it was amanda knox, raffaele sollecito. we don't know who was in that van. we assume somebody related to this case was there. we are speculating at this point. authorities at the prison have not given you an actual timeline of what is about to happen, have
1:42 pm
they? >> they don't want it to take more than a couple of hours maximum. they want to expedite this process. they do respect the decision of the italian court. that is their job here. they want to make sure anything she has to do doesn't take too long. they want to get her in and out as quickly as possible. she has a lot of friends here. i spoke with an italian parliame parliamentarian here. we do believe the chaplain she has been so close to is waiting to say good-bye. what we are waiting to find out now if her lawyers are arriving and if her family will arrive under special protection. that is also a possibility. the paperwork shouldn't take that long. what is more complicated is the logistics to get her out of this prison and on to a plane.
1:43 pm
>> paula newton, stand by. matthew chance is outside the courthouse, becky anderson, jeffrey toobin. we are here in the "situation room" with breaking news. amanda knox from seattle, washington, is about to be freed of her guilty verdict overturned by these eight jurors in perugia, italy. ♪ [ male announcer ] we're not employers or employees. not white collar or blue collar or no collars. we are business in america. and every day we awake to the same challenges. but at prudential we're helping companies everywhere find new solutions to manage risk, capital and employee benefits, so american business can get on with business. ♪ delivering mail, medicine and packages. yet they're closing thousands of offices,
1:44 pm
slashing service, and want to lay off over 100,000 workers. the postal service is recording financial losses, but not for reasons you might think. the problem ? a burden no other agency or company bears. a 2006 law that drains 5 billion a year from post-office revenue while the postal service is forced to overpay billions more into federal accounts. congress created this problem, and congress can fix it. [ male announcer ] there's just something ♪ dabout werther's caramel that makes a chocolate so smooth and creamy, you don't just taste it, you feel it. ♪ magic [ male announcer ] werther's original caramel chocolate. what comfort tastes like.
1:45 pm
1:46 pm
this is video shot just a little while ago, vehicles going onto the prison near perugia, italy, where amanda knox and raffaele sollecito are about to be freed. six jurors, two judges overturning the guilty verdict for murder within the past hour or so.
1:47 pm
they both are about to be released. becky anderson is outside the courthouse where she's been getting crowd reaction, very intense, i assume. a lot of mixed opinions. is that what you're seeing, becky? >> absolutely. a lot of mixed opinions. i'm joined by somebody who is furious about what happened tonight. veronica is a fourth year law student here in perugia. you were part of the protest moments ago here. why? >> i am very upset with the italian justice. i think the process go very, very bad. this family needs some justice. more important to know the real truth of the story. i think they happen to know who is the killer of her daughter. i hoped the legal process will be useful. >> you're talking about meredith kercher, lest we forget there was a victim in all this. a young girl brutally assaulted and murdered in between.
1:48 pm
you don't believe amanda knox and sollecito should have been released tonight? >> i really believe it is completely out of mind. >> do you think a lot of people agree with you? >> absolutely. the majority of people agree with me. >> why do you think that is? >> i think the problem is the italian justice. this family need to know the real truth. it's for the family and for italia. >> are you not satisfied there was a man named rudy guede who was found in germany and brought back here, he is in prison for 16 years and cannot appealed. are you not satisfied that the person who murdered meredith kercher is behind bars? >> i am not satisfied. i am scared because a killer is around us. >> thank you very much indeed for joining us. it was quite remarkable, wolf.
1:49 pm
you heard the protests as this decision is not a verdict, it's a decision overturning the convictions for murder that were delivered back in 2009. meredith kercher killed in november nearly four years ago today back in 2007, a very brutal murder. the protests began here almost immediately we heard the decision by a presiding judge. a judge who is a member of the jury here. six lay assessors and two judges involved on the jury. they were there simply to guide, not to direct the process, but it was one of those men presiding judge helmand who delivered the decision after 11 hours of deliberation here at the courthouse. they delivered the verdict about an hour or so good. they've been deliberating for 11 hours. it's been quite the most phenomenal day in what is a
1:50 pm
medieval city here in central italy. i'm sure perugia has seen a lot in the years, but i'm not sure it has seen anything like this. >> i'm sure it hasn't. that sitle city perugia was known for chocolate. here is what i don't understand and maybe you understand this and can explain it to our viewers. rudy guede, this drifter who was convicted of murder, a lot of his dna was all over the place at the scene of that murder, at the scene of that crime. obviously a lot of people believe he killed meredith kercher by himself. why has he only been sentenced to 16 years in prison for a brutal rape and murder of which he was convicted? >> let me put that question to a
1:51 pm
journalist here. the question back at home base here on cnn international for our global audience, why has rudy guede only been sentenced to 16 years for what was a brutal sexual assault and murder? >> first of all because he chose to have a shortened judgment. this means he has a cut of 1/3. secondly, it was not acknowledged as the man who stabbed meredith. he was one who participated in the crime. now the problem is who stabbed meredith. >> that is the question here. i guess the next question is this, will the police reopen the investigation? >> i think the lawyer for rudy guede will ask for a new trial because they have to find out who actually killed meredith. >> that is one of the reasons, i'm told, there were protests here this evening. veronica who was just speaking
1:52 pm
to me, a fourth year law student is furious about this verdict. not necessarily because sollecito and knox are free to walk away from the prison, but because she says she is scared here in perugia. should she be? >> i think the people, everybody has his own feeling. we must not take this as something for granted. if you ask more people in italy, everybody has his own opinion. >> what does this say about the italian justice system? >> we have many problems, as you know. it's too slow, too complicated. but i think it gave proof that it's a fair justice. the court had to be very courageous to overrule the first verdict. >> knox, of course, acquitted of everything but defamation. that was no real surprise, was it? >> no. it was clear she put blame on
1:53 pm
the bartender who was out of the scene of the crime. she had four years sentence and she is out because she was committed for three years. >> are you surprised by what you heard today? >> no. i was expecting this verdict. >> another commentator for an extraordinary day here in perugia. >> these two defendants are about to be free in the next hour, two or three. we are watching that prison very closely. through see the prison gate. we expect amanda knox and raffaele sollecito will be released fairly soon. could happen within minutes or could happen within a few hours. they are going through the paperwork inside the prison. amanda knox will head back to the united states presumably to seattle, washington. jeffrey toobin is stand buying
1:54 pm
with legal analysis. more every our breaking news coverage here in the "situation room." food is inspected, perd and occasionally rejected. with a customized mobile app developed with at&t, jet's food inspectors can share data in real time -- so what used to take two weeks, now takes two hours. faster feedback means better food and happy people. it's a network of possibilities -- helping you do what you do... even better. call at&t and see what we can do for your business. ♪ ♪ and the flowers and the trees ♪ ♪ all laugh when you walk by ♪ and the neighbors' kids run and hide ♪ deep inside you, there's a person who refuses to be kept deep inside you. ♪ but you're not ♪ you're the one be true to yourself. what's healthier than that?
1:55 pm
i've tried it. but nothing's helped me beat my back pain. then i tried this. it's salonpas. this is the relief i've been looking for. salonpas has 2 powerful pain fighting ingredients that work for up to 12 hours. and my pharmacist told me it's the only otc pain patch approved for sale using the same rigorous clinical testing that's required for prescription pain medications. proven. powerful. safe. salonpas.
1:56 pm
and all we need to do is change the way we're thinking about them. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks thousands of feet below us. technology has made it possible to safely unlock this cleanly burning natural gas. this deposits can provide us with fuel for a hundred years, providing energy security and economic growth all across this country. it just takes somebody having the idea,
1:57 pm
and that's where the discovery comes from. we are getting new pictures coming in from inside the courtroom. there is amanda knox when the judge was reading the decision to overturn the previously guilty verdict. amanda knox 24 years old. she is in the prison right now, but is about to be freed. we are watching that prison very, very closely. you see her family, her friends who are thrilled by what has happened. raffaele sollecito, 27 years old, his guilty verdict also overturned. there you see the crowd outside. jeffrey toobin is our senior legal analyst watching all this unfold. one of the more intriguing aspects is that the prosecutors
1:58 pm
can now appeal to the supreme court, the higher court in italy, even though she will be back in the united states. technically if the highest courts in italy say she is guilty, they can seek extradition from the united states and ask the u.s. government to send her back to italy. is that right? >> that is a theoretical possibility. i think all that transpiring that way is remote. it's another example of how the italian legal system is different from ours. if someone is acquitted by the appeals court in the united states, that's double jeopardy, that's it. you cannot seek to retry someone. they have a different legal system. that's on display throughout this process, the considerable differences between their system and ours. >> the one person convicted of participating in this murder,
1:59 pm
rudy guede serving 16 years because he pleaded guilty, apparently. he says he didn't actually stab meredith kercher, but he did plead guilty to participating. someone may be at large right now. that's why this young law student was complaining she was scared because a killer could be on the loose in italy. what do you make of that. >> i don't make much of that argument. this is a fairly straight forward case if you believe rudy guede acted alone. his dna, his fingerprints, his evidence is all over the murder scene. it is a fairly straight forward, if horrible, crime. what has never been clear is why amanda knox and her boyfriend would be participants in this. this is a case based, as far as i can tell, on a very controversial, probably false confession by amanda knox. that is a phenomenon we see in
2:00 pm
the united states more and more often. confused defendants admitting things they didn't do, plus bad scientific evidence. this dna evidence was just not reliable. >> also at the time, this is going back four years ago when she was making those initial statements she was being, in her words, pressured by the police. her italian was nowhere near as fluent as it is now. she was speaking faulty italian which could set the stage for prosecutors believing she was guilty. >> absolutely. the issue of false confessions is much compounded by someone who is in an unfamiliar environment. it's an unfamiliar territory. even more as you point out, an unfamiliar language. she had only been in italy two months. she studied some, but only had been in italy two months. you can't become fluent in any language in two months.
2:01 pm
that series of statements she made to the police was always the heart of the case against her. which underlines in italy and the united states, that cases based on confessions, it's always much, much better to have other corroborations. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we are here in "the situation room" watching the breaking news out of perugia, italy, where the verdict has been overturned in the murder of meredith kercher who was killed in perugia four years ago. now the verdicts have been overturned. amanda knox and raffaele sollecito are about to be free. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room."
2:02 pm
you saw the picture of amanda knox once you heard the judge say she is a free woman. she is in the prison near perugia with raffaele sollecito. they are awaiting the paperwork that will release them. our own becky anderson is watching this unfold. we just got a statement from the family of meredith kercher, the 21-year-old woman, a foreign student in perugia studying who was brutally raped and murdered. the kercher family now returned to their hotel. according to a spokesman, this is their statement. i'm quoting it exactly, "we respect the decision of the judges, but we do not understand how the decision of the first trial could be so radically overturned. we still trust the italian judicial system and hope that the truth will eventually emerge."
2:03 pm
a short statement from the family of meredith kercher who was brutally raped and murdered four years ago. becky, as you've been reporting, let's not lose sight of the fact meredith kercher was killed in a brutal way. we don't know why, but we know she was killed. let's keep her memory in our thoughts. >> absolutely. i spoke with her brother who was here earlier when the decision was handed down. i spoke with him as he went into the courthouse. i said, how are you feeling? he said nervous. it was as if they knew that this was going to happen today. they held a press conference earlier today. i can't tell you how dignified
2:04 pm
they were. there was no sense of malice in their voices. they just kept saying all they want is justice served. they did keep reminding people they had lost their daughter, and indeed, their sister. meredith kercher's mother is here with her brother lyle and her sister stephanie. her father and another brother aren't here. i think that is simply because they couldn't cope with what's been going on. they are a very simple family. they were so dignified earlier on. the press conference as you suggests, certainly you just read the statement, i heard there will be another gathering of the media with the kercher family 10:00 local time tomorrow here in perugia. let's get to paula newton. >> she is standing outside the prison near perugia. what's going on? >> a police escort is being
2:05 pm
organized. we are still hearing chants and screams from the prison. we believe that the bureaucratic paperwork is under way right now and that she will be released relatively soon. we see a lot of movement from inside the prison right now. it seems we have speculation how much the italian authorities would cooperate with her being able to leave here and not actually have to walk out of the prison. it seems like they do have some type of a police escort organized here, and that her family will be able to take her away to an airport soon. we have not seen any of the family members come in. not seen any of the lawyers come in. i don't know if that is something they will wait for or if there is a meeting point outside of this prison. >> do we know if there is a private jet getting ready to take her out of italy or if she will be flying commercial back to the united states? do we have any idea about that? >> kurt knox, her father, denied
2:06 pm
that to cnn. there is no private jet. they had commercial flights booked. when we covered the verdict, kurt knox told us we have tickets booked. we want her home for christmas. as a matter to make her hopeful, to make sure they understood they believed in her, they always told her we have those tickets booked. as far as we know, they have commercial tickets booked to fly out of italy as soon as possible, given the time that probably wouldn't get them out of italy until at least tomorrow morning. there could be some private jet. all i can sell you is what kurt knox told us a couple of days ago. he denied they were doing anything other than flying commercial. >> i assume, we are in the news business there are news organizations so anxious to speak to amanda knox, they would be more than happy to charter a private plane and get her on that plane, fly her out of italy back to the united states as quickly as possible to get that first exclusive interview with
2:07 pm
amanda knox. i don't know if that is happening or if the family is interested in that. i do know the news business. i know there would be plenty of news organizations in britain and italy here in the united states, around the world, more than happy to spend a lot of money to get her on a private plane and have a chance to talk with her. that is based on previous experience in these high-profile criminal cases we are so familiar with over the years. we'll wait patiently to see what the family decides, what amanda knox decides to do about leaving italy. we know there has been enormous media interest in this case. you're there in perugia watching it now. there are reporters, media outlets from all over the world that have been covering this. >> i've never seen anything like it in terms of covering a personal criminal case. why this case decided to be covered? many of us could not believe the access we received.
2:08 pm
i had personal conversations with some of the prosecutors. the defense attorneys were always available. you had legal briefings from judges. that was also part of this case and part of the heightened media interest. the families, it was difficult, because i know as much as we did speak to the families on both sides, many times they didn't want to speak to the media. unfortunately meredith kercher's family feels like they had been railroaded by what they called a very large pr machine. this is a family still hurting and in despair from what happened to their daughter. i want to have a look at the prison. we will turn our attention to the prison doors. there seems to be movement. we'll have a close eye on what is going on with those vehicles. they seem to have their police escort ready and seem to be offering, if it is amanda knox, offering her some protection outside of this prison. we'll wait to see. we had doors opening.
2:09 pm
>> i was thinking it's now after 11:00 p.m. in perugia, italy, right now. we'll see if they wrapped up all the paperwork and allowed her to collect personal possessions, books, papers she has written over these past four years. we see that one vehicle on the other side of the prison gates. we don't know who is inside that vehicle, do we? >> no. they deliberately tried to tell us as little as possible about what was going on. you heard the knox family say they wanted some privacy, some time for their family to heal. for that reason they weren't going to tell us all the details. i know what i heard from someone close to the female warden here. they said they would try to expedite the process. if that is her in that van, it was less than an hour she was in
2:10 pm
there. first it was loud and then low-level cheers. she was incredibly confident this would happen. she told people today she was confident she would be doing this tonight and be on a plane home. >> she is being released, amanda knox being released from prison. raffaele sollecito, 27 years old, being released after the six jurors and two judges overturned their guilty verdicts of only a few years ago. hopefully we'll see who was inside that vehicle. we are going to stay on top of this picture. if you want to tell our viewers what you're seeing right now, i know you'll be near that car.
2:11 pm
>> the gates -- we are very, very close to the car right now. it is coming through the gates. we will try to get a good glimpse of who is inside. we should be able to tell if it is her or not. here the vehicle comes with an escort. as we said, we do not know if this is amanda knox in this vehicle. there is no one in that vehicle. no one in the back seat. and the second vehicle goes by. it seems she is in the second black vehicle, wolf. you can see the crowds chasing down the street right now. she has one escort car and a private vehicle, that black mercedes that you saw drive away right now. and wolf, she did not have the dramatic exit on foot here outside of this prison. she had a very private exit.
2:12 pm
you can see without the police escort they made sure she was protected at the door. and that was it. we are going to speak -- i'll see if i can get any interviews. we'll see if we can talk. [ speaking italian ] >> i don't know if you can hear
2:13 pm
me, wolf. that was rocco gionda who was the author of a book and had quite a rapport with amanda knox. >> we hear you. we heard him speaking in italian, obviously. i don't know if you can translate. >> that was rocco who had said, in fact, that she was thrilled. she was very joyful, but unfortunately, she had not, as of yet, seen her family. that was the private escort out of here. they actually talked about planning, planning for her trip home today. at lunch she told me. clearly, she was very confident. >> paula, i couldn't know if you can hear me, the individual was inside the prison, that man we just saw. he was inside and he did confirm amanda knox was in that mercedes sedan, the second vehicle that left the prison.
2:14 pm
we don't know where it was heading. i don't know if i could see inside the tinted windows. could you get a glimpse of amanda knox in the back seat? >> wolf, i don't know if you can hear me. >> we hear you, paula. >> sorry. yes, i did get a very short glimpse of her. they were tinted windows, but it was her. rocco confirmed it was her leaving. >> she is now gone. she is a free woman. she is in italy. presumably, they are going to try to get her on a plane, whether a commercial aircraft, airliner or private jet, whatever. that is the vehicle, that mercedes sedan following that first vehicle. they now left the prison and they are going somewhere. we don't know where, but a happy moment for this young woman. there is the individual you just spoke to, paula. he is a journalist and he was
2:15 pm
inside. didn't take very long for her to get her personal possessions, do the paperwork and is now free. she is out of prison for the first time in four years. >> incredible. less than an hour, the man i spoke to was rocco who is an italian parliamentarian who has special access others do not have. what is stunning to me is the fact he, in fact, did not -- she did not see her family. he did not know she was seeing her family. and the fact she was allowed to walk out of here in a car on her own with no support from her family, which had to be tough for her. i think the image of seeing her leave on her own would be incredible to many people. >> it's amazing she is gone now knowing the paparazzi, knowing the italian immediamedia, will n
2:16 pm
perugia. we assume she is going to be reunited with her family, we assume, very, very soon. very dramatic shot right there. drew griffin is standing by. you spent a lot of time covering this story for us. where are you now? i want to set the scene. >> i'm in seattle, wolf, where presumably amanda knox is on the way home eventually. she may be here at the earliest some time tomorrow, depending on the flight schedules, if as you say she is flying commercial. we are awaiting her arrival here in seattle. >> i assume everyone in seattle, they followed this, they are thrilled right now. are they surprised that the italian justice system moved as dramatically in reversing that earlier guilty verdict?
2:17 pm
>> i think it's been a long, long wait here in seattle. the family has been mortgaged to the hilt. they've been borrowing money for this defense. there have been fund-raisers in this town. amanda knox's high school played a role in that, as well. i think they are all relieved. we'll have to wait and see. there has also been not the great amount of support in this town that you might imagine, wolf. a lot of the information coming to seattle was coming through the tabloid press in europe. it was hard for people in seattle to get a clear picture of what was going on. now that she is released and will be back here presumably to tell her story, that may change a lot of people's minds. >> you spent a lot of time reporting on this story. give us some of your thoughts about what we have just seen unfold. it's really a remarkable testimony to the italian justice system that either they screwed it up really bad from the beginning or they were courageous enough to recognize
2:18 pm
that and to let justice be served. >> i actually dove into this case during the appeal process. when i looked at the prosecution's original case, what actually went to trial and got these two people convicted, quite frankly, i couldn't believe, wolf. the evidence was so flimsy. the witnesses i saw in court were so, in my opinion, unreliable, one of them was a heroin addict living in a street corner, that i couldn't believe there was a conviction in the first place. as you said, the italian justice system on appeal got a new judge, new jury and whole new trial. an independent forensic review of the dna evidence which found absolutely no evidence that either amanda knox or raffaele sollecito were in the crime scene where meredith kercher was killed. >> we are hearing, by the way, from our producers on this scene
2:19 pm
in perugia, she will be leaving tomorrow for seattle. we assume on a commercial airliner. we don't know that for sure. we are being told it's now approaching midnight. it's about 11:19 in perugia right now. it's getting close to midnight. she'll be leaving probably early in the morning, a commercial flight out of italy back to the united states. we assume a commercial flight, but maybe on a private jet. drew, i want you to stand by. becky anderson is in perugia, jeffrey toobin is watching what's going on. there you see amanda knox in that mercedes sedan in the back seat. she is leaving the prison. she is a free woman after serving four years for a murder that the jurors today in perugia decided she had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with. and raffaele sollecito also
2:20 pm
freed, as well, her former boyfriend. 24-year-old amanda knox free, 27-year-old raffaele sollecito free. stand by, we are in the "situation room." mary? what are you doing here? it's megan. i'm getting new insurance. marjorie, you've had a policy with us for three years. it's been five years. five years. well, progressive gives megan discounts that you guys didn't. paperless, safe driver, and i get great service. meredith, what's shakin', bacon? they'll figure it out. getting you the discounts you deserve. now, that's progressive. call or click today.
2:21 pm
i know what works differently than many other allergy medications. omnaris. omnaris, to the nose. did you know nasal symptoms like congestion can be caused by allergic inflammation? omnaris relieves your symptoms by fighting inflammation. side effects may include headache, nose bleed, and sore throat. got allergy symptoms out of my way. now life's a picnic. [ man ] omnaris. ask your doctor. battling nasal allergy symptoms? omnaris combats the cause. get omnaris for only $11 at omnaris.com.
2:22 pm
but they also go beyond banking. we installed a ge fleet monitoring system. it tracks every vehicle in their fleet. it cuts fuel use. koch: it enhances customer service. it's pretty amazing when people who loan you money also show you how to save it. not just money, knowledge. it's so much information, it's like i'm right there in every van in the entire fleet. good day overall. yeah, i'm good. come on in. let's go. wow, this is fantastic. ge capital. they're not just bankers. we're builders. they helped build our business.
2:23 pm
2:24 pm
amanda knox is now a free woman. you see her being escorted out of the courtroom not that long ago after six jurors, two judges decided she was innocent, not guilty of murdering meredith kercher, 21 years old some four years ago. her former boyfriend raffaele sollecito also released. his guilty verdict overturned by these eight individuals who listen to all of the new evidence unfold. there you see two vehicles leaving the prison in perugia, italy. the second mercedes sedan is amanda knox being driven to be reunited with her family. becky anderson is outside the courtroom watching all of this unfold. becky, the crowd still there or are people basically going home?
2:25 pm
>> the atmosphere is very different to that outside here about an hour and a half ago. what a difference an hour and a half can make. it was remarkable. the tension was palable was we awaited the decision to be delivered by the presiding judge hire. when it was delivered, there was an audible gasp outside here. whoops of joy inside the courthouse. there have been protests outside tonight. many of the younger students here in perugia are absolutely furious about this. we've been saying, say it again lest we forget meredith kercher was brutally stabbed and murdered here back in 2007. while tonight this is amanda knox's night and she must be relieved her conviction of murder has been overturned on appeal by a jury today, many people here are saying, what happened to the italian justice
2:26 pm
system? why is it there could be somebody roaming free. rudy guede who was a drifter here back in 2007, was picked up in germany a couple of years later and convicted of murdering meredith kercher. he is doing 16 years inside. a lot of people tonight say shame on the italian justice system. why is it there is the possibility somebody involved in that murder is out tonight? it's been quite the most remarkable day. >> she is about to be reunited if not already reunited with her family. we did hear earlier from her sister deanna knox. she made a statement on behalf of the family. we'll play that clip in a moment. it was an emotional moment. let's play it right now. this is deanna knox, the sister of amanda knox making this statement outside the
2:27 pm
courthouse. >> we are thankful amanda's nightmare is over. she suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit. we are thankful for our lawyers and their assistants. not only did they defend her brilliantly, but they also loved her. we are thankful for the support we have received from all over the world. people who took the time to research the case and could see that amanda and raffaele were innocent. and last, we are thankful to the court for having the courage to look for the truth and to overturn this conviction. we know respectfully ask you to give amanda and the rest of our family our privacy we need to recover from that horrible ordeal. thank you. >> emotional statement.
2:28 pm
obviously, a very, very happy knox family. if they haven't been reunited yet, they are about to be reunited we saw her being driven away from that prison moments ago. becky anderson, as you watch all this unfold, the political ramifications in italy, i guess there will be a lot of soul-searching in italy. what happened over the past four years? a lot of reviewing going on. >> i think the decision will be split. there are people who say shame on the italian justice system. what has gone on here? they should reopen the police investigation. [ speaking italian ] >> this guy has been doing this all day behind the broadcasts. stop. okay. that's enough. thank you very much. >> i don't know what he was saying. he was obviously unhappy about something. we'll stay on top of this.
2:29 pm
are you okay over there? >> he's talking about berlusconi. i'm fine. many people say what's happened to the italian justice system? it could be somebody walking around today who brutally sexually assaulted and murdered meredith kercher. other people say, and this is an interesting point. italian justice is deemed to be good today. it's successful. they thought they had somebody. they went through a whole conviction process and on appeal it was deemed the evidence was insufficient, they were able to bring themselves to the point which they said we have to overturn this conviction. really a split today. many, many protests here and many people very disappointed with what's happened. a lot of people said to me in the last hour and a half, let's remember meredith kercher and her family tonight. >> i want to bring jeffrey
2:30 pm
toobin in. you studied the italian justice system. it's very different than the u.s. criminal justice system. all our viewers know. basically, it's the same as conviction every murder beyond a reasonable doubt, isn't that right? >> that is right. how you get to that result is very different. at its core, the italian system is what's called an inquisitorial system. we have an adversary system with a prosecutor and the defense lawyer and judge as a neutral party. in italy, you have an appeal with a jury. our appeals are only with judges. we pick jurors who are neutral and not expert in the cases. in italy, we had a jury that was partly ordinary citizens, but partly judges. just for sort of a surface difference, i'm sure many people
2:31 pm
noticed looking in the courtroom there was a crucifix on the wall. in our system we don't have religious symbols on the courtroom. >> that's one difference. we saw still photos shot. we saw that member of parliament, that parliamentarian who emerged right after amanda knox was driven away. he tells reporters at the prison that amanda knox is meeting with her parents only a few kilometers away from that prison. he quotes her saying her first desire is to lie down in a greenfield. that amanda jumped for joy when the other prisoners greeted her inside the prison with words like, "well done." she'll spend the evening with her family near rome and presumably in the morning will get on a plane, whether commercial aircraft or private
2:32 pm
chartered aircraft, and get out of italy. if they could leave presumably right now, they would be happy to leave. i guess they'll wait for daylight. paula, are you still outside that prison there? >> i am still outside this prison what a scene here. her lawyers did show up. she did not meet her lawyers inside here. she has gone off to go and meet with her family. a lot of questions as we've been pointing out about what this means for the italian justice system. for amanda knox and her family, they believe they were hanging their hopes on this appeal. not just after the original verdict, but even before that verdict. her family told me they knew their best shot was during this appeal. that is what they will be celebrating right now. all that yelling we heard outside the prison, rocco confirmed yes, they jumped for joy for amanda and said, "well
2:33 pm
done," "brava," as you say in italian to cheer her on. she was very popular in this prison. >> what kind of conditions are inside that prison, as well as her former boyfriend raffaele sollecito, what conditions are inside that prison there? what opportunity did they have to interact with their family and friends? >> they did not have a lot of interaction with family and friends. visitation was restricted. a lot of times it would only be once a week. they did have a good rapport inside the prison. she was with the other female prisoners. they take more of a reform attitude. she was given liberty to sing and play music and go to church and write letters and study italian. she is still a student. she has been diligent about studying the history and
2:34 pm
language. that is the kind of interaction she had. the conditions here by many different standards and include those back home in the united states, were very, very good. her family would like to have had more visitation with her. she got a lot of interaction with many people here. her former cell mate here was just released said she was always nice to everyone and seemed to try and make the best of the time she was spending here. raffaele sollecito is normally in another prison. it is assumed he had a much harder time in prison. he was in an all-male prison. many times they worried for his mental health and the state he was in in that prison. >> he is italian. so he'll stay in italy for the time being, isn't that right? >> and crucial now. they have 90 days to write a ruling. the prosecutors can appeal this to the high court. they can throw out this appeal and go back to appeal.
2:35 pm
amanda knox would have to be extradited from the united states. he is here, he is from a region in southern italy. i spoke to his father friday. he would not speculate on what would happen. he would come home for a while. he did not know how his son would be picking up the pieces of his life. >> neither of these two individuals, even though convicted of participating in this brutal murder of meredith kercher, neither had any criminal background, history of violence, extensive drug or alcohol use, didn't have the mental problems. there was really, in terms of their prior records nothing to base this brutal and heinous rape and murder on. >> absolutely. on the other hand because of some of their behavior, amanda knox was seen by some in perugia as a party girl. they did admit to smoking drugs on the night of the murder. those things played against
2:36 pm
amanda knox and raffaele sollecito in the italian press. many italians have come up to me and made it seem as if these were moral errors and meant she was guilty. it didn't matter how many times you tried to point out that does not make them guilty of murder, it was still a problem. even if you look at the family of meredith kercher, when she saw the 400-page verdict, they were willing to believe amanda knox and raffaele sollecito were guilty of this crime. it's interesting to see the judgments imposed in this case for so many years. >> stand by. becky anderson is in perugia and jeffrey toobin is watching what's going on. we'll take a quick break. this is what happened only moments ago when amanda knox was driven away from that prison to be reunited with her family near rome. tomorrow morning she'll get on a plane with her family and head out of italy, head back to seattle.
2:37 pm
the 24-year-old amanda knox is now a free woman. our special coverage here in "the situation room" continues. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now.
2:38 pm
two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy.
2:39 pm
aspercreme breaks the grip, with maximum-strength medicine and no embarrassing odor. break the grip of pain with aspercreme.
2:40 pm
>> translator: on behalf of the italian people, per the appeals court in perugia, after having examined section 606 of the code, it partially overturns the judgment for december 2009 in relation to knox, amanda and sollecito, raffaele, that have appealed this. the prosecution states knox, amanda, is guilty of defamation with aggravated circumstance of the criminal code, and with
2:41 pm
aggravating circumstance of the article 98. is condemned to three years of custody sentence, and to have the legal costs and she has to pay legal costs in patrick lamumba. and to reimburse him for general expenses and accessories. the acquittance of offense of a, b, c, d and e because the fight didn't happen.
2:42 pm
so we have overturned. knox, amanda is free. so also sollecito, raffaele. silence, please. >> that happened nearly two hours ago. the judge announcing the decision to overturn the guilty verdict of amanda knox and raffaele sollecito, 27 years old. both are now free people in italy. you see this new photo we are getting. there is amanda knox. she is reunited with her family in rome. she'll get on a plane and head out of italy, presumably back to seattle, washington. her hometown. dramatic announcement just a little bit under two hours ago. becky anderson was watching outside the courthouse. she is on the scene for us. it's over for these two
2:43 pm
individuals, but it's certainly not over for the italian justice system. a lot of people are going to wonder what happened here. >> some people think it's over for the italian justice system, if you know what i mean. a very divided audience here on the streets of perugia. many of the youngsters here who are students as amanda and sollecito were at the time of this murder in 2007, many of them are absolutely furious about what they heard today. there were boos outside the court when the decision was delivered earlier on today. what is this italian justice all about? what happened? how could they have gone this far and overturned on appeal these convictions? who is or who are the people who killed meredith kercher november 2nd, 2007. others say this shows the italian justice system works.
2:44 pm
even after so long that a decision or verdict can be overturned and that the system therefore works. a lot of people saying today, they may be right or wrong, but a lot of people saying today because i work for an american network, they say in america, amanda knox's solicitor might have been executed for this. at least here in italy we see justice prevail today. i can understand where their arguments are. it's a really interesting day for justice here in italy. you heard the knox family cheering in court earlier on. you heard the presiding judge delivering that decision, asking them to be quiet. don't forget the kercher family were also in that room today. what a terribly difficult, difficult day it is for them. i spoke to lyle kercher, meredith kercher's brother as he walked into court. some people had said they wouldn't appear in court today. it would be too much for them. as they walked in, i said, how are you feeling?
2:45 pm
he said nervous. he looked absolutely exhausted and emotional. i think the kercher family had an idea that this conviction would be what is partially overturned. let's remember that. amanda knox and sollecito were found guilty of defamation, but acquitted on the other five charges, the two most important being rape, sexual assault, and murder. it's been the most extraordinary day here. it started 9:30 in the morning. the courthouse over my shoulder and it closed out around 10:00 at night. everybody is exhausted, we are exhausted. you can only imagine what families on both sides feel today. >> i can only imagine how excited and happy and thrilled they are that they got back their son, got back their daughter. it's a momentous moment for that family. let's not forget if you believe this decision by the jurors and judges today that they were
2:46 pm
innocent, these individuals are victims in their own rights because four years of their lives were spent in prison for a crime they obviously, at least if you believe the decision today, they did not commit. i want to bring in jeffrey toobin to assess. i'm getting a lot of tweets right now and a lot of reaction from viewers all over the world, jeffrey. that these two individuals, these young people spent four years in prison for something they did not do. what do they do about that? how do they regain those four years? >> you know what? i think the answer is they get on with their lives. there are always possibilities. it happens in the united states rarely. i can't say i know how often it happens in italy trying to sue people. the best answer is to get on with their lives. amanda knox is fortunate she has a loving family. she has people who love her, who care about her. she can continue with her
2:47 pm
education. it just seems to me that the last thing amanda knox wants or needs is the inside of another courtroom. you pointed out earlier it is possible that the prosecution here will appeal to the highest court in italy, which could reinstate these charges. that suggests to me amanda knox ought to take her vacations elsewhere in the future. stay the heck out of italy. she doesn't want to get caught up in any further proceedings. get on with her life somewhere else. >> under that hypothetical, and i think it is remote as you point out, but let's say the higher courts reverse today's decision and found her guilty under u.s./italian extradition treaties what would the chances be the united states government would extradite her back to italy? >> extremely remote. remember, extradition itself is a slow and cumbersome process.
2:48 pm
if the italian government went to extradite her, that proceeding would move into the american courts. amanda knox could argue in an american court her extradition was unjustified. i suspect she would have a very good argument, a good chance of winning. that's why it's important for her not to be in italy. if she is in italy and this decision comes down, that issue of tradition doesn't happen. united states is a big country. there are a lots of places you can go. lots of other countries you can go to. it seems it would be prudent for her to start her life over somewhere else. >> you saw the statement meredith kercher, the victim in this, the young 21-year-old who was brutally murdered in perugia, you saw the statement from her family saying, we don't know what happened. we are shocked because today's decision is 180 degrees different than the decision two years ago convicting these young people of participating in murder. where do the family members of
2:49 pm
meredith kercher go from here? >> their nightmare continues. nothing about this is good for them. think simply suffered one horrible thing after another starting with the horrible murder of their daughter, but it is worth pointing out that this crime is solved. rudy guede is in prison. rudy guede's blood, his fingerprints, they were all found at the scene. this case is not a whodunnit. to the extent they can receive comfort from that, he is doing 16 years. it's not a very long sentence, but this crime has been solved. the prosecution of amanda knox and her boyfriend was a side show from the beginning, and seemingly to me, completely inappropriate. >> stand by for a moment. drew griffin covered this case almost from the beginning. he joins us now from seattle once again. that's where the seattle once again.
2:50 pm
that's where the family will be flying tomorrow. drew, has it been resolved? is it one murderer and only one murderer to the best of your knowledge? >> reporter: that's what the forensic evidence has always pointed to, wolf. i just want to pick up on what jeffrey was saying. rudy guede has fled to germany when they found him just days after this murder took place. he did go to prison for 30 years. it was only after his cooperation, the cooperation in which he named amanda and raffaele as being involved in this crime, that his sentence was reduced back down to 16 years. even that was controversial over in italy. i mean, there is a person now in jail whose evidence was all over that crime scene, whose dna was found on the victim. that person is rudy guede. he is in prison. i don't think like jeffrey said that this is a case of now
2:51 pm
there's some, you know, murderer roaming free that has not been caught. all along it has been this person, rudy guede, whose evidence has been found at the scene. >> it's shocking to a lot of us if, in fact, he was the sole murderer of meredith kercher why he's only serving 16 years in prison. we heard the italian decision that he pleaded guilty not necessarily to killing but being there at the scene. as a result of cooperating and pleading guilty, they took off years from his prison sentence and he's now serving a 16-year sentence. matthew chance, i want you to weigh in as well. you're in perugia. you're watching this unfold. for our viewers in the united states who are just tuning in and around the world to "the situation room," matthew, stet the scene. you were in the courtroom when this decision was announced. >> reporter: i certainly was. it was a very emotional courtroom, indeed. because the tension before amanda knox walked in and when she did walk in, she looked
2:52 pm
absolutely under enormous stress. she was, you know, very pale. she had been like that for the past couple of days, actually, but it was much worse. her family were there to support her. the family of meredith kercher, the murdered girl, were also in the court. that sort of created this very sort of tense atmosphere. then when the acquittal came through, the atmosphere was just electric. there were woops. there were cheers. the judge tried to silence people. the family of amanda knox were absolutely euphoric. amanda knox herself, i mean, she was -- she was totally devastated by it. in a positive way if you know what i mean. i mean, she was crying. she could hardly walk. she was in hysterics as i saw her sort of being led out by the police guards. she could barely walk. she sort of limped past us in floods of tears. but afterwards there were scenes of very intense emotion. indeed, obviously a huge bit of good news for the knox family. on the other hand, the kercher
2:53 pm
family, you know, it was a stark contrast. they were very upset. meredith kercher's mother had tears welling up in her eyes. stephanie kercher, the sister, was actually crying and being comforted by the guy next to her. these different emotions circulating through that very tense courtroom, wolf. >> very different emotions, indeed. matthew, stand by for a moment. we'll take a quick break, continue our coverage here in "the situation room" right after this. we're making tomorrows like clockwork. ♪ for all the different things our customers planned for. like a college education. or, the perfect wedding. ♪ ♪ i love ya, tomorrow! [ male announcer ] we're making them a better financial future. what can we make with you? transamerica. transform tomorrow.
2:54 pm
for a free home loan review, we'll offer them a free android smartphone. but how are you gonna get these phones to our clients coast to coast? it's gonna take a little magic. i'm on it. straight from motown to you, america! yes! helping people coast to coast. give me that spartan touch. [ male announcer ] call today for a free home loan review. we'll offer a free android smartphone to you! one more way quicken loans is engineered to amaze.
2:55 pm
2:56 pm
all right. there's amanda knox a couple hours ago. she was taken away from the courtroom after the jurors, six jurors and two judges, decided after all is said and done that she and raffaele seollecito wer not guilty. both of them have now been freed. she's spending the evening with her family near rome getting ready to fly out of italy tomorrow morning, presumably back to seattle, washington, her
2:57 pm
hometown. drew griffin is already in seattle awaiting her return there. true, you've watched this story unfold. give me a few personal reflections now on what's going through your mind. >> reporter: i think it is a culmination of things. one is what the family is so concerned about. and that is that amanda knox does not know, really comprehend what a media frenzy, what a worldwide phenomenon she has become. the family is very concerned now that she is out not only in terms of the pressure from the media but also her personal safety. this is not a wealthy family that can afford a lot of security. they're mostly middle class. they are concerned about how amanda knox will now handle life beyond this italian prison. so as we await for her to return here, we'll see, number one, if amanda knox will say anything either today, in the coming days or the coming weeks or whether her family will try to sequester her and let her absorb what has
2:58 pm
happened to her over these last four years. >> there's no doubt, drew, there will be some in the united states or around the world despite this decision today by the jury in italy, there will be some who will still believe that maybe she was, in fact, guilty and did have some involvement in murdering meredith kercher. that's something she's going to have to learn to live with the rest of her life as well. >> reporter: that's absolutely right. and the family has been concerned about that as well. there are some nasty blogs as we all have been victims of out there. there's a lot of tabloid press still driving this story and trying to make her out to be a villain. you know, in a lot of cases, we've seen it in crimes. we've also seen it in politics. the first word out there is what usually sticks on the wall. the first word out there about amanda knox came through the tabloid press and through the prosecution that she was this somewhat satanic, crazy,
2:59 pm
partying teen who came over there and participated in a sex orgy turned bad. that has stuck with a lot of people for a long, long time. that's what the family is concerned about. that amanda knox will have to live with that hanging over her head regardless of what this appeals court has decided today. >> until the very, very end, indeed, just before the jurors made their decision today, a dramatic decision, the prosecutors were not only asking that she and raffaele remain in prison, they were asking, actually, that those prison sentences of 26, 27 years be increased. they were so convinced in their theory that they were involved directly in the case. drew, i want you to stand by. because cnn, of course, is going to continue its coverage of all of this. but a very, very dramatic day in perugia, italy, as we now know that amanda knox is a free woman, 24 years old, and raffaele sollecito is a free man, 27 years old. i'm wolf