. tonight on "nightline," free at last. from perugia, it la, special extended coverage of the shocking overturning of american student, amanda knox's murder vick. after a four-year nightmare, she finally goes free. reversal of fortune. wild passions on both sides as a murky tale of sex and murder reaches an incredible conclusion. we've got the explosive inside story of her courtroom victory and a look at what's next. and space cowboy. captain of the enterprise. >> captain james kirk. >> recording artist.
advertising star. horseman. william shatner talks about the roles of his life. good evening, i'm terry moran. tonight at last the whole story. after the incredible reversal today in an italian court of the murder conviction of american student amanda knox, she is finally on the way home back to seattle. her entire life today passed through the keyhole of the jury's verdict. on the other side there was either freedom or a long tunnel of years carrying her into middle age behind bars. here's abc's elizabeth vargas with our coverage of amanda knox, judgment day. >> reporter: terry, after four years the odyssey for amanda knox and her family is finally
over. the young woman from seattle convicted of brutally killing her british roommate has been freed from prison tonight acquitted of all charges. she is now celebrating with her family who has stood by her from day one and never once doubted in her innocence. judgment day for amanda knox began with the same ritual that has marked the proceedings from the start. knox's mother he hedda and her father, curt. knox herself arriving in an armored police van. one by one through the medieval courtroom's double doors they came. edda, the prosecutor giuliano mignini and then surrounded by a phalanx of security officers amanda herself cloaked in an overcoat. in their final closing arguments knox's attorneys restate the core of their case. the dna evidence used to convict her in the murder of her roommate, meredith kercher, had
been discredited and now amanda must be freed. next raffaele sollecito, amanda's former boyfriend and co-defendant insisting he never hurt anyone in his life. he shows the court a bracelet he has worn bearing the words "free amanda and raffaele." i have worn this for four years, he said. today it is finally the day to take it off. then the court falls silent as amanda knox rises to deliver her much anticipated statement. the intensity of the statement almost overwhelms her. she is shakes as she struggles to get the words out. >> okay. >> reporter: but as she continues she seems to gain a bit of confidence, the young woman described by her accusers as a she devil and shameless liar now taking one final opportunity to speak for herself.
"i am paying with my life for something i haven't done," she said. "i am not what they say we are. i am not perverted and violent. when we found out meredith had been killed i couldn't believe it" she said. "i couldn't believe it was possible. then i felt fear. if i had been there that night i would be dead also." she said "i shared my life with meredith. we were friends. she was concerned for me. she was always kind to me. she cared about me. she was murdered and i always wanted justice for her. i have not murdered" she said "i have not raped." [ speaking italian ] >> reporter: "i don't want to be puni punished. i deserve freedom." she's escorted back to prison as court adjourns and a jury begins
deliberations. outside, meredith kercher's family implores the media not to forget the victim. >> she's almost forgotten in all of it. to be present and meredith in the city she loves. >> reporter: the kerchers have said they believe in the original verdict. >> we were satisfied with that last time. nothing changed since then. it sill is exactly the same. ths that how the justice works. >> reporter: it looks less like a postcard and more like the setting of a murder. the jury returns after nine hours of deliberations. moments before the verdict, the body language in court is a study in contrast. prosecutor mignini confidently
embracing the kercher family. knox herself trembling with anticipation clearly having trouble keeping her emotions in check. >> it's life or she gets to come home and that's a pretty big thing to have on your mind as a 24-year-old. [ speaking italian ] >> reporter: the first statement from the judge is actually bad news for amanda. she's found guilty of slandering her former boss patrick lumumba when she fingered him for the murder during a controversial statement to police that she later retracted but then -- [ speaking italian ] >> reporter: -- acquittal on the murder charges. the jury demanding that amanda and raffaele must be released immediately. and despite the judge's repeated demands for silence, the crowd cannot contain its emotions. the stunning reversal of fortune is too much for the 24-year-old to bear.
she breaks down in court tears streaming as she is hustled away. outside the courthouse, mignini is jeered and booed by the crowd while amanda's sister deanna is exultant. >> we're thankful amanda's nightmare is over. she suffered for four year force a crime she did not commit. we are thankful for the support we have received from all over the world and last we are thankful to the court for having the courage to look for the truth in overturning the conviction. >> she's looking forward to have a future back home and looking to go back as soon as possible. >> reporter: knox returns to the capanne prison for the last time. hours after she said good-bye to the prison chaplain and filled out routine paperwork a small convoy of cars drives away as amanda knox enjoys her first moments of freedom in almost four years. the question now, what's next for her and her family?
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and welcome back to our extended coverage of the amanda knox case. she is free after four years of imprisonment and for her family no exaggeration to say a nightmare is coming to an end. we talked to them about how they plan on piecing their lives back together again. here again is abc's elizabeth vargas. >> reporter: december 4th, 2009s the darkest night of the knox family's four-year ordeal. a jury condemns amanda knox to
26 years in prison for killing her roommate meredith kercher. the family is in shock. >> anger. disbelief on how a judicial system could even come up with a verdict like this. it's beyond me. >> reporter: her appeal has been dragging out all year. a stoic amanda watching as the case against her started to crumble. first the prosecution's theory of motive. >> it became she was killed for nothing. >> because an in italian law that means they can ask for a harsher sentence. >> reporter: the linchpin was this. an independent court ordered review of the all-important dna evidence. you knew it could change the case for. >> you absolutely. it was huge. >> reporter: the report arrived this summer and was nothing short of a slam dunk for the knox team first the famous kitchen knife alleged to be the murder weapon, that tiny incriminating sample of meredith's dna supposedly found at the tip of the knife. >> they have now revealed that a
speck found on the knife was actually flour and star much and said it's likely rye bread. >> rye bred is what they thought was meredith kercher's dna. >> what they found on the knife came bass ago rye bread. >> reporter: the emotional force of amanda's statement today or all of it, it worked. >> both defendants have been acquitted. >> reporter: tonight after that emotional moment in court the immediate challenge is logistics of the return home. >> i mean the one thing amanda has asked for is privacy so there is contingency plans back home of other places where nobody knows that is not in any of our names that we can go and just reconnect for a couple of days. >> reporter: is she prepared at all for what she is going to face? >> the first thing that i think really needs to take place is really kind of figuring out what these four years have done to her emotionally. >> reporter: what are your plans? what are you thinking of doing. >> we're going to go to lincoln
park by our house and sit in the middle of the park and paint. i already made a little amanda -- >> reporter: that's nice. have you told her about that. >> no, it's a secret. don't tell her. >> thanks to elizabeth vargas in perugia for that. we'll turn now to abc's legal analyst dan abrams. this has been such a saga and the sense of a lot of americans this was an injustice from the get-go that amanda knox was railroaded. what do you make of that. >> the judge has made the right decision here. once the dna was discredited, there was no link anymore to murder. i don't see how you could have moved forward and said we still have evidence of murder. but how did she get here? well, it starts with her own statements. some of which were proven to simply be outright falsehoods. now, she would say she was coerced. she would say she was being interrogated for hours and that the authorities made suggestions to her. fair enough. if that's true, then this very
well may have been an american citizen who got totally railroaded, but if that's not true and there was some truth to the statements she was making, or at least she was trying to make statements that were truthful and she got caught lying, totally different situation. >> might have brought it on herself. >> absolutely. you could still make a case that amanda knox was in the house that night. but when it comes to her involvement in the murder, once you lose the dna, it's gone. you got nothing. >> is it over. >> the prosecutors -- sounds like he's still going to appeal. even if they win on the appeal i can't possibly see an extradition occurring. i think amanda knox is now safe at home. >> she's coming home. dan abrams, thanks for that tonight. just ahead, we're going to boldly go where thousands of fans have only imagined going before. we're gogoing to switch gearsor one-on-one interview with captain kirk himself, william shatner. sweet, nutty crunchy nut™.
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as captain kirk, he led the intrepid crew of the "uss enterprise" through 79 episodes of the original "star trek," a show that flopped before finding its incredible cult afterlife but for william shatner, "star trek" was just one early stop on a much greater journey. here's david wright for our series "seriously funny." may the crew stand by. >> t.j. hook ser the name. >> reporter: i for one don't think of william shatner as an actor. to me he's an icon. >> this is captain james kirk of the "uss enterprise."
>> i've interviewed five u.s. presidents. >> yes. >> reporter: but i've never been as excited to sit down with somebody. >> my gosh, what a compliment. >> reporter: at age 80 he's crossed over. his new memoir "shatner rules," gone is the defensively of being typecast. >> captain -- >> reporter: led him to lash out at his "star trek" fans on "saturday night live." >> i'd just like to say, get a life, will you, people. >> the last time i looked in the mirror, i was this captain kirk guy that looked very pretty. what happened? >> reporter: gone is the swagger that so annoyed his "star trek" co-stars. on the comedy central roast of william shatner, mr. zulu let rip. >> [ bleep ] and the horse you rode in on. >> reporter: there's been some famously bad blood. >> i don't know what's his problem. i keep saying to him, hey, you're getting old. do you want to die? >> reporter: shatner seems to
occupy another realm. >> you must say exactly what i say exactly how i say it. >> reporter: one where he can finally embrace being william shatner. >> i just got a great deal. >> we can afford that but why are you speaking that way? >> i guess i'm just speaking -- >> the language of the deal. >> reporter: is it true they paid you in stock and now you're a gazillionaire? >> no, they paid me in stock. the bubble went up, i was rich. the bubble burst and the stock was -- we got rid of the stock. >> reporter: even so shatner is doing just fine, thanks. his passion is horses, an expensive hobby. >> this horse wants to go all the time. his tendency is not to stay still. >> reporter: for shatner these horses are not props or pets. they're an extension of him. >> do something vivid and then stop a second. and contemplate. >> reporter: it's a description
that could also apply to shatner's trademark style of acting. of course, it's a style that lends itself parody. >> captain's log. >> captain's log. >> had trouble sleeping last night. my hiatal hernia is acting up. >> i'm in on the joke. it would be hard not to be in on the joke. >> reporter: but at the same time that's you. >> it is partially. characteristics of mine exaggerating like a character. >> got a woman. >> reporter: it's tricky. on the one hand as he explains in the book that over-the-top priceline character is what led to denny crane. >> denny crane. >> reporter: the aging litigator on "boston legal" that earned him two emmy awards and a golden globe but embracing the caricature has its risks. case in point, his new spoken word album seeking major tom. >> ground control to major tom -- >> so there's a record that you might laugh at, but i don't mean you to laugh at.
>> take your preteen pills, put your helmet on. >> reporter: but i'm an actor and i love the smoke and mirrors and the musicality of the word and i love the rhythm of the word so speaking can become musical. >> reporter: that's the intriguing part. you see, william shatner doesn't have to work anymore. he could afford to say to his detractors what he jokingly sang on "the george lopez show." >> [ bleep ] you. >> reporter: instead he's still boldly going -- >> i have fun with this persona. this horse and me in the saddle, that's me. >> reporter: and more than ever, enjoying the ride. i'm david wright for "nightline" in los angeles. >> and may he live long and prosper. thanks to david for that. now we want to make note of a big new chapter for us here. we at abc news are teaming up with yahoo! to bring you and the hundred million americans who count on yahoo! online exclusive new content. very exciting. that