Tears in US hometown as Knox acquitted in Italy

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Friends of young American, Amanda Knox, cheered and wept Monday in her US hometown of Seattle as she was acquitted of murder and sexual assault by an Italian court.

"It was like an electrical current going through my body," said Margaret Ralph, who knew Knox as a high school student, after watching the appeal court verdict live on television.

A small group had gathered in a downtown hotel since early morning as the US West Coast city is nine hours behind Italian time. They burst first into cheers, then tears and applause, as the decision was announced in the court in Perugia, Italy.

"I just keep thinking of how happy her mother's going to be, how relieved her mother is going to be knowing her child is free, and is safe after four years," said Kallane Henry, a friend of Knox's parents.

Pamela Van Swearingen, a Seattle attorney who became involved to explore what legal options Knox might have, added: "I'm just so grateful. I'm surprised yet not surprised, just grateful."

"I'm just utterly, utterly relieved," said John Lange, who was Knox's high school drama teacher, with tears in his eyes.

It was not immediately clear how soon Knox could fly home, but the American spoke of her longing for home in a tearful statement to an Italian court shortly before she was acquitted.

"I want to go home. I want to return to my life," the 24-year-old said, just before the jury retired to consider its decision.

© 2011 AFP

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