SEATTLE, Washington — A tearful Amanda Knox arrived home in the US and thanked her supporters a day after she was acquitted of murder and sexual assault charges, ending a four-year ordeal in an Italian jail.
"I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real," Knox said as she addressed supporters and a media scrum at Seattle airport shortly after her plane landed.
"What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who's believed in me, who's defended me, who has supported my family," she said in her first public comments since being freed, brushing away tears.
"My family's the most important thing to me right now. I just want to go be with them. So thank you for being there for me."
Her parents, Kurt Knox and Etta Mellas, also offered their thanks, as they accompanied their daughter off the plane and back home.
Lawyer Theodore Simon said the 24-year-old had been through "a trying and grueling four-year nightmarish marathon that no child or parent should have to endure."
Knox left Rome swiftly after the decision was handed down by an Italian court, first heading for London to board a connecting flight to Seattle on the US west coast.
She had been convicted along with two others and sentenced to 26 years in prison for taking part in the murder and sexual assault of her British housemate Meredith Kercher, then 21, who was found stabbed to death in the cottage they shared.
Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who also had appealed his conviction on the same charges, was likewise acquitted Monday in the university town of Perugia in central Italy where Knox and Kercher were studying.