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Amanda Knox: The untold story

Produced by Doug Longhini, Clare Friedland, Paul LaRosa, Sara Ely Hulse

[Editors note: On March 27, 2015, Italy's highest court overturned the murder conviction of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, which appears to finally bring an end to the high-profile case. It's the second time Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have had their convictions overturned in the murder of Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.]

(CBS) SEATTLE -- The welcome home signs in Seattle say it all.

"My family is the most important thing for me right now and I just want to go be with them," Amanda Knox told supporters at a welcome home press conference in her hometown.

Amanda Knox is doing just that -- reconnecting with family, friends and adjusting to freedom.

"We've now kind of woken up and realized that the nightmare is over," Amanda's father, Curt Knox, told "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Peter Van Sant. "Living for four years inside a concrete and steel prison and now being able to kind of look around, smell the makes a huge difference."

Extra: Curt Knox on daughter's release 04:32

It's almost hard to believe that days earlier, her face was filled with fear as Amanda Knox stood up in court -- with the whole world watching -- to deliver the most important speech of her young life.

In fluent Italian, she spoke forcefully and emotionally, proclaiming her innocence in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

"I am not what they say..." she told the court." "...the perversion, the violence, the disrespect for life, for people, that's not who I am. ...I did not do what they claim I did. I did not kill, rape, I did not steal. I wasn't there. I wasn't present at this crime."

More than 10 hours later, the tension was almost unbearable. A judge read the verdict: Not guilty. Amanda was quickly rushed from the courtroom.

It was the end of a long and difficult road for her family.

"I watched Amanda and I saw her slump, and I went 'No' and then our attorney that speaks English turned around and said, 'She's free,' and [I] couldn't tell you, couldn't' be better," said Curt Knox.

Amanda's family had sacrificed everything to be near her, and so did one very determined best friend, 24-year-old Madison Paxton.

Paxton moved to Perugia in 2010, and played a crucial, behind-the-scenes role as morale booster and confidant as Amanda prepared for her new trial.

"Your spunkiness and the nature of your relationship with Amanda, you've really encouraged her to stand up and fight," 48 Hours correspondent Peter Van Sant remarked to Paxton.

"Very much so," she replied. "I can remind her ... that you can be mad, that you should be mad, and that it's fine for you to defend yourself."

Just about every Tuesday and Saturday, for the past 10 months, Madison took a 15-minute bus ride and then set out on a 20-minute walk, to see her best friend in prison. Her visits provided much-needed human contact during times of desolation and despair.

"I remember one time when I visited her, and she just had an eyelash. And so of course I brushed it off.... And the letter I got from her a few days later, she wrote ... how much it meant to her that I brushed off her eyelash, just because it's like a kind, friendly, physical gesture and that just doesn't exist for her anymore."

Paxton kept a video diary at "48 Hours"' request. The powerful entries provide an inside look at what Amanda was thinking and feeling while trapped behind bars.

Paxton video diary excerpt:
"She's beyond heartbroken. She is depressed. She's absolutely terrified...

"And Amanda, she's just like, 'Why do people feel that they have a right to like, make these presentations about my life when I've never met them and they don't know me?' And I just turned to her and I was like, 'Babe, cause you're a character to them; you're not a person, you're a character.'"

How could all this have happened? "48 Hours"' investigation reveals an incredible story of how police and a powerful prosecutor twisted the evidence to fit their theory of the crime.

It started on Nov. 2, 2007, with the murder of her 21-year-old British roommate.

TV Reporter: Police say Meredith Kercher was found partially clothed and had been left in a pool of blood with a deep cut to her throat.

Amanda had no idea how quickly she would turn from witness to suspect. Her troubles began with a kiss with Sollecito that would be played over and over again on Italian TV.

"And from right at the beginning with those series of kisses, Amanda Knox was demonized in the Italian mind?" Van Sant asked Bob Graham, an investigative journalist and CBS News consultant.

"Yes. It showed a callousness; it showed a disregard for this moment when her flat mate had been murdered," he replied.

And if Amanda could be so cold, Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini thought, that meant she could also be involved. Amanda's mother, Edda Mellas, had a very different view.

"It's not passionate kissing. It's comforting and consoling behavior ... because she was devastated," she said. " can tell she's in shock."

Ironically, Amanda's eagerness to stay in Perugia and help the police was backfiring on her.

"She had the opportunity, on several occasions, to leave the country," according to Graham. "Her aunt in Germany phoned and said, 'Amanda, your mum says you should get out of the country.' ...and she said, 'No I want to stay here. I wanna help solve my flat mate's murder.'"

Amanda was interrogated for a total of 50 hours, over four days, without an attorney. None of the questioning was recorded.

"And these are people who are trained to break Mafia suspects," Van Sant noted to Paxton. "Yeah, they break Mafia," she replied. "And here, they had a little 20-year-old yoga hippy from Seattle who thought that everybody was wonderful and just wanted to go have coffee together."

The brutal interrogation ended with Amanda confessing -- putting herself at the scene and implicating another person, her boss at a local bar where she worked, named Patrick Lumumba.

Author Nina Burleigh has been studying the case.

"She's signed a statement that says, 'I see myself in the house... Patrick with with me -- Patrick Lumumba. He's gone into Meredith's bedroom. And I can hear her screams,'" said Burleigh.

The statement Amanda signed implicated Lamumba with a bizarre and awkward line: "I confusedly remember that he killed her."

"I take offense with the word confession cause Amanda never says that she participated in the murder of her friend ... she never confesses to being part of that crime, ever," said Mellas.

There were many troubling details about that so-called confession. But it was all the police chief of Perugia needed to arrest Amanda, Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

"He had the nerve to say case closed, we've solved this murder," Graham said. "That's OK if you've got the evidence."

In fact, none of the forensic evidence -- including the DNA testing -- had even come back. But the prosecutor insisted his gut -- and Meredith's near-naked body -- told him how the murder had occurred: During a drug-fueled orgy. And Amanda was the ringleader.

"Amanda was presented ... as extremely attractive, having lots of sex, decided one night to act on these completely diabolical urges and bewitched two men into attacking her roommate," said Burleigh.

And the world's media ate it up.

Asked if Amanda's beauty played a role in all of this, Paxton told Van Sant, " definitely sells more papers if you have two beautiful, beautiful women and then headlines that there was some attempt at an orgy between them."

To prosecutor Mignini -- an orgy that led to a satanic killing.

The fate of Amanda Knox has always been inextricably linked to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini.

"His world view is evil walks on this earth ... there are people in his community who are practicing occult rituals ... who maybe worship the devil," said Nina Burleigh, author of "The Fatal Gift of Beauty."

Burleigh said that the closer Mignini looked at Meredith Kercher's murder, the more he began to see not only evidence -- but the spector of the supernatural.

"A body has been found. It's very spooky. It's the night after Halloween," Burleigh explained. "... it happened on a Thursday night ... that's when the witches held their Sabbath."

Witches? The Sabbath? It sounds laughable, but, Burleigh said, Mignini sees the face of evil everywhere.

"I think when he looked in the eyes of Amanda Knox, he thought that she was evil," she said.

To Mignini, a staunch Catholic with a medieval mindset, Amanda Knox was a sinner who took part in a satanic orgy that resulted in the murder of an innocent.

"This is ridiculous. This is absolutely insane and it's unfounded," said Amanda's friend, Meredith Paxton. "The claims that they put against Amanda that she was so sexually powerful that she could manipulate these two men who she didn't even really know ... tells you a lot more about the person making the claims than about the person those claims are made against."

But Mignini did not back down -- not even when he was forced to release Patrick Lumumba, who had a solid alibi... and not even when the DNA evidence came back and seemed to exonerate Amanda and Raffaele Sollecito.

"There's nothing in that room, out of all those 400 samples, that places Amanda or Raffaele in that room," her mother, Edda Mellas said. "You can't go into a room and selectively just clean up your DNA and leave everybody else's DNA there. It's impossible, it can't be done."

A bloody fingerprint found at the scene gave Mignini a new suspect: Rudy Guede, an African immigrant, who was known to have confronted people with a knife.

"He was hanging around with these students and partying with them and pretending to be like them. But he wasn't like them at all," Burleigh explained. "And in order to keep up with them he started, apparently, getting involved in breaking and entering."

Guede was tracked down, arrested and charged with Meredith's murder.

"His bloody fingerprint is there?" Van Sant asked investigative journalist Bob Graham.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"His footprint is there? DNA."

"Yep. Absolutely."

"And he fled to Germany?"

"And he admits he was there," Graham explained. "He admits cradling her body as she -- as she was bleeding to death, feeling bad about it, feeling so bad that he ran out of there, carrying her money. He felt so bad that he went to a disco and partied. He felt so bad that he disappeared to Germany, to let other people take the rap for it. That's how bad he feels."

Even with Guede in custody, Mignini refused to believe that only one person was responsible.

"He believes deeply in conspiracies," Burleigh told Van Sant. "Conspiracy is part of his investigative DNA."

Mignini believed he was in possession of the murder weapon: a kitchen knife, found in the apartment of Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda's boyfriend.

"The Roman scientific police claimed they found an infinitesimal amount of DNA on the handle related to Amanda and an infinitesimal amount of DNA on the blade relating to Meredith," Burleigh explained.

All that was left for Mignini was to establish a link between Rudy Guede, Amanda and Raffaele. The police began pressuring Guede.

"First statement from Rudy Guede, 'Amanda had nothing to do with it.' Those are his own words. Following statements he's moving her more into the story -- moving her more into the case ... he gets up and says, you know, 'She did have something to do with it. She was there,'" Burleigh told Van Sant. "And was the instigator."

In 2008, Guede went on trial first. He was convicted of killing Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Mignini told the court that Guede had expressed remorse and later his sentence was reduced to 16 years.

The stage was set. Amanda and Raffaele's trial began in January 2009, and by then, Mignini had another piece of evidence that reportedly had Raffale's DNA on it.

"A piece of Meredith Kercher's bra that had been cut off by the killer," said Burleigh.

Mignini barreled ahead with his prosecution, convinced that Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy Guede all conspired and took part in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

And the press, Graham says, played a key role.

"I don't just blame the prosecutor and the police in this. I also attribute a lot of the blame to the media," he told Van Sant. "...they bought the lies ... they helped create the perception that existed that Amanda Knox was the she-devil and Raffaele Sollecito was her slave."

At nearly every turn, Amanda was losing the publicity war. After "the kiss" came a videotape showing Amanda shopping for "sexy underwear" a day or two after Meredith's murder. Never mind that all her clothes were locked up at the crime scene.

"The public was fed a diet of untruths, myths, rumors, falsehoods, lies about Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito," said Graham.

Mignini spun a fantastic tale for jurors, filled with graphic details about the violent sex orgy on the night Meredith was murdered. An Italian magazine created drawings based on Mignini's theory, showing Amanda plunging a knife into Meredith.

"It was made up," Graham said. "It was fantasy."

On Dec. 4, 2009, after a trial that lasted nearly a year, a smiling Amanda Knox walked into the court at nearly midnight convinced the jury had seen the truth and that she'd soon be going home.

Paxton video diary excerpt:
"She did not think for a single moment think that she was going to be convicted ... it never really fully entered into any of our minds that it could actually happen. She very ideally thought that the truth was enough.

But the jury found a different truth. Amanda was found guilty of killing Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 26 years. Raffaele got 25 years.

"This is a complete miscarriage of justice and is a travesty to the Italian judicial system," said Curt Knox.

Amanda, trapped in an Italian prison, soon had a new, more immediate problem -- a prison official she feared was on the prowl for sex.

"48 Hours" has learned just how frightening those first dark days in prison were for Amanda Knox. Right from the beginning, she was terrified that she might be sexually assaulted.

"This is a letter that came to me from Amanda," said investigative journalist Bob Graham, of Amanda's letter detailing cruel manipulation and incidents of sexual intimidation. She described how a high ranking prison administrator ordered her into his office -- alone at night -- to talk about sex.

The letter read in part:

"He was fixated on the topic of sex, with whom I'd done it, how I liked it, if I would like to do it with him."

"When I realized that he really wanted to talk to me about sex I would try to change the subject."

Amanda wrote that she was particularly frightened because the administrator "acted as if he was the king of the castle."

"Therefore, I thought he didn't have to answer to anyone for his behavior."

Amanda eventually came to believe that the administrator had a different motive; that he was perhaps trying to support the prosecution's theory that she really was a sex-crazed she-devil who killed Meredith Kercher during a violent orgy.

"'I realize that he was testing me to see if I reacted badly, to understand me personally," she wrote. "He wanted to get a reaction or some information from me... I did not get the seriousness of the situation."

The intimidation reportedly ended after Amanda's lawyers complained.

"What does this letter say to you about what she's been going through?" Peter Van Sant asked Graham.

"It says in a time when she was clearly traumatized by...the murder of her flat mate...and here she was being pressured, in a prison system -- a system that at least she should have had some degree of safety, and here was this guy, a senior officer in this prison, now pressing her about sex, pressing her, 'do you want to have sex with me?" said Graham.

Bob Graham spoke with the administrator, who admitted he and Amanda discussed the topic of sex, but claims she brought it up.

Madison Paxton says Amanda stood her ground, showing remarkable strength.

"It's still her life," she said. "And the only way that the prosecution if she becomes some broken, bitter person who relies on the free and abundant tranquilizers at the prison. She's never done that and she's beyond determined to not do that."

Amanda's focus was the appeal - and she soon had a world-renown ally.

"This case horrifies me. I'd like to say it shocks me. But I've seen others like it," said psychologist and professor Saul Kassin, an expert on police interrogations.

On his own initiative, Kassin filed a report with the Italian court on Amanda's behalf. It outlines some of the psychological reasons why Amanda could have confessed to a murder she did not commit.

"Amanda Knox, like everybody, has a breaking point. She reached her breaking point," he explained. "Eight or 10 or 12 police officials in a tag team-manner come in and interrogate her... Their goal is a confession and they're not leaving that room without it."

At her first trial, Amanda told the court just how badly the Italian police had intimidated her:

"I was very, very scared because they were treating me so badly and I didn't understand why" she said with a sigh. "They told me that I was trying to protect someone. But I wasn't trying to protect anyone. ...but they continued to call me a stupid liar."

"She's obviously in a state of grief or shock," Kassin said of her statement. "She is accused, she's called a liar when she denies having any involvement... She's in a foreign place. ...And she's being interrogated in a language in which she's not fluent."

"Now, what does that do to someone?" Van Sant asked.

"She's confused. She's disoriented," Kassin replied.

Hour after sleepless hour passed, with no food, no water, no bathroom breaks and no attorney. During that brutal interrogation, Amanda's mother says, it was the police who first brought up the name Patrick Lumumba, Amanda's boss. They had discovered that Amanda had exchanged texts with him the night of the murder. Amanda's last message said, "See you later."

"See you later is an American way of saying goodbye. But in Italian, it's not, is it? Van Sant asked Amanda's mother, Edda Mellas.

"No, and they took that to mean we're making an appointment to get together later tonight; that's the way they interpreted it," she replied.

"They kept saying you sent this thing to Patrick. We know that you left the house. We know! I just said his name," Amanda told the court.

She didn't know it at the time, but the moment Amanda named Patrick Lumumba would seal her fate. She described it in the letter to Bob Graham:

"So I said Patrick. Nearly all the police officers leapt up, they hugged each other and went off in search of Patrick," she wrote. "In the meantime, I just cried. I curled up into a ball and bawled my eyes out. I don't know how long I cried. I was so tired. I couldn't think."

Hours later, Amanda signed that confession that placed her in the house where Meredith Kercher was killed.

"I believe Amanda's confession is false. I believe Amanda is innocent," Kassin said. "If she was there...wouldn't she have known that Patrick wasn't there? Wouldn't she have known that Rudy was there? The reason she didn't know those things is that she wasn't there."

Amanda later recanted, but it was too late. The damage done, she was officially under arrest.

Three years after the murder, Amanda is ready to attack all the prosecution's evidence head on at her appeal: the confession, the eyewitnesses and the DNA.

"You can't even put into words, as we sit here and talk to you, what it must be like for her," Curt Knox told Van Sant. "I mean, our lives are not on the line. Her life is. It's gonna be put in somebody else's hands again."

And the prosecution would not go down without a fight.

With all the brouhaha over Amanda Knox, it's sometimes easy to forget Meredith Kercher, the murdered woman at the center of this case.

But Amanda's father, Curt Knox, says his thoughts are never far from the Kercher family.

"They've experienced the worst thing that a parent could ever experience in the loss of a child," he said. "You can't even...describe what they must be going through as well."

And in November of 2010, the ordeal was still far from over for any of the families -- Meredith's, Amanda's or Raffaele Sollecito's. It was back to court as Amanda and Raffaele appealed their murder convictions.

"We know she's innocent. She knows that she's innocent. She's not afraid of the truth," said Curt Knox.

A lot had changed in Perugia since the first trial ended.

"If we were to walk up to an average person here in Perugia and ask them, 'Describe Amanda Knox' what would they say after all of this media blitz?" Peter Van Sant asked Bob Graham.

"Three years ago, everyone would have said, 'She is evil, you know, she is the killer.' Now I think you would get a pretty strong number of people who would say, 'Well, perhaps she's not the person that we thought she was."

That attitude carried over into this second trial, which was presided over by a new judge.

"He started the appeals trial with a very clear statement and that was, 'The only thing we know for certain is that Meredith Kercher is dead," said Curt Knox.

True to his word, this judge asked independent experts to review the key DNA evidence in the case. What they discovered shocked most observers.

"Fifty-four mistakes in the gathering of the DNA in that room," Graham said. "That's shoddy work. That's appalling work."

During the first trial, Prosecutor Mignini had said a kitchen knife found in Raffaele's house had Amanda's DNA on the handle and Meredith's on the blade... damning if true.

"Meredith Kercher's DNA was not on the blade," Graham told Van Sant. "Indeed Amanda Knox's was on the handle, but she never doubted it."

"And why was Amanda's DNA on the handle?" Van Sant asked Edda Mellas.

"Cause she cooked in Raffaele's house," Mellas replied, "Her DNA was on the handle and rye bread residue was on the blade, so obviously she had been using the knife to cut bread in Raffaele's house."

And then there was that small clasp from Meredith's bra - supposedly containing Raffaele's DNA.

"The bra clasp, the one piece of evidence that Prosecutor Mignini said definitely put Raffaele Sollecito in the murder room. What happened to that piece of evidence?" Van Sant asked Graham.

"Again, thrown out. Contaminated," he said.

In police video, crime scene technicians are seen collecting this key piece of evidence six weeks after the murder. Using dirty gloves, they pick it up and then place the bra clasp back on the floor.

"Go back to the phrase, 'the forensics will tell us everything about the case.' And it did and it does'," Graham continued. "There is zero evidence against Knox and zero evidence against Sollecito."

In fact, not a single text, email or phone call has ever been found that links Amanda and Raffaele to Rudy Guede, who has admitted holding a blood-soaked Meredith in his arms the night of the murder.

And important witnesses from the first trial appeared to be discredited this time around.

"One of the biggest witnesses was a homeless guy who was a drug addict, who said that he saw Amanda and Raffaele arguing...nervously standing around above the house around the time that the...murder would've occurred," Nina Burleigh explained. "Well, come to find out in the appeal, this guy's a heroin addict...he could barely walk to the witness stand."

"The judge even stopped the questioning and basically said, 'You're outta here,' Curt Knox explained.

"I've heard enough. Take him away," added Mellas.

Things were looking up for Amanda but she couldn't help but worry, said her friend Madison Paxton via her video diary:

As things slowly start to look better with the trial, it almost hurts to hope because we know what it felt like the first time that they were convicted and you have this acknowledgment in your head like wow, this would actually genuinely destroy her if she was convicted again. some ways, it's easier psychologically to be filled with despair - [looks into camera] does that make sense?

"One irony of this case is that the Italian authorities actually did a great job. In less than three weeks, they had the person who murdered Meredith Kercher," Van Sant noted to Graham.

"Indeed," he replied.

"They arrested Rudy Guede and they had the evidence against him."

"Absolutely, but they'd also dug a hole so deep that they couldn't get out of it," Graham said. "That was the problem. And pride, vanity -- whatever it was, ensured they just kept digging."

But Mignini would not let go of his theory that Guede did not kill Meredith by himself, but had help from Amanda and Raffaele.

"So as prosecutor Mignini watches his case collapse around him, what does he do during the course of this appeal? He says that her sentence should be lengthened to life," Van Sant remarked to Burleigh.

"Exactly. It's mind-boggling ... they're not going to give up easily," she said. "I mean, there's a reason vendetta is an Italian word."

After nearly four years in prison, Amanda was itching to get outside again.

"She said today, she's like, 'Madison, it's been three years since I've been able to walk outside past 3:00 p.m. ...I miss walking at night. I miss stars...I miss that so much,'" Paxton said.

But Amanda would never see those stars again if prosecutors had their way. In closing arguments, prosecutors dismissed all questions about their forensic evidence and stood by their witnesses. Nothing they said had changed - Amanda and Raffaele were still guilty of murder.

As the final act of this four-year saga came to a head, it was clear that Amanda Knox was no longer the trusting 20-year-old hippie from Seattle, but instead, a 24-year old prisoner.

"A lot of people have noticed that she's lost weight, there's so much concern on her face. Are you worried?" Van Sant asked Amanda's mother.

"Of course, as a mom, you know she's suffering, you know she's lost weight. She tells you she can't eat, she can't sleep," an emotional Edda Mellas said, "because of the stress. Of course, it breaks your heart as a parent to watch that and know that she's dealing with all of that. Yeah."

Just as he did with the infamous 'kiss,' Mignini attacked Amanda and Raffaele Sollecito's behavior, saying they did not react appropriately when gruesome crime scene photographs of Meredith Kercher were shown in court.

"Amanda was looking down. Raffaele was looking away," Mignini told the court.

"You sit there and you want to yell out, 'LIES,' but you have to sit quietly and remain composed as people watch your daughter being tortured - emotionally tortured - sitting there, having to listen to that stuff," said Mellas.

Complete coverage: Amanda Knox

But then Raffaele and Amanda got their turn.

Raffaele told the court, "I never hurt anybody ever in my life."

The jurors were riveted as Raffaele removed a plastic bracelet.

"My bracelet says 'Free Amanda and Raffaele'. I think the time has come to take it off," he said.

A hush fell over the courtroom as a visibly shaken Amanda Knox began to speak.

"If I had been there that night I would have been dead. Like her. The only difference is that I wasn't there. I was at Raffaele's," she said in Italian.

After thanking Raffaele for his support, Amanda addressed her so-called confession.

"My absolute faith in the authority of the police has been betrayed... and I am paying with my life for things I did not do."

As she ended her dramatic speech, three jurors were in tears.

"I want to go home. I want to return home, I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished, deprived of my future for something that I didn't do. Because I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. [long pause] We deserve freedom because we didn't do anything to deserve this," she said.

That night, the first verdict gave everyone pause: Guilty. Amanda had slandered her former boss, Patrick Lamumba. She was sentenced to three years, time served.

But then came the verdict Amanda longed for: Knox and Raffaele's murder convictions were overturned. The emotional upheaval of her lost years was etched on her face.

Her former boyfriend Raffaele stayed calm, as did the family of Meredith Kercher, who were in the courtroom. Meanwhile, outside, the streets of Perugia exploded.

"It's an extraordinary scene outside the courthouse. There's been whistling, great disappointment among people out here that Amanda Knox has been found not guilty in the murder of Meredith Kercher," Van Sant reported on the "CBS Evening News" following the verdict.

It was time for Amanda to make her last trip back to prison and this time, she had company. Sitting next to her was the boy, turned man, who had been with her on every step of this journey - Raffaele Sollecito.

"They were actually able to both sit in one of the cars that took them back to the prison.. I think it kind of became, 'you're a human being again' versus 'you're a prisoner,'" Curt Knox told Van Sant. "Amanda was crying so much that Raffaele was telling her, 'We're free, hey why are you crying?' was just a very emotional moment."

At the prison, Amanda said goodbye to some of her guards, including one who showed Amanda a touch of humanity.

"There was actually a female guard there that actually put money on Amanda's account one time, because it was kind of that motherly thing," Knox continued.

Today, the lovers from that fateful day are separated; Raffaele remains in Italy, and Amanda is with her family in Seattle.

She missed a lot during her four years in prison...and now that she's free, Amanda is focused once again on her future.

"Maybe in five years, she may be an advocate for people that have been wrongly accused, having felt what she felt," Curt Knox told Van Sant, "and let it be known that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel."

Raffaele plans to visit Amanda in Seattle around Christmas.

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