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Friday, October 14, 2011

Isn't life sweet? Amanda Knox enjoys the sun on her face - and a bar of chocolate in her hand - while out and about in Seattle

By Tom Leonard In New York

A trip to the shops was a simple pleasure she had dreamed of for so long.

And as Amanda Knox pops out to pick up toothpaste and a Hershey’s chocolate bar near her home, she appears to be relishing every moment of her new-found freedom.

Yesterday the first pictures emerged of Miss Knox out and about since she flew home to Seattle nine days ago, freed after four years in an Italian prison when a jury overturned her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox enjoys her newfound freedom with a walk to her local grocery store near her Seattle home

The 24-year-old was last seen being hustled away from the airport by her protective family.

‘I’m really overwhelmed right now,’ she had sobbed. ‘I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn’t real. My family is the most important thing to me right now and I just want to go and be with them.’

She has since been in hiding, her parents saying she needs time to reconnect with friends and family and begin to come to terms with her four years in a Perugia jail.

Taking it easy: Amanda and her friend seem in no rush as they head to their local shop

Free: Amanda Knox takes a walk with an unidentified friend while carrying a chocolate snack and toothpaste

Sunshine stroll: The friends appeared deep in conversation as they walked together in Seattle

Her father had suggested she had left the U.S. city entirely, but it now appears she has been staying in a house not far from the homes of her divorced parents.

And despite her notoriety, witnesses said she was not recognised during her rare sorties out of her bolt-hole. She was able to walk to her local shop joking with a friend on Saturday.

The following day, wrapped up against the autumn chill in a hat and scarf, she joined her mother, aunt and friends on a car ferry trip to a nearby island in Puget Sound for the day.

‘Nobody approached her or even seemed to recognise her,’ said an observer. ‘And she wasn’t hiding away. She just looked happy and relaxed.’

Although she may appear relaxed, Miss Knox is currently being shadowed by a bodyguard and her father, Curt, revealed the family has been inundated with hate mail and threatening phone calls.

The family are keen not to be perceived as celebrating wildly while the Kercher family face renewed uncertainty over the identity of their daughter’s killers.

On business? Amanda Knox visits an office building in Seattle having kept a low profile since returning

With that in mind, Miss Knox spent her first night home with a dozen relatives and close friends, dining on takeaway pizza, home-made chocolate cake and a few bottles of wine. ‘It wasn’t a party,’ said her father.

As she sits indoors pondering her next move – and surely the multi-million dollar approaches for interviews, book and film deals – Miss Knox has had time to rekindle old friendships.

She wrote in prison of how she longed to see her former boyfriend, David Johnsrud, and he was one of the first to pay her a visit on her return, although her father stressed their relationship was now one simply of ‘friendship’.

On the highway: Amanda Knox and a friend stroll in the autumn sunshine near her home in Seattle

The friends look completely relaxed and deep in conversation as they walk

They did not seem to mind the gust of wind as it blew in their direction

The pair experienced a slight breeze and Amanda's friend had to hold onto his hat while they walked together

Wrapped up: Knox later put on woolly hat, coat and brightly coloured scarf and was seen buying more snacks as she took a ferry trip with her family

Knox appears to be counting out change as she prepares to pay for her chocolate treats

Before the end of the year, she can also look forward to being reunited with another ex, the Italian Raffaele Sollecito who, according to his solicitor, is expected to take up an invitation to stay with her.

Along with drifter Rudy Guede, the pair were convicted of Miss Kercher’s murder in 2009 after her body was discovered in a pool of blood at the flat she shared with Miss Knox in Perugia.

Big grin: Amanda Knox looks to be enjoying life on the outside as she is spotted at a Seattle petrol station with her stepfather Chris Mellas (also pictured) and bodyguard yesterday

At liberty: Knox has been keeping out of the public eye as she comes to terms with her freedom and celebrity since she was acquitted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher

Low profile: Knox remained in the car as her bodyguard steps out to fill it up with petrol

Like brothers: Former lover Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda's American ex David Johnsrud outside her home

Overwhelmed: Knox, pictured with her mother Edda Mellas, acknowledges the cheers of supporters after arriving in Seattle last week

Asked how his daughter had changed since she was jailed, Mr Knox said she was little different, other than occasionally slipping into speaking Italian and being less trusting of authority after her experience with Italian police. ‘It’s almost like she hasn’t lost a step with the family, which is nice to see,’ he said.

He said his daughter had to remain largely indoors for the moment, describing it as ‘a different version of jail’ but said she had at least been able to lie down in the grass – something she had longed for while in prison.

Last weekend, Miss Kercher’s father John said Miss Knox should ‘keep a low profile’ as it was ‘wrong to capitalise on any murder’.



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