tv CNN Newsroom CNN October 9, 2011 1:00am-1:59am PDT
>> and in italy, a british exchange student raped and murdered in her room. >> it was horrible. the young lady bled to death. >> amanda knox, her american roommate is charged with the crime. >> my husband called me and said they've arrested amanda. >> a media frenzy. >> can we just get by. >> rife are tales of cover-ups and sex games turned deadly all centered around the beautiful young student dubbed foxy knoxy by the tabloids. now in a dramatic turn of events, amanda knox is free after being convicted of murder abroad.
>> amanda knox is now back home here in seattle after spending nearly four years in an italian prison. she was released after appealing her murder conviction. but she remains haunted by the nightmare that began to unfold when she was just a young student. >> amanda knox was going into her junior year of college. her mother etta recalls amanda the fresh-faced 20-year-old intent on adventure. >> she was going to study an broutd, going into college somewhere. she didn't know where yet. >> amanda would decide on perugia,ity la. her sister deanna remembers when she moved into this house which she shared with three other girls, two italians and one british constituent named meredith kercher. >> why was she so set on that apartment. >> i think it's because of the people really.
it was close to the college and her roommates are the sweetest people in the world. >> but after only six weeks in italy, on the night of november 1st, 2007, amanda's overseas adventure would take a bizarre turn. amanda claims she slept over with her boyfriend rafael so see that night. according to her, they cooked dinner at his house, smoked hashish and made love. on that same night, meredith kercher returned to the home she shared with amanda after watching a movie with friends. sometime between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, a witness living in these apartments across the street claimed to hear a scream. and multiple footsteps running away from the house in opposite directions. the next day, knox says she returned home to shower and change clothes. then she noticed something was wrong.
one roommate's room was turned upside down. a rock on the floor and a broken window. meredith kercher's door was locked and she wasn't answering her cell phone. >> i got the phone calls about when she came to her house, and amanda kept saying i can't get ahold of meredith. her door's locked. there was lots of concern and i said okay, you know, call the police. and then she did, and you know, the police came and then they had actually one of the other roommates' boyfriends broke down the door because the police wouldn't do it. >> behind meredith's bedroom door was her body. covered by a blanket. blood everywhere. meredith had been sexually assaulted, stabbed and slashed in the neck. a bloody hand print left on the wall, bloody footprints on floor. as police began to process the crime scene, suspicion soon began to fall upon amanda.
partly due to what police believed was a faked forced entry through the window. observers also thought amanda's behavior was odd. she and rafaelle stayed in the living room while the others broke into meredith's room. francesco more res ca is an attorney hired by the victim's family. he says amanda's behavior was enough to make her a suspect. >> the famous behavior of amanda knox cannot be justifiable if we will compare it to the way normal people behave. >> in this video, amanda and her boyfriend comfort each other outside the house. but at the police station, witnesses say they laughed and made faces, heightening suspicions about them. to amanda knox and rafael little sollecito, the police station wos become all too familiar over the coming days. her far kirk recalls the week after the grisly discovery.
>> between the time that they will actually found meredith and when the amanda was arrested, there was roughly a 90-hour time frame and i'm ballparking the numbers there. during that time, amanda was in the police station for questioning for i believe it was 52 hours. >> as the days passed, the interrogations became longer and more intense. without a lawyer, amanda continued to talk to the police. a decision her mother regrets to this day. >> you know, would have, could have, should have, i should have insisted that she leave the country. i should have insisted that she not talk to anybody. i should have gotten her a lawyer immediately. >> meanwhile, media interest surrounding crime began to surge. information was leaked to the press almost daily. reports stating the victim knew her killer or even, a woman
committed the crime went viral. soon, articles were reporting that meredith kercher was the victim of a sex game gone wrong. >> in italy, you could make up a story or you could say you heard it from some guy that was laying in a ditch and it could be, you could write the story and all of a sudden, it goes viral. >> as the media circus grew, so did the pressure on police to solve the case. on the night of november 5th, the police interrogated amanda all night and into the next morning. it was during this session amanda confessed she was at the house that night, her boss patrick la mum ba was there, as well. at that point, amanda knox officially ceased to be a witness. she became the suspect. the police held a press conference later that day announcing to the world they had solved the crime, case closed. according to police, meredith
kercher had been killed because she would not take part in a sex game, a sex game orchestrated by amanda knox, her boyfriend rafaelle and patrick lamumba. >> translator: i've always said that this is a crime that was born of succession. it was step by step. there was no planning. >> all three were arrested and charged with murder, but the tabloid press turned their attention to one of the accused in particular. amanda. when the papers hit newstands the next day, foxy knoxy would be all over the front page. in the weeks and months that followed their arrests, new evidence would emerge, a knife found in raphaelly's apartment, both amanda's and meredith's dna on it. meredith's bra clasp tested positive for rafael's dna. a homeless man came forward caming to have seen the couple near the house on the night of the murder.
>> we kept thinking, oh, this is a big mistake. it will get cleared up and got really weird with the trial and it kept going and going and going. >> the world was captivated. two attractive young women, one accused of killing the other. so what really did happen to meredith kercher and is amanda knox guilty of murder? for the next hour, forget everything you know. coffee doesn't have vitamins... unless you want it to. new splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweetener with b vitamins, the first and only one to help support a healthy metabolism. three smart new ways to sweeten. same great taste. new splenda® essentials™.
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thing. >> reporter: to know the real foxy knoxy, you have to go back to amanda's hometown. seattle, washington. >> amanda was born here in seattle in the summer of 1987, the day before i turned 25. so our birthdays are one day apart. >> born into a middle class family, her mother a school teacher, her father an accountant, divorced when amanda and her sister were still very young. >> and so growing up, it was i spent majority of my time with my mom. it was every other weekend that me and amanda went to our dad's. >> always active, amanda earned her nickname, foxy knoxy at a young age and not from where you might have thought. >> and soccer is where she earned that nickname that's come back to haunt her. >> oh, yeah, at the age of 8, the 8-year-olds who don't know anything but call each other all kinds of funny nick napes gave
her foxy knoxy. >> she was not a typical teenager. amanda was driven and focused. unlike most eighth graders, amanda wanted an academic challenge. so for high school, she chose seattle prep. a prestigious private school that her parents could not afford. >> amanda was scholarshiped out to seattle prep. so it's not like she was given a silver spoon or anything by any means. >> chris johnson an english teacher at seattle prep, recalls a girl who was different from her classmates. >> she was so diligent that she signed up for an extra english class at a time when she could have had a free period, she took an extra class so she stood out. >> and as for boys. >> did she have many serious boyfriends before? >> no. she was definitely a very late bloomer. i don't even remember a boyfriend till college. >> she knew very early on that she wanted to see the world. >> i think amanda started talking even in middle school
about wanting to travel and to see different places. >> reporter: amanda would take her love of adventure to the university of washington where she would major in linguistics, her friend, and drew, describes a woman open to the world. >> i think it was her just open personality to you know see the good things in people and have always a positive attitude about everybody and everything in the world. >> in college, amanda knew she wanted to spend a year abroad, but to do that, she would have to raise money that her parents did not have. >> how did she do it. >> she had to save $10,000. she lived extremely frugally and i mean spent no money on anything. and then worked several jobs at a time, numerous jobs at a time,
saved every penny. >> amanda chose to study in perugia, italy, a small town in the center of the country. in the late summer of 2007, amanda and her sister deanna traveled there to get her settled. on the very first day in town, deanna found amanda a place to live. >> we were walking around, and the first thing amanda did, of course, was go down to her university. so we walked down there, and she went inside and i sat outside. and this girl came up and was right next to where i was overt said, all i could read because i don't speak italian was apartmento. >> and that was the apartment? >> uh-huh, that was it. >> once settled in perujia, amanda seemed to be living her dream. >> the first pictures she ever sent me were of the little house that she had found. and i was kind of looking at her going you have that kind of a
view out of your backyard? and it was really you know, i was very happy for her. >> and just eight days before meredith's murder, amanda met a boy. an italian student named raf fell lay sollecito. >> was she falling in love? i thought she sounded like a girl who was definitely very infasiated with this young man who was showing her around. they went over to asisi. so yeah, there was definitely a big infatuation there. i don't think they had time to fall in love by the time they were arrested. >> amanda knox devoted daughter, student, lover? >> according to this man, murderer. >> is amanda knox evil? almost immediately after police say she confessed to her crime, amanda knox recants. she tells her parents she broke moisturizing lotion. the natural oatmeal formula improves skin's health in one day, with significant improvement in 2 weeks. i found a moisturizer for life. [ female announcer ] only from aveeno.
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almost immediately after police say she confessed to her crime, amanda knox recants. she tells her parents she broke under stress. in court she would tell jurors how a police officer struck her from behind, how she was denied water, food, a translator and how she says under pressure by police, she was asked repeatedly to dream up, imagine scenarios for how it could have happened. this spring, cnn traveled to perugia, italy, to sit down with the lead prosecutor of amanda knox.
for three that juliano ma knee knee answered our questions and his critics that he prosecuted knox with little evidence, that he played on emotions and rumor rather than facts, and lynchpin of his case, the so-called confession of amanda knox was coerced out of a frightened college student. >> nobody hit her? >> translator: no, absolutely not. >> was she asked to imagine scenarios? so she's lying? >> translator: absolutely. you either see the person or not. i can't ask a person what he or she imagines. this question would make no sense. >> that's not all that wouldn't make sense because it turns out virtually everything amanda knox told her interrogators the night of her so-called confession was a lie. amanda knox in this statement told police she was in the house
the night of the murder and saw her boss, nightclub owner patrick lumumba, and meredith kercher go into meredith's room, and she heard screams. amanda's statement adds, "i am very confused. i imagined what could have happened." police apparently didn't bother to check the facts about lumumba. they immediately arrested amanda knox, raffaello sollecito and patrick lumumba for the murder of meredith kercher. ma knee knee and police announcing to the public, case solved. giuliano mignini admitted to us, even without any evidence, he knew almost the moment he arrived and laid eyes on amanda knox and rafaelle sollecito, they were involved in the murder. prior to the forensic investigation, prior to everything really, your intuition or your detective knowledge led you to amanda knox and raffaello sollecito? >> translator: after the first few weeks, we were convinced because of the behavior of the
two people and especially amanda that they were both involved in a crime. >> but almost immediately after the arrests, mignini had a problem. the third suspect patrick lumumba had an airtight alibi. he was in his crowded bar that night. he could not have been involved. then the actual forensic tests came back. >> when i looked at it, i was horrified. >> greg hampikian is a forensic biologist at boise state university and director of idaho's innocence project. he also was working with the knox defense team. he says italian investigators did a good job processing the crime scene, collected excellent evidence, but clung to shakier evidence that proved their theory, a classic error, he says, a prosecutor who trusted his gut feeling instead of the
science that at that time was pointing to another suspect. >> they didn't like the way amanda behaved, whatever that means, and so they wanted to investigate her and raffaello and her boss. when the dna is finally processed, it's not any of their suspects. so what do you do? what would you do? you let them go. >> as patrick lumumba was being released from jail, investigators analyzing the bloody evidence left at the crime scene found an entirely n? rudy guede, a known petty criminal from the ivory who fled to germany shortly after the murder. it turns out guede's handprint made in meredith kercher's own blood was found in the victim's room. guede's dna found inside the victim's body in her vagina. his dna on her clothing, on his -- her purse, his feces even
the hall and something else. guede didn't even know raffaello >> knowing all of that and when germany back to italy, we thought, thank god, this is over. >> it wasn't. prosecutor mignini simply swapped suspects. amanda knox, raffaello sollecito and now rudy guede had come to meredith kercher hoping to include her in an orgy. when kercher refused, they pulled out knives and killed her. juliano would stick to his instincts despite the forensic evidence. you were fixated, according to the defense, on amanda knox and raffaello sollecito and kept imaging new scenarios that made these two people guilty. >> translator: no, absolutely not. i did what i did because i was
convinced given the evidence that had been gathered that they were responsible. i am absolutely convinced. >> rudy guede, the african drifter, was quickly convicted and sent to prison, implicating amanda and raffaello after which his sentence was reduced. in 2009, mignini would bring his case against amanda knox and her boyfriend to trial.
from the cnn world headquarters in atlanta, here are your headlines this hour. republican presidential candidate ron paul has won the values voter summit straw poll. the gathering of social conservatives in washington gave paul a solid victory over his party rivals. paul got 37% of the vote. cain finished with 23% and rick santorum came in third with 16%. 99%. >> anti-corporate anger keeps spreading. "occupy wall street" demonstrations have now been held in more than a dozen cities across the country, including chicago, philadelphia, and austin, texas. protesters are taking on a number of issues, including income disparities and corporate greed. the pro football world is mourning a legend tonight. long-time oakland raiders owner al davis has died. he began coaching the raiders in 1963 ran took ownership of the team beginning in 1966. the raiders won three super
bowls under his leadership. no cause of death has been released but he had been in declining health recently. he was 82 years old. those are your headlines this hour. i'm don lemon. you're watching cnn, the most trusted name in news. one of italy's most notorious murder trials. the case against amanda knox and her boyfriend was getting under way. basing his case mainly on circumstantial evidence, the prosecutor, giuliano mignini would begin to present witnesses, one who claims to have seen the couple near the home the night of the murder. two others would come forward
saying they heard a scream. one of them also hearing footsteps running in different directions. but mignini now would also present scientific evidence he said, problems amanda and rafaelle's guilt. two dna samples. rafaelle's skin cells on meredith's bra clasp collected 46 days after police first showed up at the murder. and what one expert called an inconclusive sample of what could have been meredith's dna found on a knife collected at rafaelle's apartment. on the handle of the knife, amanda's dna. according to prosecutor mignini, because the victim had never been to rafaelle's apartment, the knife must be the murder weapon. but tests for blood on the knife turned up negative. prosecutors explained it's because the knife had been wiped clean. forensic expert greg hamp el inian finding dna but no blood
makes it highly unlikely it was used in a bloody murder. he also says it's surprising the prosecutor was allowed to admit such a small sample as evidence. >> would this have made it into a u.s. court? i don't think this would have made it on to a u.s. lab report. >> what also made it into court was amanda's so-called confession. in a quirk of italian law, the confession was thrown out of the criminal case against knox but jurors heard it anyway. as part of a civil case being tried simultaneously. in court, jurors heard mignini's evidence of guilt. then when they went home each night, they heard the news from a tabloid press gone wild. sensational headlines about the murder suspect dubbed foxy knoxy were ramp and the, completely fabricated stories of how amanda
knox engaged in sexual orgies, satanic rituals, how she bought bleach to clean up the crime scene. all of it according to the prosecutor himself lies. with no conclusive evidence their daughter was guilty, the knox family would enter the courtroom just after midnight on saturday december 5th, 2009, believing prosecutors had simply not proved the case. the jury had deliberated for 13 hours. in a moment that haunts them to this day, curt knox heard the verdict in italian. guilty. >> these two kids were innocent. and to have them you know say guilty, it was just kev stating. it was literally devastating and you know, i mean literally the people that were in the courtroom went kind of like, oh. >> doug preston is a best selling author who dreams up chilling murder plots in his writing shack on the cold coast
of maine. 11 years ago he had an idea to write a chilling tale, but in a warmer location. >> i moved to italy to write a novel, and we rented a house in the tuscan hills just outside of florence. >> his research began with trying to learn about the italian justice system. teaming up with an old italian crime reporter named mario spezi, he soon was intrigued about a serial killer italy had yet to catch. the monster of florence who killed eight couples from 1968 to 1985, then vanished. >> when you are a novelist, you are just making things up. but this was real. >> preston would quickly abandon his work of fiction for the real thing and began to learn how the monster targeted young lovers engaging in sex, mostly in cars in the hills above florence, killing first the man and then dragging the woman out of the car, mutilating and removing her
genitals. for 17 years always using the same gun, the same knife, killing again and again as police failed to solve the case. >> yes, again and again the police arrested innocent people, interrogated them brutally, thought that they had extracted all kinds of really important confessions from them. >> preston says with the suspects in custody, the monster would kill again. police chased wild theories of a satanic cult. preston and spezi began to write of a lone killer and terrible police work. >> the book, you know, to be honest really criticized their investigation very thoroughly, and it wasn't just criticism. it presented irrefutable evidence that the police were on the wrong track. >> before the book could even be released, police focused their attention on the authors. mario spezi's villa was raided, his notes confiscated and the journalist placed under arrest, though later released without charges.
police surmised spezi knew so much about the killer that he just might be the killer. then preston's phone rang. >> i thought it was a joke. then they said, no, mr. preston, this is not a joke. we are coming to get you. this is obligatory. you tell us where you are. that will save everyone a lot of trouble. >> preston would find himself at the door of the prosecutor's office here in perugia where he thought he would spend a few minutes answering just a few questions. >> i had never understood how brutal, psychologically brutal an interrogation is. you feel absolutely helpless. >> and the chief interrogator was and is? >> giuliano mignini, this prosecutor who -- let me tell you something, he knows exactly what he's doing. giuliano mignini was the prosecutor for both the monster and the amanda knox cases.
just like during amanda's interrogation, an preston also says he was asked to imagine scenarios of how the crime could have occurred. >> i was terrified. i thought, these people have the power to put me in jail for the rest of my life. >> preston says he was questioned for two hours. he left the meeting and wrote everything down, including the time he went in and the time he left. which is why giuliano mignini's recollection of that meeting with preston is so puzzling. >> translator: it lasted about 20 minutes. no more than that. and it was the first time i had met preston. around 20 minutes. >> i interviewed doug preston, and that is just not true according to him. he said the interrogation lasted two hours. >> translator: i don't remember now how long he was interviewed for. i believe it was about 20 minutes. perhaps half an hour.
perhaps who knows? about an hour. i'd have to look at the statement. however, what is certain is that when you make a statement, that person must tell the truth, and i challenge some of the things he said. >> and let me read to you what he said about it. i began to sweat. the public minister began repeating the same questions over and over and over again. >> so i said, wait a minute. i said, are you -- are you -- do you think i've committed a crime? and that's when mignini said, yes, we don't think it. we know it. we know you have committed a crime. we have the proof. and you are going to confess to it. >> it sounds very similar to what amanda knox described. >> translator: it is completely different because i interrogated preston, amanda was interrogated by the police. preston wasn't arrested. amanda was arrested. the two things are completely different.
they have absolutely nothing in common apart from the fact that i was the public prosecutor in both cases. >> amanda knox describes to her lawyers the very same techniques, aggressive questioning, asking to speculate, confronted with so-called evidence of criminal activity that police didn't have. fearing he would soon be arrested, in 2006 preston fled italy and has never returned. but the tables were beginning to turn for the prosecutor as giuliano mignini would find himself under investigation. [ female announcer ] in the grip of arthritis, back, or back joint pain?
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cover-up in the monster case was being ridiculed by other italian justices, and mignini's tactics, including the wiretapping of offices, became part of a new case. mignini himself was accused, convicted, and sentenced to a 16-month suspended sentence for abusing his office. mignini, who is appealing the conviction, explained to us it's nothing. >> translator: i have seen this many times. when they say convicted of abuse of office, it does not mean abuse of power. abuse of office is a minor crime in italy. i mean, it wasn't corruption, just to be clear. >> but for this proud judicial official of perugia, the public humiliation was humbling. it was during this very time when giuliano mignini was facing embarrassing charges of abusing
his office he arrived at the crime scene of meredith kercher's murder. his investigation into kercher's death would not wait for the forensic evidence to be processed. he already had his suspicions. within days, he announced the horrific crime was solved. dr. mignini, is it possible that a prosecutor who was facing his own troubles perhaps rushed to judgment to solve a sensational crime? >> translator: i did not take any opportunity because that day i just happened to be on duty. a tour of duty of a week. so i did not take an opportunity. >> reporter: the morning after our interview with giuliano mignini, the prosecutor spots our camera, walks towards me, and off camera asks what i thought of the interview the night before, if i thought he
was being truthful. clearly, mignini is now concerned. his case against amanda knox appears to be falling apart. the tabloid press still enamored with foxy knoxy is beginning to tell a different story. amanda and raffaello have appealed their convictions. the appeal trial is now under way, and a new judge and new jury have been seated. knox rarely smiles now. raffaello sollecito has shaved his head. they have both been imprisoned for more than three years. knox's family says the couple who had met just eight days before the murder haven't communicated since their arrests. before the judge enters, knox mouths to rafaelle, are you okay? it was a tender moment in what would be a strange hearing. this morning amanda knox's attorneys are to cross-examine
an old witness. he is the homeless man who lived in this park and originally told the court he saw amanda and rach rafaelle near the crime scene the night of the murder. before testimony begins, cameras are ushered out of the court, and police bring in a star prosecution witness that the jury would find laughable. the homeless heroin addict could no longer remember the exact night he saw the couple. he was confused. it could have been halloween. actually the night before the murder. and then the star witness dropped a bombshell admitting he was under investigation by mignini's office for heroin dealing at the exact moment he became one of mignini's star witnesses. in our interview the night before, giuliano mignini has no doubts the tramp, as he calls him, was telling the truth. >> translator: if he says he saw them and states it under oath, then we have to believe him, unless given reason not to. it's not as if the crime had
been filmed. i wish it had been. >> reporter: was he offering his testimony in hopes of getting a favor in court? >> translator: no, he didn't get any favor at all. the witness presented himself and gave a statement. that's all. we took his statement because the evidence was relevant. >> so you believe the testimony of a homeless heroin dealer? >> translator: i don't want to comment on the judicial proceedings regarding this individual because he was tried for another matter, something completely different that had nothing to do with this trial, and so for this trial, he is a witness. >> with mignini's main witness now being challenged, it leaves only the scant dna evidence. and that, too, is about to be challenged. with the prosecution's main witnesses again being challenged
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with the prosecution's main witnesses again being challenged on appeal, the case against amanda knox and rafaelle sollecito seems to be hanging on two very small pieces of dna evidence. two months after our interview with prosecutor giuliano mignini, a court-appointed review of the forensic evidence would find the evidence itself is worthless. the spot found on the knife, it turns out, was not even blood and the dna evidence on the bra clasp is so small, it is scientifically worthless. further testing impossible because the genetic material, if there was any, was ruined in police storage. mignini still insists the forensic evidence proves his case, but the independent italian experts have determined the evidence should not be used. it is a final blow to the prosecutor's case.
dna expert greg hampikian says without the dna, there is no case. when you look at the dna that they claim is from meredith kercher, is at such a low level that it is below the detection that my lab, the fbi, that any lab that i know of uses. >> the prosecutor who repeatedly told us he has nothing to be nervous about is again on the defensive. already found guilty of abuse of his office in the monster of florence case, he is now being accused of harassing journalists who criticize his investigation against amanda knox. earlier this year, the international committee to protect journalists sent a scathing letter to the president of italy complaining about mignini's tactics complaining in part that it is unacceptable that bloggers, journalists and writers on both sides of the
atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the mayor digit kercher case and the monster of florence killings because of prosecutor mignini's inability to the tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office. >> do you have any doubt in your mind that you convicted the wrong people, that amanda knox and rafaelle sollecito may indeed be innocent? >> listen, i am very sincere. so if i made certain requests, it was because i was absolutely sure that they were responsible. otherwise, if i had had any doubt, i would have asked for an acquital for lack of evidence. >> monday, october 3rd, the appeals case is now complete. amanda knox is allowed to address the judge and jury for a final time. after four years in an italian prison, she speaks in fluent italian. and begs hem to let her go.
i'm not what they say i am, perverse, violent. i respect life and people and i haven't done the things that they are suggesting i have done. i haven't murdered, i haven't raped. i haven't stolen. i wasn't there. i wasn't present at the crime. hours later, a verdict is reached. amanda knox and rafaelle sollecito are escorted into court for the final time, and as the verdict is read, knox realizes the jury believes her. and sinks into the arms of her attorney. the murder convictions are overturned, a defamation charge upheld but both sollecito and knox are to be set free immediately.
30 hours after a sobbing amanda knox left an italian court, a now smiling knox and her family arrives to cheers in seattle. amanda knox is home, speechless, but finally approaches the podium. it is the first time she has spoken publicly since her release. just before she approaches, she is reminded this time to speak in english. >> what's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who inspired my family. i just want my family's the most important thing to me right now, and i just want to go and be with them. so thank you for being there for me. >> what's next for amanda knox?
according to her family, that will be up to amanda. they say the young college student so full of life and headed for adventure, the person who left here four years ago, has no idea just how big her story has become. or how big the pressures of her unwanted fame will be. they realize getting back to normal will mean getting used to an entirely new normal. as for julian know mignini, he
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