tonight on "nightline," amanda knox speaks. finally home again after a four-year nightmare abroad, the american student stops at the airport to personally thank supporters. >> thank you for being there for me. >> we're in seattle with the very latest. killing in the classroom. an eighth grader shoots a fellow student, execution style, in class. he says in retaliation for taunting. now, should he really be facing a life sentence? and great expectations. it's a glimpse of the future. apple, without steve jobs, as the company unveils its latest
iphone today. bill weir previews what could be the coolest phone yet. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," october 4th, 2011. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and right away tonight, we want to take you to the seattle airport, where not long ago, amanda knox, the 24-year-old american student released just yesterday from prison in italy landed after a nine hour flight, cleared customs and stepped to a microphone to address supporters. abc's neal karlinsky is in with our coverage "amanda knox: homecoming." >> welcome home amanda! >> reporter: as she landed in seattle just a few hours ago, amanda knox set foot on american soil for the first time if four years and finally spoke for herself. >> they're reminding me to speak in english because i'm having
problems with that. >> reporter: it was an extraordinary moment in a case full of them, even knox herself couldn't seem to believe the moment she was now living was really happening. >> i'm really overwhelmed right now. i was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real. what's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family. >> reporter: for the knox family, it all must seem so surreal. little more than 24 hours ago, amanda was sitting in an italian courtroom, serving a sentence that was supposed to keep her behind bars for a quarter century. that all ended when the jury hearing her appeal overturned the conviction and set her free. her long journey home began at the airport in rome, around noon, where she boarded flight
553 to london, then caught a cob nexting fright to seattle. her mood, her smile, even her outfit were put under the media microscope. when they finally arrived, her exhausted parents could only express their thanks, as amanda tried her best to contain herself. >> we couldn't have made it through without all you people out here who have supported us. and especially amanda. >> i -- yeah. all i can say is thank you. it's because of the letters and the calls and the just amazing support that we've received that we've been able to endure. >> reporter: getting to this moment hasn't just taken four years. it's taken a battalion of close friends, parents of high school classmates, neighbors and true believers who devoted all their spare time and then some. >> we had people that were, had legal backgrounds, we had people who had police backgrounds.
but mainly we had people who were interested in justice and saw a grave injustice and wanted to work to be part of something bigger than themselves. >> reporter: mike heavey is a member of something called friends of amanda. even as investigators poured through evidence in italy, the friends of amanda double checked everything, analyzed forensic data and helped shape the appeal. do you think the family could have achieved as much as they have without so much sharp and tireless support? >> i doubt it, simply because these are ordinary people, good people, bright people, but suddenly thrust into a situation that no one could anticipate. i don't see how a family could possibly have coped with the attacks they have endured. >> reporter: the volunteer effort was as necessary as it was relentless. despite tabloid headlines about cashing in, the reality is that getting to this point have cost the knox family nearly
everything. aman day's parents curt and edda are divorced. they took out second mortgages, ran through credit cards and retirement accounts to cover legal bills estimated at more than $1 million. amanda's sister had to drop out of college and get not one, but two jobs. >> working two jobs and not being able to go to school is frustrating and hard, but you don't think about it because you realize what amanda's going through and how much harder that is. >> reporter: these are middle class americans in seattle, they are by no means well thil before this and now they've been devastated by this economically. >> reporter: for amanda, the question now is, how will she cope? can a young woman go from being an anonymous college student abroad to an internationally known murder suspect, to freedom and home again without experiencing severe trauma? psychiatrist gail salts says knox is facing a mix of issues, ranging from her imprisonment to her notoriety.
>> people who endure that kind of trauma, if they find coping skims and they surmount it, well, that builds incredible resilience. that could really help her in her future life. on the other hand, if it is overwhelming trauma and you left feeling you weren't able to manage it, then it can undo you. the question is, really, more one of, how did she manage the trauma along the way? >> reporter: but the people who stood by her these last four years believe, despite all the challenges and all the attention, amanda knox will be just fine. >> i think we'll go through a period of five years where it slowly dies down and i think ten years from now, somebody will say the name amanda knox and they won't know what it's all about. >> reporter: in seattle tonight, amanda knox has only one wish. home again, life for amanda knox is just getting started. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in seattle. >> so she's home.
you can find continuing coverage of the amanda knox homecoming at abcnews.com and on yahoo news, our partner site. just ahead, we're going to turn to the story of an eighth grade student shot dead in class, and a tragic story of bully and victim with a twist. ♪ a refrigerator has never been hacked. an online virus has never attacked a corkboard. ♪ give your customers the added feeling of security a printed statement or receipt provides... ...with mail. it's good for your business. ♪ and even better for your customers. ♪ for safe and secure ways to stay connected, visit usps.com/mail confidence. available in color.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> all too often today in america, being or just seeing to be gay can be dangerous. a recent report showed a spike of 13% last year in violent crimes against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. the victim in this case we're about to show you was a boy who liked to dress as a girl.
but now defenders of the classmate who shot him say the killer was also a victim. here's abc's juju chang for our series "crime and punishment." >> reporter: larry king was an eighth grader in oxnard, california, who like many, began exploring his sexuality. his english teacher dawn says larry had learning issues and behavioral issues. after being removed from his adoptive home, he started showing up to school wearing girls clothes, makeup and four-inch heels. >> larry wasn't doing anything that was against the rules. he was dressed in any way that a girl would have been able to. >> reporter: buzz his eccentricities made him a prime target for bullying. larry's best friend, avery laskey, saw the backlash. >> they would beat up on him. he would go in the restroom for awhile and they would push him into the lockers. >> reporter: they bullied him in every way? >> yes.
>> reporter: dawn says she wanted to make larry feel like he had nothing to be ashamed of. so, she secretly gave larry her daughter's green prom gresz. >> i told him to enjoy it. have fun. >> reporter: some might say what is a teacher doing giving a dress to a boy? >> there's a fine line in the classroom. and it's so hard, because as a teacher, you just see things with children that you shouldn't see. >> reporter: what dawn says she saw is something that happens in schools all over america, children tormented for being different. and fremds say there was somebody particularly disgusted by larry flamboyant behavior. 14-year-old brandon mcinerney. >> he would always say, i'll get you later. i'm going to hurt you. >> reporter: two days before valentine's day, 2008, brandon did more than that. english class had just gotten under way. >> i remember hearing a pop. >> reporter: dawn says she turned and had a horrible
feeling. >> it was very quick but you could smell smoke and i looked at brandon, because brandon was standing. >> reporter: he was holding a .22 caliber handgun. >> i asked him what the hell was doing. he looked at me and then he shot larry again. >> reporter: point blank, to the back of the head, oceexecution style, in front of all his classmates. inside his backpack, parents found a copy of hitler's manifesto. the 14-year-old was charged as an adult, with first degree murder and a hate crime. >> i believe the d.a. thought there are certain crimes that are so heinous, it's not appropriate to deal with them in juvenile court. >> reporter: he says classmates testified larry king seemed stuck in a vicious cycle of getting bullied and striking back. >> we would call him games, gay or a fag. >> reporter: but then the trial took a turn. brandon's defense lawyer made a
controversial accusation in court. that larry was not only the victim of bullying, but that he bullied brandon right back. >> on a daily basis, larry king was sexually harassing brandon mcinerney. and no grownup did anything about it. >> reporter: can you have explain, though, how a 5'1", you know, effeminate boy can bully a stronger, bigger, strapping athlete? >> he was chasing boys around school with his heels. he was touching himself. he was doing things that are sexual in nature. >> reporter: the defense says larry humiliated brandon with his sexual taunts. >> somebody said that he went onto the basketball court, embarrassed brandon and asked him to be his valentine. >> reporter: his lawyer argues that brandon was misunderstood. the hitler book came from the world library for a book report. but brandon had been falling behind in school. both his parents were addicted to drugs.
brandon's father was beating him vie leaptly, according to his brother. >> he was a little kid who just got pushed to the brink. >> reporter: so, in your view, he just lost it. >> yeah. >> reporter: but after eight weeks of testimony, who would the jury believe? was brandon a cold blooded homophobic killer? or did he just snap in the heat of the moment, which would make it manslaughter, making him eligible for parole in his 40s? they deliberated for four days, but couldn't agree on a verdict. a hung jury. a mistrial. these jurors are speaking out together for the first time. they all believe brandon should never have been charged as an adult. how many of you are convinced it was a hate crime? not even close. why do you shake your head, nancy? >> it was, to me, way offbase. >> reporter: don't forget, there was a boy who was shot in the head -- >> we never forget that. never. not as a group, not as individuals. never. >> reporter: brandon's mom has been sober for six years.
she's never spoken on national tv, but now says she's trying t make up for being what the defense called a terrible mother. what would you say to larry's family? >> i'm sorry this happened. they don't get to go visit larry and i know that. and they don't get to go wrap their arms around larry. and i think about it every day. >> reporter: prosecutors say they want to try brandon again for murder, as an adult, arguing he is capable of killing again. but dawn, who is no longer teaching, disagrees. even though she witnessed the execution-style shooting in her classroom. when you heard hung jury, what was your thought? what was your reaction? >> i was elated. happy. >> reporter: why? >> and when -- i realized those people saw a child. >> reporter: these jurors say they saw a child, as well. they're now wearing "save brandon" bracelets in support. tomorrow, a california court will re-examine what exactly justice means for both larry king and his accused killer.
for "nightline," i'm juju chang in oxnard, california. >> and "20/20" will have an hour-long in depth look at this case on friday. our thanks to juju chang for that story. next up, we'll turn to apple. company springs a surprise at a press conference to announce the new iphone. hi. i'm kristen. we're going to head on into the interview. sir.....mr blair...derek... what surprised you most about your new explorer? i think just the new body style. it's almost movin' in from a little house to like this mansion. who uses the navigation system the most? definitely i do. (laugh) i'm directionally impaired. reporters laugh if you guys could thank ford for one thing, what would it be? for making us the joneses. (laugh) reporters laugh it's your fault. naturally blame the mucus. try advil congestion relief. it treats the real problem,
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well, it wasn't the iphone 5, that's what a lot of folks were hoping for today. but it was a new iphone, the first major product roll outfor apple since steve jobs' departure. it's a phone you can talk on and at. here's my co-anchor bill weir. >> reporter: get a load of artificial intelligence, apple
style. i'm in the mood for sushi. >> i found a number of sushi restaurants. 22 of them are fairly close to you. >> i should have all the answers for you in about ten minutes. >> reporter: finally, this might just be the kind of understanding machine we've craved since "the jetsons" and feared since "2001." >> open the pod bay doors. >> i'm sorry, dave. i'm afraid i can't do that. >> reporter: machine servant seemed tantalizingly close back when the founder of a little computer startup unveiled something called macintosh in 1984. >> so, it is with considerable pride that i introduce a man who has been like a father to me, steve jobs. >> reporter: but while steve jobs and apple did a dazzling job helping people understand computers, computers still never seem to understand us. until today. >> send it. >> okay. i'll send your message. >> reporter: and sadly, steve
jobs was not there to see it. the gravely ill founder handed over his ceo title to tim cook this summer, making this the first product launch of a new era. >> i love apple. >> reporter: and through most of it, it seemed the thrill was gone. because mac helds have been trained to expect a stunningly cool, game changing invention every single year. when it became obvious there would be no iphone 5 today, the stock price sank and the tech blogs grumbled. but at the very end came the unvaming of siri, a program that moving voice recognition to a whole new level. give this phone any command, they say, and the computer inside will eventually figure out an answer. >> what's the weather like today? >> checking out the weather in cupertino. here's the forecast for today. >> reporter: that's pretty cool. >> pretty cool. >> reporter: what is the top-rated television show in late night?
>> i found 14 electronics stores. i sorted them by rating. i can look specifically for open sh ing -- >> reporter: the answer is "nightline." it could be game-changing, right? >> people, cars, places where they are hands free, would love some of the features of this. if the thing really takes dictation, that could be a big deal. i think people were expecting more, especially with steve being gone and tim taking over, but in reality, once people see what they've put out today, they'll be really impressed with the software. >> reporter: if history is any guide, despite today's disappointments, the cult of apple is about to get a lot bigger. just ask siri. >> reporter: remind me to call my wife when i leave work. >> here's your reminder for when