January 31st, 2014
10:28 AM ET

Amanda Knox Vows to Fight Murder Conviction, Won't 'Go Willingly' to Italy

Amanda Knox vowed Friday to fight her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher "until the very end" and said she "will never go willingly" back to Italy.

Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America," Knox said news of the guilty verdict Thursday "really has hit me like a train."

"I did not expect this to happen. I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system," she said. "They found me innocent before. How can they say that it's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?"

An appeals court found Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, guilty of murder in the Italian city of Florence after a retrial.

Her attorney, Ted Simon, told CNN's "New Day" that he had been in touch with Knox and her family all day as they awaited the court's decision.

"It was terrible news," he said. "She understands more than anyone that a wrongful conviction is unjust, not just for the accused but for the victim, their family, as well as society, and she feels this very personally."

Knox's conviction has raised questions about her possible extradition to Italy to serve her 28½-year sentence, handed down in absentia, since she has been in the United States throughout the retrial.

But Simon said it was too early to talk about extradition since there is still an appeals process to go through, which will probably last another year.

Knox, 26, told ABC she would fight every step of the way.

"I will never go willingly back to the place where I - I'm gonna fight this until the very end," she said.

Asked how she was coping with the situation, her attorney highlighted her strength of character.

"While she accepted that very difficult news, she has rebounded. She has shown great resilience and fortitude. And with a great deal of family support, they're going to go forward and appeal what we would characterize as a completely unjust conviction," Simon said.

The attorney argued there was "no evidence" implicating his client in the murder and never had been, adding that it was "incomprehensible" that the court had found her guilty.

Sollecito stopped near border

Earlier Friday, Italian authorities stopped Sollecito near the border with Austria and Slovenia, Italian police told CNN.

Sollecito, who is not allowed to leave Italy while the legal process continues, was halted in the northern Italian town of Udine, police said.

The Slovenian border is less than 20 miles east of Udine, and the border with Austria lies about 55 miles to the north.

Prosecutors said the couple killed Kercher, a British student, in November 2007. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both denied murder.

Kercher, 21, was found partially nude in a pool of blood in the house she shared with Knox in the picturesque town of Perugia, where both women were exchange students.

But despite years of courtroom battles over her death, many aspects of the crime still remain unexplained.

'Journey to the truth'

On Friday morning, Kercher's siblings spoke in Florence about their family's long ordeal.

Her sister, Stephanie Kercher, said the family might never know exactly what happened on the night of her death.

"I think we are still on the journey to the truth," she said. "I think it may be the fact that we don't ever really know what happened that night, which is obviously something we will have to come to terms with."

Lyle Kercher, Meredith's brother, said the family may have to wait until spring 2015 for a final resolution, since the verdicts reached Thursday can still be appealed at Italy's Supreme Court.

"Nothing is going to bring Meredith back, nothing will take away the horror of what happened to her," he said.

"The best we can hope for is finally bringing this whole case to a conclusion, having a conviction, and everyone can move on with their lives."

If the Supreme Court upholds the murder conviction, he expects to see Italian authorities make an extradition request to the United States so that Knox serves her sentence in Italy, he said.

Stephanie Kercher said that she had been told of a letter written by Knox to the Kercher family but that she had not seen it.

She also appeared to rule out meeting with Knox in the future, despite the American's overtures to the family and whatever the final outcome of the case.

"We've asked to have our wishes respected in that we would like to be together as a family to remember Meredith," she said. "A lot has happened over this length of time. It would be very difficult to meet someone having had all that happen."

Read more: Six things to know about Amanda Knox retrial verdict

Pair first convicted in 2009

Knox and Sollecito were first convicted in 2009, but those charges were overturned on appeal in 2011 and the pair were freed, having spent four years in prison.

In March of last year, Italy's Supreme Court overturned the pair's acquittals, leading to the retrial that resulted Thursday night in their convictions for murder being reinstated by a Florence appeals court.

Knox, who remained at home in Seattle, Washington, while the retrial was held, said in a written statement Thursday that her conviction would bring no consolation to the Kercher family.

Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini has 90 days to write his arguments behind the jury's ruling. Once that is out, lawyers have 90 days to appeal.

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January 31st, 2014
10:22 AM ET

Firefighters Refused to Help Dying Man

Marie Mills held her 77-year-old father, who had collapsed outside in a Washington street. She screamed for help.

A passerby rushed across the street to bang on the door of a fire station, knowing that firefighters are trained to provide emergency medical help.

But they wouldn't leave the station.

The same thing happened when two more people tried to summon the firefighters for assistance, Mills says.

"We looked across the street at the fire station. There was a firefighter that was actually standing against the fire apparatus," she told CNN affiliate WJLA. "Everybody started trying to wave him over." But the firefighter said he had to be dispatched first.

"I even ran to the curb and said, 'Are you going to help me or let my dad die?'" said Mills.

Later, after an ambulance finally arrived, Cecil Mills died at a hospital. He had suffered an apparent heart attack.

An investigation is under way and, so far, no officials are publicly challenging Mills' version of events.

"It's an outrage," Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said at a news conference. "I was absolutely furious."

He said he apologized to Marie Mills for "what appeared to be dereliction," DC news station WTTG reported.

"Those who failed to respond as they should - they will be held accountable, period," Gray vowed.

In comments Thursday to CNN, Gray said he has "taken a lot of time with it."

The investigation is "being done as rapidly as we possibly can," he added.

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department told CNN it is investigating the incident, which took place along the 1300 block of Rhode Island Avenue on Saturday.

"Our duty is to respond to all requests for emergency assistance. If it is determined that proper protocols were not followed at the conclusion of our investigation, then appropriate action will be taken," spokesman Tim Wilson said.

The protocol is in question because, according to the Mills family, those who asked for help at the fire station were told to call 911.

Calls to 911 were placed, but a mix-up with the address delayed an ambulance, said Washington Council member Tommy Wells.

"Two things happened," he said. "One was that no one came out of the fire house to help this gentleman. The other is the ambulance that was dispatched was dispatched to the wrong place. This was a number of fiascos."

Paul Quander, deputy mayor for public safety, said a "very new, probationary employee" was at the facility. The employee's first response should be "to ask a senior person, and we believe that was done," he said, according to WTTG. "The question now is what did that senior person say? What did that person do? Did they follow protocols and procedures?"

There are no protocols that would prevent fire personnel from helping those in need, Quander told CNN Thursday. "These are people who run into burning buildings. They work in the most hazardous conditions imaginable.

"They cross the streets, they cross highways to get to people. It is understood. It is common. This is why it is so troubling that we did not take the appropriate action in this case. It's right across the street."

"It's hard to get your arms around" the idea that this took place, he added.

Lt. Kellene Davis was the officer in charge of the station at the time of the incident, WTTG reports.

Davis did not respond immediately to an e-mail Thursday from CNN, and a call to a phone number listed for her was not answered.

Also Thursday, a spokesman said that two employees of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department have been suspended with pay in the wake of the incident.

"I cannot say who they were because it is a personnel matter and an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you that neither of them was the probationary firefighter involved in the incident," said Keith St. Clair, with the office of the deputy mayor for public safety.

The employees were working at the station, he said.

Cecil Mills, a lifelong Washington resident, worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

His daughter, in mourning, had kind words for the mayor's handling of the matter. "I appreciate how seriously he is taking this because it never should have happened," she told WTTG.

Marie Mills wasn't immediately available Thursday when contacted by CNN.

The firefighters' union said the incident simply should never have happened.

"We need to find out why it did occur and make sure it never happens again," said Ed Smith, president of the DC Fire Fighters Association, in a statement reported by WTTG.

He added that on the union's behalf, "I offer Mr. Mills' family a sincere apology."

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January 31st, 2014
10:18 AM ET

At Utah School, There Really Was No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

Dozens of children at a Utah elementary school had their lunch trays snatched away from them before they could take a bite this week.

Salt Lake City School District officials say the trays were taken away at Uintah Elementary School Tuesday because some students had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches. But they admit the situation should have been handled differently.

Instead of regular lunches, the students were given fruit and milk.

"We don't ever let kids go without any food entirely," Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen told CNN affiliate KSL.

Mother Erica Lukes told KSL she was "blindsided" when her daughter, a fifth grader, described what a school district official told her: "You don't have any money in your account, so you can't get lunch."

"There were a lot of tears," Lukes said, "and it was pretty upsetting for them."

The district said it started notifying parents about negative account balances Monday. But Lukes said she and other parents were never told about the problem.

"Even if they did try to send the word out, you still don't do that to a child," she told KSL. "You don't take a lunch out of their hands."

School officials admit they made a mistake.

"This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize," the Salt Lake City School District said on its Facebook page.

Officials are investigating whether guidelines about notifying parents were followed, the district said.

"We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation," the district said. "We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again."

Another post on the school district's Facebook page talks about the importance of ending child hunger.

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January 31st, 2014
10:15 AM ET

Look at Her Go!

British actress Helen Mirren twerks for Harvard University's Theatrical Troupe as they present her with an annual award.

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