Amanda Knox's Inmate Ritual for Leaving Prison

PHOTO: Amanda Knox, left, is comforted by her sister, Deanna Knox, during a news conference shortly after her arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Oct. 4, 2011, in Seattle.
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Amanda Knox, a prison inmate for the past four years, was careful to observe inmate rituals as she left her Italian cell earlier this week, breaking her toothbrush,leaving her bed unmade and starting her journey to freedom by sliding her right foot forward.

The fresh details of her departure emerged as Knox spent her first night in her hometown of Seattle after her exoneration on murder charges and her release from Capanne prison, outside Perugia, Italy.

ABC News has also learned that Knox began keeping a new prison diary in the months before her release.

Knox, 24, tearfully thanked those who supported her when she arrived in Seattle Tuesday night, saying that looking down at Seattle from her plane "wasn't real."

Seattle is a long way from where she was Monday leaving her prison cell, and life in prison did not even come up during a euphoric family reunion Tuesday night until late in the conversation, family lawyer Theodore Simon told "Good Morning America" today.

"There are particular rituals that happen when a person knows they are leaving for good," Simon said.

"You take your toothbrush, you break it in half, carry it out, and once you actually are beyond the walls of the prison, you throw your old toothbrush away," Simon said.

"Just as you leave the prison, with your right foot you slide it forward in a kind of a sliding motion which is a symbolic gesture that uh indicates or is hopeful that the next deserving person that should be rightfully released will be released soon," he said.

Knox also left her cell bed unmade before going to court the last time, another prison ritual.

"When you are going to court where there's an expectation that there will be a final decision, you must not make your bed. You must leave it unmade. And of course that's what she did," the lawyer told ABC News.

Knox was clearly under intense stress while waiting to hear her verdict, but she recalled for her family another prison dictum, Simon said.

"Upon arriving in court, when one is about to receive a final verdict, it's required that you keep both of your fists clenched during the reading of the verdict," he said.

Simon said Knox complied with all the routines. "Amanda did not want to buck the ritual," he said.

Knox got an exuberant send off from her fellow inmates, with hundreds of them crowding the prison's narrow windows and waving clothing like flags when she returned following her court ruling.

The greeting made Knox jump up and down and wave back, according to Corrado Maria Daclon, secretary general of the USA Italy Foundation, who escorted Knox during her departure from the prison.

Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told People magazine that her daughter spent 22 hours a day in a 18-foot by 13-foot cell that she sometimes shared with as many as three other women. She did push-ups and sit-ups in her cell to keep fit and lost so much weight while in prison that she went from a six 6 to a size 0, she told the magazine.

The former inmate teared up Tuesday night upon her arrival back home in Seattle while her family thanked supporters for believing in her. A supporter shouted, "Welcome Home, Amanda."

"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," she said. "My family's the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go and be with them."

Knox's father, Curt, said his daughter was so thrilled to be released from prison that she "pretty much squished the air out of us when she hugged us."

"The focus simply is Amanda's well-being and getting her reassociated with just being a regular person again," he said in front of his home in West Seattle.

He said Amanda would like to return to the University of Washington at some point to finish her degree, but for now, he's apprehensive about what four years in prison may have done to his daughter, though there are no immediate plans for her to get counseling.

"What's the trauma ... and when will it show up, if it even shows up?" he said. "She's a very strong girl, but it's been a tough time for her."

One person not happy with Knox's first day of freedom in the U.S. was Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini who expressed disbelief at the acquittals of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

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