U.S. News: Trying Times: Three Court Cases Become National Obsessions

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
2011 Year in Review

Major U.S. news stories, from Occupy Wall Street to Penn State

Casey Anthony

Casey Anthony Mug Shot (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

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Trying Times: Three Court Cases Become National Obsessions

Sensational trials often capitvate the nation. In 2011, the trial of Casey Anthony attracted angry protestors and the fury of a popular TV host. Dr. Conrad Murray's case had Michael Jackson fans on edge, while Amanda Knox's appeal was watched closely on both sides of the Atlantic.

On July 5, a jury of five men and seven women found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her daughter, Caylee Marie, who was last seen with her mother on June 16, 2008. The verdict ended a case that had viewers glued to their TV and computer screens for three years. Many avid watchers of the case were shocked and angered by the verdict, including HLN host Nancy Grace. In reaction to the verdict, Grace said "The devil is dancing tonight." The jury did find Anthony guilty of the lesser charge of providing false information to law enforcement officers. The jury did not ask to review any evidence and reached their decision in less than 11 hours.

During the fall of 2011, the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray also received national attention. Murray was Michael Jackson's personal physician at the time of the pop star's death in 2009. Since Jackson died from an overdose of propofol, an anesthetic, mixed with other drugs, the trial focused on whether Murray recklessly provided Jackson with a sedative typically used only in hospitals where the patient can be monitored. In November, Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison, the maximum sentence.

On October 3, a court in Italy overturned the homicide conviction against American student Amanda Knox, ending a case that grabbed international attention. Knox had been sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old from Surrey England. She'd been in jail since 2007 and maintained her innocence in the face of relentless media scrutiny. Her co-defendant and former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also freed. The day after she was cleared, Knox returned home to Seattle.

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