Law & Order was canceled last year, but 2011 brought enough real-life courtroom drama to keep us from ever getting bored. From Casey Anthony to Lindsay Lohan, here are the five people who found themselves at the center of the year's biggest legal battles.
The trial of Casey Anthony this year raised the public's ire like no case has in years. Anthony was found not guilty in July of first-degree murder and other charges in connection with the 2008 death of her 2-year-old Caylee. Early on, Anthony told authorities her daughter had been abducted, and massive search efforts were organized. She later said her daughter drowned in the family swimming pool. Public opinion was overwhelmingly against Anthony, and the not guilty verdict was largely met with public outrage. She's kept a low profile in recent months.
Amanda Knox was 20 years old and studying in Italy when she was arrested in connection with the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Knox was convicted of multiple charges related to the murder, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her conviction and treatment in an Italian prison outraged the American public, and she became the object of intense media coverage. The murder conviction was overturned in October 2011, and Knox finally returned home to Washington state.
2011 brought closure to one of the biggest scandals in recent years—the death of Michael Jackson. In June 2009 the "King of Pop" died at age 50, after suffering from cardiac arrest brought on by drug intoxication. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled his death a homicide. It took more than two years, though, for Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, to be convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Murray said that Jackson struggled with insomnia, and asked him for powerful sedatives nearly every night. Murray was sentenced to four years in prison for giving Jackson the drugs that led to his death.
In August America's most infamous polygamist, Warren Jeffs, was convicted of sexually assaulting two minors. He'll spend the rest of his life in prison. Jeffs was arrested in 2006 after being placed on the FBI's most wanted list. He's been accused of taking many underage girls as his "spiritual brides." Jeffs was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints, a group whose Texas ranch was raided by authorities in 2008. More than 400 children were removed from the compound.
Each year some things change, and some stay the same. 2011 was a year of more trouble for actress Lindsay Lohan, whose first arrest for a DUI was in 2007. In February 2011, she was charged with a different crime: theft. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail, in addition to community service. Because of overcrowding, Lohan served her sentence under house arrest. In October her probation was revoked, and she was sent to jail before posting $100,000 bail. Lohan was back in court in November, when she was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She served less than five hours because of overcrowding.
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