A man who held several people hostage in Grand Rapids, Michigan, killed himself, Police Chief Kevin Belk said Thursday night.
The man, identified as Rodrick Dantzler, is suspected of killing seven people, including two children.
He ran into a home after a roughly 15-minute chase from the police and a standoff ensued, before he shot himself to death, police said.FULL POST
Hours after Casey Anthony learned on Thursday that she will leave jail next week, lightning apparently struck a tree next to a makeshift memorial in honor of her slain daughter, Caylee.
No one saw lightning strike the pine tree on Suburban Drive in Orange County, Florida, where teddy bears and flowers mark the spot where 2-year-old Caylee's remains were found on December 11, 2008.
But long, diagonal strips of exposed wood scarred the tall pine tree, WESH reported, and bits of bark lay scattered across the road.
"It could be a sign from the angels that they aren't happy with what's happened," a visitor to the site told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. "The rain, the lightning, the storm – it's the heavens indicating they aren't happy."
There are more lightning strikes in Florida per square mile than in any other state, according to weather.com.
A Pinellas County jury acquitted Anthony, 24, of murder and manslaughter charges Tuesday in the death of her daughter. The same jury convicted her of four charges of obstruction of justice for lying to police during the search for Caylee.
Judge Belvin Perry sentenced Anthony to four years in jail – one year for each of her four convictions – but with credit for nearly three years already served and good behavior, her release date was set for Wednesday, July 13, a court spokeswoman said.
Comment of the Day
"I do believe in karma... and for sure even if she walks free she won't have an easy and normal life." — CJ
A court representative announced Thursday that Casey Anthony, who was acquitted Tuesday in the death of her daughter, will be released from prison Wednesday. The announcement only added to the frustration of an already hostile public, many of whom followed the trial and were outraged by Anthony’s acquittal. Several CNN.com readers commented about how Anthony’s future will be affected by the trial.
Kitty2 said, “Like it or not, the woman has been found not guilty–like some of the jurors said–not guilty does not necessarily mean innocent. If these TV personalities continue their needling after this trial, then the Anthony family with their attorneys should sue those people for pain and suffering.”
Andy said, “Just in time. I bet (Casey) was getting real tired of that innocent granny hair do she's been forced to wear.”
Barbara Nicholls explained that she will not support any of Anthony’s attempts to sell her story to the media. She said, “Do you seriously want justice for Caylee? I do! And this is how I plan to do it. I will spend $0.00 on any book or movie on anything Casey Anthony related. I will focus my actions, time and resources that promote those organizations that work tirelessly to protect children. To do anything less is a grave injustice to Caylee.”
Cvd said, “Well, one thing about this we really don't know what happened, but i do know one judge. that sits high and looks low. And that judge she will have to answer too.”
SoulKeeperX commented on the crowd reaction during Anthony’s sentencing. “What a scene outside the courthouse. The circus is in town and there are plenty of clowns.”
The 168-year-old British tabloid News of the World will cease publication Sunday in the wake of public scrutiny surrounding a phone hacking scandal. News of the World is owned by Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and The New York Post. The scandal got a variety of reactions from CNN.com readers, ranging from jokes to skepticism.
Pacito said, “So now we may find out how Breibart got the pictures of Weiner from his cell phone.”
Lightnup said, “News is political these days. Pick one over the other and offer your loyalty and you have already lost. ALL news needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Aranthan suggested that the move was made to protect the brand. “This is brand protection Murdoch style. He is simply cutting his loses before it eats into his other companies. This action still won’t change my mind, I’m done with anything from News Corp.”
President Obama and congressional leaders held a new round of debt ceiling negotiations Thursday to avoid possible default next month. The president is seeking more than $3 trillion in cuts, including to Medicare and Social Security. The debt talks produced a lively discussion, with several CNN.com readers offering suggestions for alleviating the debt.
crockah said, "There's a simple solution to all of this. A flat tax rate. The more you make, the more you pay. Simple and efficient. No need for tax lawyers or loop hole artists any longer."
blue175 said, "Entitlements and defense are why we have such a huge amount of debt! Everything else amounts to rounding errors by comparison."
Tunasalad expressed frustration with the way debt talks were handled by the government. "It is IRONIC that the same people (dem and rep) who created this mess, pretend as though they are going to repair the mess. Americans are so going to get screwed by this situation."
GGFL said, "Tax cuts for the rich produce millions of jobs. Cut taxes to 0% for millionaires and just watch how may people they hire to do the lawn."
Deathstalker commented, "Some changes are need but the base medicare and SS should be left alone for the most part. If we are having problems paying the bills raise the SS tax and the medicare tax."
Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.
[Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET] NASA is investigating a possible lightning strike within one third of a mile of the space shuttle Atlantis, which is scheduled to launch for the final time on Friday.
Engineers will review data to determine if the lightning affected the shuttle or any of the launch pad's ground support equipment, according to a NASA statement.
A steady band of thunderstorms has hampered inspection teams from reviewing the facility, potentially delaying the launch, scheduled for 11:26 a.m. on Friday.
But workers on Thursday afternoon began procedures that would allow inspectors to investigate the incident for potential damage.
Currently the launch time remains unchanged, despite only a 30% chance of favorable weather, according to the statement.
Atlantis is poised to perform the last mission of the 30-year-old shuttle program. On board will be a four-person, veteran crew of astronauts, headed to the international space station with a load of supplies.
Police in San Francisco say they have made an arrest in the theft of a $275,000 Picasso drawing from an art gallery this week.
The suspect was identified as Mark Lugo, 30, of New Jersey. He was arrested in Napa, California, police said in a statement.
Around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, a man entered the Weinstein Gallery, walked straight to the drawing, removed it and walked out, San Francisco police said.
He then entered a cab that appeared to be waiting and drove away.
Police said Lugo was taken into custody at a Napa hotel and the sketch was recovered during a search of the premises where the suspect was arrested.
An 83-year-old Northern California woman has died after being hit by a skateboarder moving at 15 to 20 miles an hour, police said.
Maryann Slettehaugh was crossing a street in Capitola, California, Tuesday afternoon when she was struck by a 17-year-old boy, Capitola police Sgt. Andrew Dally told CNN affiliate KSBW-TV.
Dally said the skateboarder, who was traveling down a steep hill, jumped off the board and tried to avoid colliding with Slettehaugh but was unable to, according to KSBW. He stayed with the injured woman after the collision.
Slettehaugh was in a crosswalk and a panel truck had stopped to let her pass, according to media reports.
Slettehaugh was airlifted to a San Jose hospital, where she was pronounced dead, CNN affiliate KION-TV reported.
The teen has not been charged in the incident, but detectives are investigating, Capitola police Detective Marquis Booth told CNN.
A Chicago woman has become the first person to adopt her own children under a recent Illinois law that she inspired.
The law, passed in 2009, allows for parents who have lost custody of their children to rehabilitate themselves and regain it, in the event that the adoptive parent is a blood relative and passes away. Lawmakers said they were unaware of similar laws elsewhere.
Two weeks ago Yolanda Miller, 49, adopted four of her 11 biological children, who range in age from their late teens to mid-20s.
Miller had ten children while she was addicted to crack cocaine. Her mother adopted the children when they were born, and Miller lived next door to the rest of her family. One day in 1997, Miller just stopped using crack for good. She had been heading out the door to get high, when she said she was suddenly immobile.
“I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak,” she said. “I knew it was God stopping me in my tracks. I said, ‘If you give me another chance, I’ll never smoke another rock again.’ ”
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin calls the four-year sentence Judge Belvin Perry slapped on Casey Anthony a surprise but says the judge likely was making a statement in giving her the maximum jail time.
Perry on Thursday sentenced Anthony to one year behind bars on each of four counts of lying to police concerning the death of her daughter, Caylee. She also was fined $1,000 for each count.
“Most people convicted of misdemeanors do not get prison time in Florida or anywhere else," Toobin says.
Despite the sentence, Anthony won't spend much more time incarcerated. She got credit for the time spent in custody since her arrest, almost 1,000 days.
Before the court gave Anthony's official release date, Toobin speculated that she could be free in less than two months once credit for good behavior also was considered. But it appears Anthony got a bigger break – she'll be out in a less than a week. A court spokeswoman said her release date would be Wednesday.
Under normal conditions, the Yellowstone River is a beautiful body of water, a postcard picture of America's West.
But now pockets of thick crude oil appear along the river's banks in Billings, Montana. Around 42,000 gallons of the stuff leaked into the river last week after an oil pipeline ruptured.
No one knows why the pipeline broke. It should have been buried under 5 to 8 feet of the riverbed, said Claire Hassett, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, the pipeline's owner.
[Updated at 12:00 p.m.] The scandal-hit British tabloid News of the World will shut down after Sunday's issue, its owner, News International, told CNN Thursday.
All revenue for Sunday's final edition of the scandal-hit tabloid the News of the World will go to good causes, News Corp. executive James Murdoch said Thursday in announcing the closure of the 168-year-old newspaper.
Journalists at News of the World, a tabloid that is the world's top-selling English-language newspaper, have been accused of hacking into the mobile phone account of missing British teenager Milly Dowler, intercepting messages in search of news.
They then allegedly deleted messages to keep her mailbox from filling up, giving her family and friends false hope that the schoolgirl - later found murdered - was still alive.
Police also are investigating suggestions the paper - known for its exposes of celebrities and politicians - may have targeted the relatives of other high profile crime victims, including at least one of those killed in the 2005 London bombings.
The news comes after the officer leading the investigation said they have identified nearly 4,000 potential victims of illegal eavesdropping by a private investigator working for the tabloid.
The illegal eavesdropping by Britain's scandal-hit News of the World tabloid "sullied" the newspaper and "has no place in our company," News International chairman James Murdoch said Thursday.FULL STORY
[Updated at 11:34 a.m.] Casey Anthony will be released on July 13, 2011, according to a court spokesperson.
The spokeswoman said she would release more information about the calculation as soon as it was available.
[Updated at 10:41 a.m.] Judge Belvin Perry and attorneys for the state ad the defense are continuing to hold discussions in the courtroom.
All sides are working with the corrections department to help determine exactly how much time Casey Anthony has served in order to determine how much longer she will need to serve to finish out her sentence. The decision is expected to come soon.
[Updated at 9:30 a.m.] Judge Belvin Perry has sentenced Casey Anthony to one year in jail for each of the four counts of lying to police, which will run consecutively.
The judge and defense attorney Jose Baez said it will take about an hour to figure out what exact time Anthony has served and how to apply that to the sentence. The jail where she was being housed would also have to consider any good behavior time.
It appears that for now Casey Anthony is headed back to jail - we'll just have to wait for the specific calculations from the court to find out for how long. Analysts appear to be saying that based on Perry's ruling - and calculations that she served about 1,000 days in court - it is likely Anthony could be free by the end of the summer.
Perry also said he would fine Anthony $1,000 for each count. Perry also said that the court will work to calculate the cost of the investigation into Caylee Anthony's disappearance and what amount of that Casey Anthony might have to pay. The judge has also let Anthony and her team know that they have 30 days to appeal his ruling.
Anthony has remained stoic during this portion of the court hearing. She is conferring with her other attorneys as the judge hands down the sentence.
But as she prepared to exit the courtroom, Casey Anthony let out a tiny smile.
[Updated at 9:26 a.m.] Judge Belvin Perry is breaking down each of the false information charges and specifically what lies Casey Anthony told police that led them along in their investigation - including one where she said she spoke to Caylee Anthony.
Perry rules in favor of the prosecution, saying he doesn't agree that the lies were all one act.
"As a result of those four separate and distinct lies, law enforcement expended a great deal of time, energy and manpower looking for young Caylee Marie Anthony," he said. "This search for her went on from July through December - over several months - trying to find Caylee Marie Anthony. Four distinct, separate, lies. Just as the jury spoke loud and clear on counts one, two and three on their verdict they also spoke loud and clear on the remaining counts."
[Updated at 9:25 a.m.] Casey Anthony will not make a statement before sentencing, her attorney said.
[Updated at 9:17 a.m.] The prosecution has said though they were only handed this defense request this morning. Still, they do not believe the lies should be treated as one single act because there was a temporal break in between each of the lies. And they've also got a few prior cases to back up their thoughts. The fact that the statements happened on the same day doesn't mean the statements should be considered all one act, the prosecution argued.
The prosecution also said as a result of the individual lies police had to go on a "wild goose chase" in the case.
[Updated at 9:16 a.m.] The judge is reiterating his question to the defense: Are they arguing that Casey Anthony didn't have time to pause and reflect when she was making her statements to policy. Their answer: Yes. And that's why the lies should be considered as only be one charge.
[Updated at 9:11 a.m.] Judge Belvin Perry is taking a minute to read through the materials the defense has provided in regard to treating the misdemeanors as one charge.
[Updated at 9:04 a.m.] The defense is asking the court to consider the four misdemeanor charges of lying to police as one charge when it comes to sentencing - saying they were all part of the same act.
Because the information at question was part of the same interview and Casey Anthony did not have time to take a mental break and reformulate her thoughts and statements, her lawyers are saying all of the charges should be reduced to just one.
Because it was "one act" made by Casey Anthony the defense says it is a violation of double jeopardy to sentence her four separate times for the same offense.
[Updated at 9:03 a.m.] The defense has withdrawn an earlier motion for a mistrial - something lawyer Jose Baez jokes he doesn't need anymore.
[Updated at 9:00 a.m.] Judge Belvin Perry has entered the courtroom. The sentencing is about to begin.
[Updated at 8:58 a.m.] Casey Anthony is much more animated and less stoic in court Thursday - and the sentencing hearing hasn't even begun yet.
Though she's still biting her nails as she had during the verdict, it's mixed in many more with smiles and winks to the defense team than looks of worry.
Defense Attorney Jose Baez has just sat down next to her and patted her on the back. The defense table couldn't be any more full of smiles today.
On the other hand, the mood outside the courthouse is a little different. Protesters are gathered outside and still angry with the not guilty verdict.
[Updated at 8:48 a.m.] A smiling Casey Anthony has walked into the Orlando courtroom wearing a long-sleeve blue sweater and her hair down. She appears much more relaxed than she has during any other day in court. She's chatting with her attorney's as she awaits the judge and her sentencing.
Her parents George and Cindy Anthony are seated at the back of the courtroom.
[Posted at 8:28 a.m.] Casey Anthony is due in court Thursday for a sentencing hearing on four misdemeanor counts of lying to police regarding a missing person case - the only charges she was convicted of during her seven-week long murder trial.
She avoided the most serious charges when a jury acquitted her of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee. Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, for which Judge Belvin Perry has the option of sentencing her consecutively or concurrently.
For more than 30 years, America's space shuttles have rocketed into orbit. Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour blasted off 134 times from the Kennedy Space Center. They were mankind's first reusable space launch vehicles, and the first to glide back to Earth on wings. As the space shuttle program ends with the final flight of Atlantis, CNN looks back at key moments that have defined this pioneering space program.
Judge Belvin Perry sentenced Casey Anthony Thursday to four years in prison - one year for each of her four convictions of lying to authorities - but with credit for time served and good behavior, she could be released as soon as this summer.
Denying a defense motion to reduce the four counts to a single conviction, Perry gave Anthony the maximum prison time he could by ruling that the four years be served consecutively. He also fined her $1,000 for each count.
A jury acquitted Anthony on the most serious charges Tuesday, including murder, in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, but convicted her on the four misdemeanor counts of lying to police.FULL STORY
Two jurors in the Casey Anthony trial say they wish the outcome had been different but prosecutors did not present enough evidence to convict Anthony of killing her daughter, Caylee, according to news reports Thursday.
"It doesn't feel good. It was a horrible decision to have to make" to find Anthony not guilty, said Jennifer Ford, who identified herself as Juror No. 3, in an interview with ABC News.
"We were sick to our stomach to get that verdict. We were crying, and not just the women," Ford said of the 12 jurors in the ABC interview.
The tears were still flowing Wednesday as Juror No. 2 (he did not want to be identified by name) spoke to Florida's St. Petersburg Times.
"I just swear to God … I wish we had more evidence to put her away. I truly do … But it wasn't there," he said in an emotional interview with the Times.
Juror No.2, who the Times reported is a black male, married and a father of two young children, said he was the last holdout on the jury who wanted to convict Anthony on a lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter, which would have carried a prison term of up to 15 years, according to the newspaper.
The prosecution's inability to prove who was Caylee's caretaker at the time of her death, Casey Anthony or the girl's grandparents, doomed the manslaughter charge, Juror No. 2 said.
"We truly don't know what happened. Somebody knows, but we don't know," he said in the Times interview.
Ford told ABC that prosecutors left key questions unanswered.
"If you're going to charge someone with murder, don't you have to know how they killed someone or why they might have killed someone, or have something where, when, why, how? Those are important questions. They were not answered," she said in the ABC interview.
An alternate juror, who was present for the trial and sequestered along with the serving jurors, said he would have voted for acquittal, too.
"They didn't show us how Caylee died. They didn't show us a motive. I'm sorry people feel that way. ... These were 17 total jurors. They really listened to this case and kept an open mind," ABC News quotes Russell Huekler as saying.
While those three people have spoken about the case, at least one of the sitting jurors wants money for the behind-the-scenes story.
The man, identified as Juror No. 6, wants $50,000 for his story and has hired a publicist, CNN contributor Howard Kurtz reports for The Daily Beast.
An Australian cycling star died Wednesday after being struck by a car while she was riding in Italy, Australian media reported.
Carly Hibberd, 26, was killed on a morning training ride north of Milan, according to the Courier-Mail in Brisbane.
"I'm very, very sorry, I ride that road too," Australian champion Cadel Evans tweeted from the Tour de France, AdelaideNow reported.
Colombian cyclist Diego Tamayo was riding with Hibberd but was not hurt, the Courier-Mail reported.
Hibberd won the women's Cycling Australia National Road Series in 2008 before moving to Italy the following year, according to the Courier-Mail.
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn won't accept any plea bargain and "won't plead guilty to anything," William Taylor, an attorney representing him in a sexual assault case, said Thursday.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, is accused of having attempted to rape the maid when she entered his suite at the Sofitel off Times Square on May 14 to clean it.
On Wednesday, attorneys for Strauss-Kahn said that the defense team had a "constructive meeting" with prosecutors, who maintained that they are not ready to drop sexual abuse and attempted rape charges even after questions were raised about the accuser's credibility.
"The investigative process is continuing, and no decisions have been made," said Manhattan District Attorney spokeswoman Erin Duggan.
The two-hour meeting came just days after prosecutors disclosed credibility issues regarding the hotel maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually attacking her.
Casey Anthony learns her fate as Washington continues to debate the debt ceiling and the consequences of default. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of these developing stories.
Today's programming highlights...
9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony sentencing - Casey Anthony will be sentenced on four counts of lying to police regarding a missing person case.
9:30 am ET - Senate debates debt ceiling - Senators resume discussion on raising the debt ceiling and dealing with deficit reduction.
Three things you need to know today.
Potter premiere: Thousands Harry Potter fans have been camping out in London for the premiere of the last film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," on Thursday.
If you're not in line in Trafalgar Square, EW.com will live stream the red-carpet event beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint will be there along with author J.K. Rowling.
The first fan in line for the London premiere was Nicole Beaudet, a 22-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, who's been waiting in line seven days, reports the Daily Star.
“Harry Potter has been the biggest part of my life. This is the last film, so I blew my life savings to be here,” Beaudet told the Daily Star.
If you're not prepared to fork over that much cash, the film opens in the U.S. and Britain on July 15.
Missing off Mexico: Relatives of seven Americans missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Mexico are seeking donations to help continue their rescue efforts past a search window set to expire Thursday.
Family members are urging crews to keep scouring the waters off the coast of Baja, California past 2 a.m. Thursday, when the search window closes - 96 hours after the boat capsized.
"There is evidence from previous ship wrecks that individuals can survive past the 96 hours," California state Sen. Leland Yee said at a news conference Wednesday night.
One American was killed when the boat with more than 40 people aboard capsized early Sunday in the Sea of Cortez, near Isla San Luis, Mexico, authorities said.
Afghanistan sport killings: Jury selection begins Thursday for an Army sergeant charged in what military authorities say was a conspiracy by a group of soldiers to kill Afghan civilians for sport and then cover it up.
Sgt. Darren Jones is one of 12 soldiers, all members of the Washington-based 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, accused in a case that strained U.S. relations with Afghanistan after details emerged that some of the soldiers allegedly posed with dead Afghans and collected souvenirs from the killings.
Jones is one of six soldiers facing trial and the only one not charged with killing Afghans. Six other soldiers, including one who posed for photos with a dead Afghan, have accepted plea deals.
Jones, who faces courts-martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit assault and battery.