Casey Anthony to go free next week

Posted July 07, 2011, at 8:59 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Casey Anthony will be freed next week after spending nearly three years in jail on accusations she killed her 2-year-old daughter, punctuating a case that captured the nation’s attention and bitterly divided many over whether she got away with murder.

While cleared of charges of killing and abusing her daughter Caylee, Anthony was convicted of lying to investigators and sentenced Thursday to four years, the maximum punishment. But she was given credit for the time she has already served and her good behavior, and she was set to be released Wednesday. Judge Belvin Perry also fined her $1,000 on each of the four counts.

The scene outside the courthouse highlighted the divide that has had social networking sites abuzz since the not guilty verdict was announced Tuesday. Amid increased police presence, a throng o f protesters gathered, holding signs that said “Arrest the Jury!!” and “Jurors 1-12 Guilty of Murder.” Nearby, a handful of supporters also turned out, including a man who held a sign asking Anthony to marry him.

New Jersey man arrested in stolen Picasso drawing

SAN FRANCISCO — The case of a stolen Picasso has been cracked — and police said Thursday it was a New Jersey man who walked into downtown San Francisco art gallery, snatched the drawing and fled in a taxi.

Police arrested Mark Lugo, 31, of Hoboken, N.J., on Wednesday at an apartment in Napa, and found the artwork stripped from its frame. The 1965 pencil-on-paper drawing — titled “Tete de Femme” — was purchased at a spring auction in New York. It’s worth about a quarter-million dollars.

“I’ve had some sleepless nights,” said Rowland Weinstein, who owns the art gallery. “I feel very, very lucky and very relieved that the Picasso wasn’t harmed and will be returned back safely.”

Lugo faces burglary, grand theft and drug charges and is being held on $5 million bail. He has been in the area since July 4, said Police Chief Greg Suhr.

Texas executes Mexican after court stay rejected

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas executed a Mexican citizen Thursday for the rape-slaying of a teenager after he and the White House pleaded in vain for a Supreme Court stay, saying he was denied help from his home country that could have helped him avoid the death penalty.

In his last minutes, Humberto Leal repeatedly said he was sorry and accepted responsibility.

“I have hurt a lot of people. … I take full blame for everything. I am sorry for what I did,” he said in the death chamber.

“One more thing,” he said as the drugs began taking effect. Then he shouted twice, “Viva Mexico!”

“Ready warden,” he said. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

He grunted, snored several times and appeared to go to sleep, then stopped all breathing movement. The 38-year-old mechanic was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.

He was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after he left a San Antonio street party with her. She was bludgeoned with a piece of 30- to 40-pound chunk of asphalt.

Doctors use lab-made windpipe in transplant

STOCKHOLM — A 36-year-old man who had tracheal cancer has received a new lab-made windpipe seeded with his own stem cells in a procedure in Sweden they call the first successful attempt of its kind, officials said Thursday.

The Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm said the surgery was performed June 9, and that the patient is on his way to a “full recovery.” He will be released from a hospital Friday.

Karolinska said the patient, whose late-stage cancer had almost fully blocked his windpipe, had no other options since no suitable donor windpipes were available.

Professor Paolo Macchiarini said the surgery at Karolinska “is the first synthetic tissue engineered windpipe that has been successfully transplanted.” To perform the surgery, an international team lead by Macchiarini built a scaffold and a bioreactor to seed it with the patient’s stem cells. New cells to line and cover the windpipe were then grown on the scaffold for two days before it was transplanted.

Windpipe transplants have previously been performed using donor windpipes and the patients’ own stem cells. But this latest surgery in Sweden is the first to use a man-made organ.

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