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Top Crime Stories of 2010

Justice Catches Up With Joran Van der Sloot


The top crime stories of 2010 included justice catching up with a twice-accused killer, an extradition that didn't happen, a death row appeal that failed, a serial rapist captured, a court ruling on gun ownership and a suicide that followed months of bullying.

1. Joran Van der Sloot Arrested in Peru

Joran Van der Sloot
College ID Photo

Five years to the day after Alabama teen Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, the chief suspect in her case, Joran Van der Sloot was accused of killing a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in his motel room after meeting her at a Poker tournament in a Lima casino.

2. Home Invasion Killer Gets Death Sentence

Steven Hayes
Mug Shot
Steven Hayes, the first of two defendants to be tried for a Connecticut home invasion robbery that left a mother and her two daughters dead in their burning home was found guilty and given six death sentences for the kidnapping, rapes and murders.

3. Swiss Refuse to Extradite Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski
© Getty Images
Movie director Roman Polanski managed to avoid facing a U.S. judge in connection with his 1978 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl when Swiss officials decided not the extradite him to the United States.

4. Jury Votes Death for Billings Gunman

Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr.
Police Mug Shot
The former Karate instructor who was the accused mastermind and gunman in the home invasion robbery of a Florida couple known for adopting special-needs children was found guilty and sentenced to death in the murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

5. Supreme Court Extends Gun Owner Rights


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all citizens have the right to own guns for self-protection no matter where in the United States they live, preventing states and cities from passing laws that completely ban gun ownership.

6. The Testimony of Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart
© Getty Images
Eight years after she was abducted as a 14-year-old from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Elizabeth Smart testified against Brian David Mithcell, telling the jury the details of her nine-month ordeal while held captive by the self-described prophet.

7. Troy Davis Loses Death Row Appeal

Troy Anthony Davis
Mug Shot
Death row inmate Troy Davis finally got his "innocence hearing" in federal court, but U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. said the evidence presented fell short of proving someone else committed the crime, calling the defense claim "smoke and mirrors."

8. Nevada Serial Rapist Found Guilty

James Biela
Mug Shot
Reno, Nevada got a serial rapist off the street for good when 28-year-old James Biela was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole for the rape and murder of 19-year-old college student Brianna Denison.

9. Lawrence Taylor Charged With Rape

Lawrence Taylor
Police Mug Shot
NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was charged with third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute after police said he had sex with a 16-year-old runaway who was brought to his hotel room by a pimp. Taylor pleaded not guilty.

10. Nine Charged for Bullying Suicide Victim

Phoebe Prince
Family Photo
In a case that brought to light an apparent epidemic of bullying among young people across the nation, nine students were arrested and charged with the systematic bullying of a Massachusetts girl who killed herself after being rape and tormented for months.
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