July 4th, 2011
01:40 PM ET

Letters to the President: #896 'Happy Independence Day'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is celebrating the Fourth of July, possibly by rereading all my letters to the White House since last year…or maybe not.

Dear Mr. President,

My wife makes this great cake every Fourth of July. She arranges these slices of pound cake in a shallow pan, smothers them in whipped cream, then makes a flag pattern on top with strawberries and blueberries. It is delicious!

Usually she whips it up the day before the holiday, and then we slice into it after we barbeque. When you are all loaded up with burgers, corn on the cob, shrimp, watermelon, and whatever else we’ve made, I must say it is the perfect coup de grace. Most times there is enough left to have seconds after we’ve gone to the fireworks display down on the National Mall.

July 4th, 2011
01:28 PM ET

Casey Anthony's fate now in jurors' hands

(CNN) - Jurors in the Casey Anthony capital murder trial ended their first day of deliberations Monday without reaching a decision as to whether she is guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008.

Deliberations began after prosecutors completed closing arguments in the case and the panel received instructions from Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. He released the jurors for the day at 6 p.m., some five hours and 50 minutes after they got the case. They will resume deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with seven counts, including first-degree murder; aggravated manslaughter of a child; aggravated child abuse; and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. If convicted of first-degree murder, she could receive the death penalty.

She has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and denies harming her daughter.

Prosecutors allege that the Orlando woman used chloroform to render Caylee unconscious before putting duct tape over her nose and mouth to suffocate her. She left Caylee's body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it, they allege. The little girl's skeletal remains were found in December 2008 near the Anthony home.

Casey Anthony's defense attorneys have alleged that Caylee was not murdered at all, but drowned in the Anthonys' above-ground pool on June 16, 2008, the day she was last seen. Casey Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked upon finding the body, the defense claims, and covered up the death. George Anthony denied that in testimony.

Caylee was not reported missing until July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, called police after tracking her daughter down and demanding answers.

During deliberations, Casey Anthony was held in the courthouse building, according to court spokeswoman Karen Levey. Prosecutors were close by, and defense attorneys may be in their workroom in the courthouse. The five alternate jurors were taken back to their hotel after being separated from the jury, added Levey.

Perry told the seven-woman, five-man jury if they decide Casey Anthony is not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, they can decide whether to convict her of a less serious charge - second-degree murder, manslaughter or third-degree felony murder. Similarly, they can convict her of child abuse rather than aggravated child abuse.

Updated: 6:43 p.m.

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