A look back at the top national stories of 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 6:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 6:04pm

Here's a look back at the top stories of 2012.

- After former Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno lost his battle with cancer, his family released a statement saying:
"He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been."

- The gun shots rang out before the first bell at Chardon High School. Five students gunned down, three were fatally wounded. Injuries to the two others are not considered life threatening

- Tornado alley turned deadly. Severe storms spawned dozens of tornados from Indiana to Tennessee.

- The Justice Department acknowledged that investigators and agents with the FBI are now looking into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

- A win for John Edwards in his campaign corruption trial - the jury finding him not guilty on one of six charges he faced and deadlocked on the other five.

- It was just after midnight when a showing of “The Dark Knight" quickly moved from fiction to reality. Police say 24-year-old James Holmes was dressed in full body armor and wearing a gas mask when he burst through an exit door during the premier of the Batman movie. He was charged with 24 counts of First-Degree Murder for the twelve killed in the attack, and 116 Attempted First-Degree Murder charges for the 58 injured.

- After a harrowing eight-month journey through space and a nail-biter of a landing, Curiosity is already hard at work sending back snapshots, including one of the rover casting a shadow on its new home.

- All 114 counties in Missouri have been declared disaster areas. 93 percent of the state is suffering through extreme drought conditions.

- Minutes after being found guilty on 45 of 48 counts against him, former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky was taken away in handcuffs, essentially receiving a life sentence. Jerry Sandusky left the Center County Courthouse from a back door in cuffs and a red/orange jumpsuit, showing little emotion just minutes after being sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

- At top speeds of just 2 miles an hour, officials navigated a 170,000 pound shuttle through the city of Los Angeles, carefully avoiding trees, street lights and even coming within inches of some buildings.

- Hurricane Sandy barreled into the northeast, technically downgraded to a post tropical system. However, the storm still delivering a ferocious blow as it came ashore. Homes sit ripped from their foundations and streets now resemble sand dunes. In Seaside Heights, pieces of the once popular vacation spot float in the ocean.

- With more than 300 electoral votes and a majority of the popular vote, President Obama headed back to the White House.

- It's a tragedy of unimaginable horror - 20 elementary school children brutally murdered by a gunman who walked into a school and opened fire. 

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