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CF 13 News – What’s next for Casey Anthony trial after defense rests?

Posted by 4love2love on June 30, 2011

By David Fussell, Legal Expert
Last Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2011 2:00 PM
ORLANDO — What happens after Casey Anthony’s defense team wraps up?


Rebuttal After the defense finishes its’ case the prosecutors may have the opportunity to present a brief rebuttal case. The state does not have to put a rebuttal case on, and in most cases it does not. Nor does the judge have to allow a rebuttal phase. A rebuttal case, is where the state has the opportunity to present evidence which it did not present before which rebuts the defense’s evidence.


If the prosecutor is allowed to offer evidence to rebut the defense case, the defense may be allowed to present surrebuttal. During Surrebuttal the defense would be allowed to present limited evidence which goes only to refuting the evidence the state just presented in the rebuttal portion of the case. Whether a defendant is allowed to present evidence in surrebuttal is discretionary with the court. It is rare surrebuttal is attempted.

Judgment of acquittal

Once all evidence has been presented the defense will renew its motion for judgment of acquittal:

The standard in a judgment of acquittal is whether when the judge views the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, he believes a rational trier of fact could find the existence of the each of the elements of each crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. If so he should deny the motion to acquit. If any of the elements of each charge is not proven he should dismiss that charge. sufficient evidence exists to sustain a convict. However, in a case like the Anthony case, if the State’s evidence is wholly circumstantial, not only must there be sufficient evidence establishing each element of the offense, but the evidence must also exclude each reasonable hypothesis of innocence. “The evidence must “lead ‘to a reasonable and moral certainty that the accused and no one else committed the offense charged. It is not sufficient that the facts create a strong probability of, and be consistent with, guilt. They must be inconsistent with innocence.’”

If the state has not met its burden as to each element the judge should dismiss the charge.

If the court grants a judgment of acquittal as to any single count. That count is dismissed. All remaining charges will go to the jury for decision.

Charging conference

The Jury is responsible for applying the evidence to the law and deciding whether the Ms. Anthony should be found guilty of each charge. The law is explained to the jury by the judge reading and then providing a set of jury instructions to the jury. In Florida there is a set of Standard Jury instructions which is prepared by a committee of The Florida Bar, and approved by the Florida Supreme Court. During the Charging Conference the judge will decide which jury instructions are going to be read to the jury. In deciding the applicable jury instructions the judge will hear arguments from attorneys outside the presence of the jury.

Closing arguments

After the jury instructions are read to the jury, one attorney for each side will be allowed to stand up and make a closing argument. In the closing argument each side attempts to explain the evidence in the manner most advantageous to their client. The state gets to give its closing argument first, followed by the defense. After the defense gives its closing argument the state gets one more chance to stand up, and rebut the argument the defense just provided. The rebuttal closing is supposed to cover only the argument the defense provided and not rehash the state’s entire argument. Lawyer’s refer to the order of the argument as the state having the “sandwich” because the state gets to wrap its arguments around the defense’s argument.

Jury instructions

After both parties finish their closing argument the judge will read the jury instructions agreed upon at the charging conference to the jury. Each juror will also be given a copy of the instructions.

Jury retires

Once the jury is instructed on the law, the judge allows the permanent jurors to go back to the jury room. All alternate jurors will either be dismissed or the judge will keep them separate from the 12 permanent jurors while the permanent jurors deliberate. The judge will most likely dismiss the alternate jurors. The jurors do not know which jurors are alternates until the judge separates them as the permanent jurors retire to deliberate.

All of the evidence introduced in the case is allowed to go back into the jury room with the jury so they can review it if they wish. Once they enter the jury room the first job of the jury is to select a foreman. The Foreman is similar to a chairman of a committee, her or his vote does not count anymore than any other juror but the foreman is in charge of organizing and chairing the deliberations. The jury will remain in the jury room deciding the case, until one of two things happen as to all charges. All 12 jurors reach a verdict on each count, or they determine they cannot reach a verdict on each count, after deliberating and trying their best. A verdict can be either guilty or not guilty. The jury is not responsible for determining whether Ms. Anthony is guilty. The jury may reach a verdict on some counts or charges and not reach a verdict on others. On any count the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury is said to be “hung” on that count and a mistrial will be granted as to that county.


A. If Ms. Anthony Is Found Guilty of First Degree Murder: There will be an additional phase of presentation of evidence. This phase is called the penalty phase. In the penalty phase each side will attempt to persuade the jury to vote for or against the death penalty. Unlike the guilt phase of the trial the vote on the death penalty does not have to be unanimous. Each juror casts a single vote.

During the penalty phase the state will present evidence and argument on what is referred to as “aggravators.” Aggravators are reasons which Florida law allows a jury to determine that the facts of the case are so bad that Ms. Anthony should receive the death penalty. The death penalty in Florida is not to be imposed in all First Degree Murders. Instead it is only to be imposed in the worst of the worst First Degree Murders. The aggravators only include the reasons included in the Florida Death Penalty Statute.

During the penalty phase the defense will present evidence and argument on what is referred to as “mitigators.” Mitigators are not limited by statute and are basically anything which might convince a jury that death is not an appropriate sentence. Just a few of the mitigators in this case may be that, Casey Anthony was normally a good and loving mother, Casey Anthony has never been violent before, Casey Anthony has been a model prisoner, etc.

After the evidence is presented in the penalty phase each side will have the chance to argue whether the death penalty should be imposed. After the argument the jury retires to the jury room again, and decides whether they will recommend to the judge that Ms. Anthony be sentenced to death. Again the jury does not have to agree and the penalty phase verdict is reported out by how many voted for death and how many voted against. If more than six vote for death there will be a sentencing hearing at a later date at which both sides can again to the judge alone whether he should impose the death penalty. While the judge has to consider the jury’s recommendation on the sentence, the judge is the one who decides to impose death.

B. Ms. Anthony is found not guilty of First Degree Murder: If Ms. Anthony is found not guilty of first degree murder there will not be a penalty phase. Instead the judge will determine the appropriate sentence just as he does in any other criminal case. The sentence may be imposed just after the verdict is returned or the judge may schedule a sentencing hearing for some time in the future.

©2011 Central Florida News 13


2 Responses to “CF 13 News – What’s next for Casey Anthony trial after defense rests?”

  1. mary jane barry said

    won;t casey have to go to prision? usually a year and a doy you go to prision.

    • 4love2love said

      she’s been in jail for the last 3 years. Even found guilty of lying to law enforcement, the max she could get would be 4 years. Most likely, she will be given time served because they have to give her credit for the time she’s been in jail.

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