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Kansas City Star – Spectacle that was Casey Anthony trial comes to a surprising end

Posted by 4love2love on July 6, 2011

By KYLE HIGHTOWER

The Associated Press


Defense attorney José Baez and Casey Anthony hugged Tuesday after the jury acquitted Anthony of murdering her daughter, Caylee.  Go to Kansas City.com for a photo  gallery.
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Defense attorney José Baez and Casey Anthony hugged Tuesday after the jury acquitted Anthony of murdering her daughter, Caylee. Go to Kansas City.com for a photo gallery.

ORLANDO, Fla. | Casey Anthony’s eyes welled with tears and her lips trembled as the verdict was read once, twice and then a third time: “Not guilty” of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Outside the courthouse, many in the crowd of 500 reacted with anger, chanting, “Justice for Caylee!” One man yelled, “Baby killer!”

In one of the most divisive verdicts since O.J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife, Anthony was cleared Tuesday of murder, manslaughter and child-abuse charges after weeks of wall-to-wall TV coverage and armchair-lawyer punditry.

Anthony, 25, was convicted only of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators who were looking into the child’s June 2008 disappearance.

Anthony could get up to a year behind bars on each count when she is sentenced Thursday. But since she has been in jail for nearly three years already, she could walk free. Had she been convicted of murder, she could have gotten the death penalty.

After a trial of a month and a half, the Florida 9th Judicial Circuit Court jury took less than 11 hours to reach a verdict in a case that had become a national cable TV sensation.

Prosecutors contended that Anthony — a single mother living with her parents — suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend.

Defense attorneys argued that the little girl accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool, and that Anthony panicked and concealed the death because of the traumatic effects of sexual abuse by her father.

State’s Attorney Lawson Lamar said: “We’re disappointed in the verdict today because we know the facts and we’ve put in absolutely every piece of evidence that existed.”

The prosecutor lamented the lack of hard evidence, saying, “This is a dry-bones case. Very, very difficult to prove. The delay in recovering little Caylee’s remains worked to our considerable disadvantage.”

Anthony failed to report Caylee’s disappearance for a month. The child’s decomposed body was eventually found in the woods near her grandparents’ home six months after she was last seen. A medical examiner was never able to establish how she died, and prosecutors had only circumstantial evidence that Caylee had been killed.

“While we’re happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case,” Anthony attorney José Baez said after the verdict. “Caylee has passed on far, far too soon, and what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee. It’s that simple. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.”

Given the relative speed with which the jury came back, many court-watchers were expecting Anthony to be convicted and were stunned by the outcome.

Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial, during which they listened to more than 33 days of testimony and looked at 400 pieces of evidence. Anthony did not take the stand.

The case became a macabre tourist attraction. People camped outside for seats in the courtroom, and scuffles broke out among those desperate to watch the drama unfold.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick showed the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Anthony smiling and partying in a nightclub during the first month Caylee was missing. The other was the tattoo Anthony got a day before law enforcement learned of the child’s disappearance: the Italian words for “beautiful life.”

“At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?” Burdick asked. “This is your answer.”

Prosecutors also focused heavily on an odor in the trunk of Anthony’s car, which forensics experts said was consistent with the smell of human decay. But the defense argued that the air analysis could not be duplicated, and that maggots in the trunk had come from a bag of trash.

Prosecutors hammered away at the lies Anthony told when the child was missing: She told her parents that she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zanny — a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.

Baez contended that the toddler drowned and that when Anthony panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder by putting duct tape on the girl’s mouth and dumping the body in the woods a quarter-mile away. Anthony’s father denied both the cover-up and abuse claims.

The verdict could divide people for years to come, just as the Simpson case did, with some believing Anthony got away with murder.

Posted on Tue, Jul. 05, 2011 11:23 PM

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/05/2996565/legal-spectacle-comes-to-surprising.html#ixzz1RMlJFz00

Copyright 2011 Kansas City Star/Associated Press

 

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