In July 2011, a majority of the U.S. was shocked to hear that Casey Anthony had been found not guilty for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Her remains were found months after she was last seen, inside of a laundry bag, wrapped in her blanket, in a wooded area not far from the Anthony home. Upon her interrogation, Casey Anthony lied to detectives on several occasions about everything from where she worked to the elaborate tale that a babysitter named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez had taken Caylee. She was arrested in July of 2008 after lying to detectives about her place of employment and where her “nanny,” (later found to be non-existent) lived and watched Caylee. The charges were murder, child neglect, making false statements, and obstruction.
The prosecution posed a very interesting case, persuading most that Casey Anthony had, in fact, killed and dumped her baby’s body. They painted her as a party girl, who longed to have a carefree life without the responsibility of a toddler. The defense argued that Caylee had passed away in an awful accident, drowning in the family pool. After which Casey’s father, George, helped cover up the death. Accusations of sex abuse from Casey to her father had been intended to show where Casey had learned to keep a secret, such as the alleged drowning of her daughter.
The prosecution sought charges of first-degree murder, which makes the death penalty an option. They pushed forward with that punishment. Unlike other murder charges, first-degree suggests premeditation of the crime. The prosecution tried to show through evidence that Casey Anthony purposefully killed her daughter. Here is a brief list of some of the prosecution’s evidence supporting their theory:
- The laundry bag Caylee had been found in matched another found in the Anthony home
- The blanket she was discovered in matched a Winnie the Pooh set found in her room
- Tape was found over her mouth, although the defense argued it could have moved there in the transportation of the body
- The car Casey had been driving, which ended up being towed before the police were alerted to the missing child, had trace samples of cloroform as well as a hair displaying “death banding”. Through DNA, the hair could be proven to belong to an Anthony woman, but untreated by bleaches and dyes. Since both older Anthony women were alive, the prosecution argued this had to be Caylee’s hair, proving she had been in the trunk of her mother’s car at some point.
- Most notable, Casey knew of her daughter’s “disappearance” for a full 31 days before she alerted anyone. To all, she appeared normal, and even made up excuses when her parents asked about Caylee. Casey argued that she did not tell anyone because she was trying to find Caylee through her own resources.
The jury deliberated for 10 hours before returning with their verdict of not-guilty of first-degree murder. She is convicted with four counts of providing false information to police in the investigation and sentenced to time served and ordered to pay thousands in fines. The jurors who delivered that verdict were ushered from the court room with heavy police protection. One juror defended their verdict.
“I did not say she was innocent,” said Juror #3, “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.”ABC NEWS
In the end, the jurors belived that enough evidence had not been presented to render a verdict of guilty without a reasonable doubt. The jurors found they could not sentence Casey Anthony to death even with the abount of evidence presented. Also to qualify for first-degree murder, the prosecutor had to prove premeditation, which they just couldn’t seem to do. While in the court of public opinion, Casey Anthony is presumed guilty, the court of law spoke in 2011, declaring there was not sufficient evidence of her guilt. Had the charge been different, instead of first-degree murder, perhaps the verdict would have been different.