Fordham Law


'The biggest failure by a jury since OJ': Outrage over shock acquittal of Casey Anthony... and will she now cash in on her notoriety?

Deborah Denno in Daily Mail, July 06, 2011

Media Source

 By John Stevens

Last updated at 1:54 PM on 6th July 2011

The sensational acquittal of Casey Anthony sparked outrage across the U.S. as angry spectators compared the trial’s outcome to the infamous verdict in the OJ Simpson case.

With the 25-year-old defendant poised to walk free tomorrow morning and sell her story for millions, commentators savaged the jury for failing to find her guilty of the murder of her daughter Caylee.

Marcia Clark, the prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case said that the jury's decision was 'far more shocking' than when the athlete was cleared in 1995.

Scroll down for video of verdict
Cleared: Verdict: Casey Anthony stands with her lawyer Jose Baez as she is sensationally found not guilty of all but four lesser charges

Former Michigan Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said the verdict was: 'Like the OJ Simpson case - a clear failure of the jury system.'

'Just because we say the jury system we have is the best, that doesn’t make it perfect.'

Meanwhile TV presenter and legal expert Nancy Grace, who has been one of the most prominent analysts of the case, said 'the devil was dancing' after the jury returned not guilty verdicts.

The single mother has already been inundated with lucrative offers of book, film and even porn deals, but no firm deals have yet been struck to tell Anthony's story, which has gripped and fascinated a nation.

A jury of seven woman and five men took ten hours to clear her of charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Anthony smiled with delight as she was cleared of the murder of Caylee, after one of the most controversial verdicts in recent history.

Hundreds of people outside the Orange County Courtroom in Orlando, Florida, gasped yesterday as the verdict was made public.

Anthony had been accused of drugging her young daughter, suffocating her and dumping her body in overgrown woodland.

The verdict, which stunned many, drew a dramatic line under a compelling trial, which has seen a family torn apart by accusations of rape and incest.

Former prosecutor Mr Marlinga said he was 'shocked.....stunned and a little bit sickened' by the jury's decision'.

He said: 'I’ve probably never seen a better circumstantial case.

'Juries have to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.That doesn’t mean beyond all doubt,' he told the Detroit Free Press.

He added the prosecution overplayed Anthony as a party girl.

He said: 'A guilty person would have kept a low-profile, would have immediately reported the supposed kidnapping and immediately disposed of the body.

 'They tried to pretend that the weakness was a strength. Sometimes the prosecution tries to whistle past the graveyard.

'They could have painted a more coherent case that the girl died as the result of child abuse.'

Anthony, who had been facing the death penalty, hugged defence attorney Jose Baez when the jury's verdict was revealed. As the jury left, she burst into tears.

The jury accepted Anthony's account of events that Caylee drowned in the family pool on June 16.

She had initially claimed her daughter had been kidnapped, but on the opening day of the trial, the defence team made the surprise claim that the toddler had died in an accident.

The defence accused Anthony's father George Anthony of sexually abusing her as a child, and suggested the dysfunctional relationship explained Casey's behaviour after her own daughter's death. Mr Baez acknowledged Anthony's actions as 'bizarre' and 'inappropriate'.

Four days after the defence claim Caylee died, Anthony paraded in a 'hot body' contest at a nightclub and friends said she showed no signs of distress, anxiety or depression.

Mr Baez had told the court that Mr Anthony had a role in disposing of the body and bullied his daughter into keeping it all secret.

On the final day of the trial, Anthony reportedly mouthed either 'it's not his fault' or 'because it's his fault' while prosecutors said she was trying to pin the death on her father.

After jurors heard Anthony's mother Cindy may have left a ladder in the pool where the child allegedly drowned, prosecutors said: 'Casey Anthony would have you believe that this is all her mother's fault anyway for leaving the ladder down, let's twist the knife in my mum a little bit more.'

Casey reportedly mouthed: 'I never said anything like that, it wouldn't have been my mum.'

After such a harrowing trial it has emerged that George and Cindy Anthony are not sure if they would welcome Casey back into the family. Following the surprise verdict, they walked out of the courtroom in silence.

In a statement they said: 'While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.


'Despite the baseless defence chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented and the rules that were given to them by the Honourable Judge Perry to guide them.

'The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately.'

A jury of seven woman and five men took ten hours to clear Anthony of charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Anthony smiled with delight as she was cleared of the murder of Caylee, after one of the most controversial verdicts in recent history.

Hundreds of people outside the Orange County Courtroom in Orlando, Florida, gasped yesterday as the verdict was made public.

Anthony had been accused of drugging her young daughter, suffocating her and dumping her body in overgrown woodland.

The verdict, which stunned many, drew a dramatic line under a compelling trial, which has seen a family torn apart by accusations of rape and incest.

Former prosecutor Mr Marlinga said he was 'shocked.....stunned and a little bit sickened' by the jury's decision'.

He said: 'I’ve probably never seen a better circumstantial case.

'Juries have to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.That doesn’t mean beyond all doubt,' he told the Detroit Free Press.

He added the prosecution overplayed Anthony as a party girl.

He said: 'A guilty person would have kept a low-profile, would have immediately reported the supposed kidnapping and immediately disposed of the body.

'They tried to pretend that the weakness was a strength. Sometimes the prosecution tries to whistle past the graveyard.

'They could have painted a more coherent case that the girl died as the result of child abuse.'

Anthony, who had been facing the death penalty, hugged defence attorney Jose Baez when the jury's verdict was revealed. As the jury left, she burst into tears.

The jury accepted Anthony's account of events that Caylee drowned in the family pool on June 16.

She had initially claimed her daughter had been kidnapped, but on the opening day of the trial, the defence team made the surprise claim that the toddler had died in an accident.

The defence accused Anthony's father George Anthony of sexually abusing her as a child, and suggested the dysfunctional relationship explained Casey's behaviour after her own daughter's death. Mr Baez acknowledged Anthony's actions as 'bizarre' and 'inappropriate'.

Four days after the defence claim Caylee died, Anthony paraded in a 'hot body' contest at a nightclub and friends said she showed no signs of distress, anxiety or depression.

Mr Baez had told the court that Mr Anthony had a role in disposing of the body and bullied his daughter into keeping it all secret.

On the final day of the trial, Anthony reportedly mouthed either 'it's not his fault' or 'because it's his fault' while prosecutors said she was trying to pin the death on her father.

After jurors heard Anthony's mother Cindy may have left a ladder in the pool where the child allegedly drowned, prosecutors said: 'Casey Anthony would have you believe that this is all her mother's fault anyway for leaving the ladder down, let's twist the knife in my mum a little bit more.'

Casey reportedly mouthed: 'I never said anything like that, it wouldn't have been my mum.'

Dodging the larger charges of murder and child abuse, Casey was found guilty of four lesser counts of lying to investigators, which carry a maximum of one year per count.

As she has already served three years in jail, she is likely to walk free almost immediately. Last night she returned to Orange County jail, where she will wait for sentencing on Thursday at 9am.

As Casey walked into the courtroom to hear her fate at just after 2pm she looked very nervous. She bit her nails anxiously as she spoke to Mr Baez, while her parents watched quietly from the audience.

But as the clerk of the court read the verdicts, her eyes turned red as she tried to fight back the tears. Once all the verdicts were read out she hugged Mr Baez and began to cry.

Later, as the judge spoke to the jury, she could be seen mouthing 'Thank you' to Mr Baez and smiling, before the whole defence team hugged in tears as the session ended.

In a bizarre speech given after the verdict, Mr Baez appeared shaken with emotion as he shamelessly declared that his defence had 'saved a life'.

He told the media he was 'very happy for Casey. I'm ecstatic for her and I want her to be able to grieve and grow and somehow get her life back together' but spent much of the speech focused on how the moment felt for him.

Prosecutors issued a pointed statement after the verdict, saying that despite the not guilty finding 'we kept our promise that we would be finding and proving the truth' about Caylee’s murder.

Appearing outside the courthouse, Lawson Lamar, state attorney in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, paid tribute to the 'precision case' compiled by his team and by investigators, but said that the six months it took to find Caylee’s remains, by which time they had decomposed, ultimately cost them the case.

He said: 'I never, ever criticise a jury. There is the task of deciding what to believe.

'Reasonable doubt goes to each and every element in a case, especially in a case like this, which is a mosaic to prove, with no smoking gun and a tiny victim who was reduced by time and the elements to skeletal remains.

'This was a "dry bones" case - very, very difficult to prove…The delay in recovering little Caylee’s remains worked to our considerable disadvantage.'

'We are disappointed with the verdict today and surprised, because we know the facts and we put in every piece of evidence that existed. Our team did an exemplary job.'

Despite Anthony’s claim that Caylee’s death was a pool drowning accident, Mr Lamar still referred to it as a 'homicide'.

He said: 'This case has never been about the defendant, particularly. It has always been about seeking justice for Caylee and speaking on her behalf… We kept our promise that we would be finding and proving the truth about this child homicide.'

Mr Lamarr said that lead prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick put together a 'precision case' and colleague Jeff Ashton 'presented wonderful scientific evidence.'

He insisted that the state had 'gathered the facts' but adding nonetheless: 'I’d like to thank the jury for their contribution to justice. The task they were asked to complete was difficult.'

He said: 'We did our job. The jury did their job. This is justice in America. We go forward to fight again tomorrow with grateful thanks to all the people who have helped us do our duty.'

Jurors in the trial refused to account publicly for their verdict, leaving Orange County courthouse in a bus to head for home as the judge issued an order protecting their identities.

The members of the jury were asked by a court clerk whether they wished to speak, then left alone to decide their answer. 'When I came back, it was a universal ‘No’, the clerk explained.

A crowd of several hundred people, some carrying placards, rallied outside the courthouse chanting 'We want Casey', some expressing anger at the verdict and others relief.

As people surged forward police shouted at them to ‘back up’ and move away from the building. One young woman collapsed in the heat.

After the verdict became public, many in the crowd shouted 'Justice for Caylee' and 'Baby Killer'.

Mounted police and squad cars were also posted outside the Anthony's home as protesters gathered outside to demonstrate against the decision.

At the spot on Suburban Drive, Orlando, where Caylee’s remains were found on December 11, 2008, a stream of people arrived to lay flowers and soft toys in her memory.

Some heard the verdict over the radio as they stood at the place where her skull and bones were found scattered. 'She got away with murder,' one woman said at the scene.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings issued an appeal for public calm. 'As a verdict has been rendered, we ask our community to respect the decision the jury and the court have made today. In doing so, we ask for your continued peaceful acknowledgement of that verdict,' he said.

'I ask this community that regardless of one’s personal beliefs about the innocence or guilt of Casey Marie Anthony, that you maintain peaceful resolve.'

The trial has captivated the country, producing some of the most sensational scenes inside and outside U.S. courts hearings in recent decades.

Fights broke out outside the court room as people queued to watch the case, and a court house spectator was jailed for six days for contempt of court after he gestured at the prosecution.

As tension built in the courtroom, both attorneys were threatened with being kicked off the case by the judge, and proceedings were stopped after the defence claimed that Casey was not mentally competent to continue.

Prosecutors claimed Casey spun an astonishingly complex web of lies to cover her tracks as she partied for a month after her daughter's disappearance.

They claimed Casey drove around for several days with Caylee's body in her car trunk and then dumped the remains in woods near the Anthony family home.

LEGAL VIEW: HOW WAS SHOCK VERDICT REACHED?

By Professor Deborah Denno - Fordham University

Jurors are in the courtroom day after day and experience a trial in a way no other news commentator, etc can.

'Proof beyond a reasonable doubt' is a difficult standard to reach, particularly in a case that depends entirely on circumstantial evidence.

Although the news said that Casey Anthony was 'hated', the jurors of course looked at the facts differently.

The speed of their deliberation suggests that there was little if any disagreement among them.

Caylee was last seen on June 16, 2008, when Casey left the family home with her, but it was not until a month later that police were notified that she was missing.

Prosecution evidence suggested Casey lied to friends and family about Caylee's whereabouts while she spent time hanging out with her boyfriend, dancing at nightclubs, shopping and getting tattoos.

The single mother gave her parents various excuses as to why they could they could not see Caylee, including: that the girl was with a nanny named Zanny; that she and her daughter were spending time in Jacksonville with a rich boyfriend; and that Zanny had been hospitalised after an out-of-town accident and they were spending time with her.

Finally on July 15 after hearing her daughter's car had been towed, Cindy Anthony confronted Casey and called 911 to report her daughter missing.

In in a distressed call she told the operator that her granddaughter had been missing for a month and that she had found her daughter's car that days and 'it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car.'

When Casey got on the phone, she claimed that her nanny, Zenairda Fernandez-Gonazalez, who was later shown not to exist, had taken Caylee.

She said that she had not reported her missing sooner because she was trying to find her herself, which she admitted was 'stupid'.

The kidnap claim triggered a national search for the toddler and on October 14 2008 Anthony was indicted for murder.

Then on December 11, 2008, the search for Caylee ended when her skeletal remains were found in woods with duct tape hanging from her skull.

Throughout the trial, the public had become fascinated by every move of Casey as they tried to decide could this woman have killed her own two-year-old daughter.

They wanted to hear her testimony but, on day 32 of the trial - as the defence team rested its case - Casey told the judge that she would not be taking to the witness stand.

Ripped apart: What next for the Anthonys?

At the centre of the trial has been a family ripped apart by accusations of incest, rape, adultery and murder. George and Cindy Anthony have always been torn by their roles as both family members of the victim and the parents of the accused, but the shock allegations made during the opening of the trial have completely rocked the family.

Casey's parents, who have been married for 30 years, publicly supported their daughter from her initial arrest in 2008, as they continued to lead the search for their missing granddaughter, to the start of the murder trial.

They have funded Casey's defence lawyers, despite facing threats of foreclosure on their Orlando home - where they have lived since 1989. The couple have sold home videos and photographs of Caylee, which reportedly sold for around $200,000, to organisations including ABC News to help pay for fees.

But the defence accused George Anthony of sexually abusing his daughter from the age of eight, a claim he has strenuously denied.

Defence lawyer Jose Baez also suggested Mr Anthony had a role in disposing the body of little Caylee, aclaim Mr Anthony also denies.

During the trial, the defence also questioned whether tests had been conducted to determine whether Casey Anthony's brother Lee was in fact the father of Caylee.

The judge ruled that no evidence of sexual abuse was presented and prohibited both sides from mentioning the issue in their closing arguments.

The family have denied the defence's account of events that Caylee drowned in their pool.

Cindy Anthony was accused of lying under oath to protect her daughter from the death penalty, when she testified that it was her who had made repeated Google searches for chloroform and neck injuries on the home computer not daughter Casey.

Prosecutors rebutted the claims, citing testimony from Casey's employer, which they claimed she logged on to her computer at work at the time of the searches.