Thursday, July 7, 2011

Casey Anthony, Not Guilty

Photo: Caylee Anthony

First of all, for full disclosure: I didn't watch most of the trial, and most of what I have to say has to do with the little I did watch, and what was in the papers.  (I try not to pay attention to the talking heads; I admit that the papers are often not much better.)  I also point out that being on the jury and talking about being on the jury are two entirely different things.

So I pointed out to someone recently that the defense did not have to prove that Casey did not commit murder.  I had to say this because this person said that her defense didn't prove that she didn't do it.  I brought up 12 Angry Men, and got a blank look, so I just mentioned that the defense doesn't have to prove that she didn't do it (good thing, because it sure didn't) and it doesn't have to make her testify in her own defense (another good move; the prosecution would've roasted her alive and her defense would've gone up in flames).  The only thing that matters here is that the prosecution must prove without a reasonable doubt (important phrase) that she DID do it, and that she did so with all definitions of murder; that is to say, premeditation, etc.  Clearly the prosecution did not prove this; I can understand this.  Another caveat is that Florida has the death penalty, and the jury felt maybe that the prosecution didn't have enough to hand down a guilty verdict knowing that she'd maybe go to the chair (or whatever Florida's method is).  I understand that as well.  See 12 Angry Men again for a good example of this.

What I don't get is that the prosecution allowed the jury to hand down a lesser verdict of manslaughter if the jury felt that was more prudent.  I have to admit that I don't know why they didn't do that.  Casey bought chloroform and researched its uses on the internet.  If you want to say that you can't prove it wasn't her father or someone else using the computer at the time of the research, okay, but what about buying the chloroform?  What about when she backed the car up in the garage and put shovels in the trunk?  What about all the lies she told investigators--which even this jury admitted she did?  What about the car smelling of death?  What about her excessively inappropriate behavior after the disappearance but before the body was found, when, as it turns out, she knew her daughter was dead, such as partying, smiling, getting tattoos, etc.?

The jury response, apparently, is that it all doesn't matter.  I understand most of the above is circumstantial evidence, but the chloroform and shovels?  The research?  And for manslaughter, if not for murder?  I don't know; I've seen people convicted on less, especially for manslaughter, which, again, was an option for this jury.  It also said that she was not guilty of child abuse, which I also do not understand, as she was the mother, and there was ample evidence of abuse.

So, again, I didn't see most of the trial.  I can't speak of the prosecution's missteps, if there were any.  But I can tell you this: Before the jury's verdict for the O.J. trial (you knew the comparison was coming), the media was screaming at every single prosecution mistake--of which there were a great many.  I didn't see that here.  I did see (on television), however, what I saw as an inept defense.  (Find that blog entry below.)  Apparently I was very wrong, but for the life of me, I wouldn't want that team defending me.  Well, now, after this, maybe I would.

I leave this trial now under the impression that the jury would tell us that they voted "not guilty," not "innocent."  I believe each juror feels that she did it, or had something substantial to do with it, but that it just wasn't proven to their satisfaction.  I don't find fault with this jury as I did with O.J.'s jury.  I think they knew they'd be crucified for a "not guilty" verdict and gave it anyway because they believed it was just.  I respect that.  (The O.J. jurors, by comparison, seemed blown away by the negative reaction towards them, as if they'd never considered the aftereffects.)  So be it; a jury shouldn't hand down a verdict depending on whatever repercussions they believe they'll sustain, anyway.  I agree with the prosecution's guy when he said that everyone did their jobs well--prosecution, defense, jury, everyone.  I believe that.  I believe that the prosecution is probably devastated, despite that guy's brave face, and I'd be surprised if some of them didn't believe that they'd failed a 2-year old girl.  I'd be surprised if a couple of the jurors didn't feel the same way.

I'd love to know what the jurors were thinking, but they're not talking yet, and I don't blame them for that, either.  They'll talk when their book deals come out, I assure you.  In a way, I don't blame them for that.  I don't blame the judge for anything.  No Lance Ito here.  And Casey will never again be charged with this crime, or any of the others, since she was technically charged with the possibility of manslaughter, etc.  She is, and always will be, free.  She won't get a job again until she changes her name, but the public has a short memory, and with a name change and a different living place, she'll be fine.  Nike resigned Michael Vick, after all.  I believe she got away with something, but I also believe the system worked.  I'd like the father and brother investigated, and Casey had better stay sober for the rest of her life, but it is what it is.  It sucks, but we have no choice.  Let's move on.


  1. I really didn't follow this case much at all (I need to start reading more American news, but I can't stand the talking heads on CNN either and their 24-hour news cycle, and wind up reading the BBC most days anyway, along with NPR in the car), but when the verdict was due to be delivered someone at the university I work at sent an email out to the staff encouraging people to watch. So I googled up some information. I have to admit that I am adamantly against the death penalty (always have been), and of course I don't know all the details, but from what I've read it seems (as you note) clear that she did *something*, and it feels unfair to her little daughter that she doesn't at least get more jail time.

    I just hope I never have to sit on a jury and make a life or death decision. I don't think I could do that.

    Someone doesn't know 12 Angry Men? Shame!

  2. The jurors I've heard have said that they voted her "not guilty," not "innocent." It bothered them tremendously to have to vote that. The more I hear about this case, the more it becomes clear to me that the prosecution simply didn't prove its case. All of the DA's bravo talk afterwards was him saving face--as that case was his last--or it's a shocking example of denial and incompetence.