Can you blame the jury for the verdict in Casey Anthony's murder trial?
So what proof did the prosecution have? Caylee's decomposed body was discovered in the woods near her grandparent's house on December 11, 2008, almost five months after she was reported missing by her grandmother.
The first piece of circumstantial evidence was that Casey Anthony failed to report her daughter missing.
During a deposition in her civil trial, Casey Anthony testified that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, after she had left her daughter with the babysitter. This later turned out to be a fabrication, as "Zanny" does not exist.
At the criminal trial, Casey Anthony's defense lawyer claimed that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and the death was covered up to avoid accusations of child neglect. This new argument directly contradicted the testimony given by Casey Anthony at her deposition in the civil lawsuit.
The Prosecution's Proof: Circumstantial Evidence
The prosecutors claimed that Casey Anthony used chloroform to render Caylee unconscious before putting duct tape over her nose and mouth to suffocate her. In support of this claim, the prosecution offered evidence that Casey Anthony's family computer had been used for Google searches for the following keywords, "neck breaking", "how to make chloroform" and "death". Other Google searches on the family computer related to the use of chloroform and how to make it.
Casey's mother, Cindy Anthony, testified that she used the family computer to search for chloroform. However, the computer records indicated that the Google searches about chloroform were made while Cindy Anthony would have been working.
The prosecution pointed to the odor in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car, which their experts concluded was consistent with the smell of human decay. There was no DNA or fingerprints in the trunk.
The prosecution showed photographs of Casey Anthony smiling and partying at a nightclub during the first month that Caylee was missing and a tattoo reading, "beautiful life", that she got the day before law enforcement officials learned that Caylee was missing.
A medical examiner was never able to establish how Caylee died.
The Jury's Response to Public Outrage
A female juror told reporters that the jurors were "sick to our stomachs" over the verdict. The juror explained that, "I did not say she was innocent. I just said there was not enough evidence."
This was the consensus of the other jurors interviewed after the verdict, to wit, in this "CSI age", they expected DNA and fingerprints from the prosecution. There simply was not enough evidence to conclude that Casey Anthony committed the murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
My take on the verdict
The public's reaction was understandable, yet misguided. The public wants someone to be held accountable for Caylee's death, as it is very likely that she was murdered.
The proof against Casey Anthony was entirely circumstantial. There was no evidence explaining how the two year old child, Caylee, died and there were no witnesses to the alleged murder. There was no evidence of a motive for the alleged murder.
While there was serious issues about Casey Anthony's credibility and inconsistent versions of what happened to Caylee, was that enough proof? Make no mistake--this was not "OJ #2" (sorry OJ, you were guilty as sin--a perfect example of a jury that ignored the evidence).
If the job of this jury was to decide whether it was more likely than not that Casey Anthony murdered Caylee, there is little doubt Casey would have been found guilty. Instead, the jury applied the burden of proof that applies to criminal trials, namely, "beyond a reasonable doubt" and in this author's opinion, they arrived at the right result.
You are always welcome to call me on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 to speak with me about your thoughts concerning this controversial verdict.