JURY’S OUT - CASEY ANTHONY NOT GUILTY OF MURDER
(By Amy Pavuk and Bianca Prieto, Orlando Sentinel) — Casey Anthony is not guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of her two-year-old daughter Caylee Marie.
After deliberating for less than 11 hours over two days, a 12-member jury decided this afternoon that prosecutors did not prove Casey Anthony was guilty of capital murder in the death of the toddler.
After the courtroom was cleared, defense attorney Jose Baez said, “While we are happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case.”
He said Caylee passed away much too young, but added: “Casey did not murder Caylee; it’s just that simple.”
In the first floor café at the public defender’s office adjacent to the courthouse, a crowd of spectators howled as the not guilty verdicts were read.
Inside the courtroom on the 23rd floor of the courthouse, Casey Anthony embraced Baez. Prosecutors Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick looked somber.
Casey’s Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony — who underwent repeated rounds of emotional questioning during the trial — left court early.
Soon after, their attorney issued the following statement:
“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 defense 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 Honorable Judge Perry to guide them.
The statement, issued by Mark Lippman, said the family wants privacy to reflect on the verdict and “decide the best way to move forward privately.”
The verdict means 25-year-old Casey Anthony was found not guilty of all charges except for four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
As soon as the jury left the courtroom, Casey Anthony tightly hugged Baez, and then the rest of her defense team huddled around her, some of them crying. The defense team appeared giddy — all were smiling, including Casey Anthony, while she was being fingerprinted.
In a news conference after the verdict, defense attorney Cheney Mason lashed out at the media and at the legal pundits that have been following the case for three years.
“I hope that this is a lesson to those of you that have indulged in media assassination the last three years,” said Mason. He expressed anger at some of his fellow attorneys commenting on the case and criticizing the defense. He expressed appreciation for the jury.
State Attorney Lawson Lamar in a separate press conference across the street from the courthouse, called the case that has spread over three years a “dry bones case” that was “very, very difficult to prove.” He was surrounded by Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, several investigators from the Sheriff’s Office who worked on the case and others.
Lamar said the delay in discovering Caylee’s bones was a “considerable disadvantage” for the state.
However, he did not criticize the jury’s decision and said the defense did its job.
“Despite what your personal view as to guilt or innocence may be, the criminal justice system has worked. We did our job. The jury did their job,” he said. “This is justice in America.”