It's been more than 2 years since a Florida jury acquitted Casey Anthony for the murder of her daughter Caylee. The trial was often referred to as "The Social Media Trial of The Century", in part because Florida's Sunshine Law allowed the public access to so much information, and the nation seemed to fall in love with the little girl who was found discarded in the woods.
This case was one of the most widely followed and debated trials on record, perhaps even more than the Jodi Arias trial. Last November, Fox News Insider published an article that cited a key piece of evidence the prosecution failed to bring up at trial - would it have made a difference in the outcome? The evidence was a computer search on the Anthony's home computer on "foolproof suffocation methods", reportedly made on the last day Caylee Anthony was seen alive. Anthony's defense team was aware of the search evidence but wasn't obligated to bring it up at trial, and reportedly was shocked when the prosecution didn't present the evidence.
So what really happened to Caylee, will we ever know the truth? Casey Anthony is the only person who knows what really happened, and I don't think she will ever reveal the details. Once voted the most hated woman in America, Casey Anthony has remained out of the public's eye for the most part since her dramatic release from jail was televised. Her few public appearances have been related to her bankruptcy filing. In January, Anthony filed for bankruptcy claiming she had no assets and was more than $700,000 in debt.
Since the dramatic conclusion to the trial, Judge Belvin Perry Jr. has publicly discussed his surprise at the verdict. He believed there was enough evidence to convict Anthony, although the case was circumstantial in nature. Ultimately, the state may have discounted the appeal of Anthony's inexperienced attorney Jose Baez. Prosecutors Jeff Ashton and Linda Drake Burdick appeared to have the upper hand going against the unknown Baez, and I think Ashton made a monumental mistake in appearing to laugh at him at points during the trial. It's the David vs Goliath thing. Not to say Ashton isn't a great prosecutor, and the two did an excellent job in presenting this case and explaining the scientific evidence - but the jury seemed to want more than science, they wanted to know how Caylee was murdered and perhaps more importantly IF she was murdered.
This is where the state fell short. Little Caylee's remains were found in such poor condition, the medical examiner was unable to tell that story. Still, the evidence was compelling. The duct tape that remained on the skull of Caylee Anthony should have pointed to a murder, or at the very least a highly suspicious death. The second highly suspicious thing the jury should have focused on is why wouldn't a mother report her 2 year old daughter as missing? Who does that? Who would be able to go on with their life, dodging family members and putting people off while continuing seeing their friends and carrying on a romantic relationship? That is highly suspicious in itself. The third point that should have tied this together was the smell in Casey's abandoned car. Who leaves their car, their only form of transportation in a parking lot where it can be towed away? Even days later, numerous people reported the car smelled like death. Another red flag was when raised when a neighbor of the Anthony's told law enforcement that Casey asked to borrow a shovel in the days following the disappearance of Caylee, before anybody even knew she was missing. Why did she need a shovel? Didn't her own family have one? When Caylee's scattered remains were finally found, the same clothes she was wearing the last time the Anthony's saw her leave the house with Casey were nearby. A reasonable person would come to the conclusion that she died within a short time of leaving the Anthony's home. This seems to fly in the face of Baez's defense that Caylee died in a drowning accident - depending on who you believe, George or Casey Anthony. Circumstantial, yes - but the sum of all circumstantial pieces provides a compelling case for foul play.
Did Caylee die accidentally while in the care of her mother? Did she panic, then concoct the kidnapping story, wrapping duct tape around Caylee's mouth to make it look like a kidnapping to whoever found her? Prosecutor Jeff Ashton was unable to say for sure whether the duct tape was placed on Caylee's mouth and nose before or after she died. To me, does that really matter all that much? Like the medical examiner said, there is no reason for a child to have duct tape on her face. No reason, dead or alive. I personally have always believed the duct tape was an amateur attempt at staging the victim or crime scene to make it appear to be something other than what it was. That's what we are used to seeing on television right? When people are kidnapped, they often times have their hands, feet or both bound behind them and have duct tape, blindfolds or both.
Did the jury have unreasonable ideas about what "beyond a reasonable doubt" meant? Looking at another high profile murder case in which there was little direct evidence, including a cause of death are the murders of Laci and Conner Peterson. The condition of their bodies prevented the medical examiner from being able to determine the cause of death. Prosecutors in that case had little physical evidence to present to the jury, but they did have some strong circumstantial evidence that told a story. I'd say Scott Peterson was convicted with less evidence than used in many trials. The California jury that convicted Peterson saw the totality of all of the pieces of evidence, including the behavior of Laci's husband Scott before, during and after her disappearance. I'm sure they had some doubts during their deliberations, but they seemed to grasp what reasonable doubt was.
There have been many theories about what happened to Caylee Anthony, including the theory presented by Jose Baez at trial that Caylee died from an accidental drowning in the family's back yard pool. Baez managed to key in on social media and what people were saying about Casey's father George and they used that information to their own advantage at trial. I thought George Anthony was a very believable witness. He seemed to be completely distraught over the disappearance of Caylee, and his frustration with his daughter during the jailhouse visits was obvious. But some people viewed George as combative - the Anthony's had people camped out on their front yard for weeks, I wouldn't blame anybody for getting irritated and frustrated with that type of activity. I think George was just another victim in the trial, sacrificed for the sake of his daughter. Does anybody believe George Anthony ever abused Casey sexually? I was just as outraged at Baez's opening statements where he made those allegations as I was when Jodi Arias accused Travis Alexander of being a pedophile. These are desperate ploys by manipulative women who use hot button issues to gain sympathy with the jury.
Casey's lies to investigators in this case should have been another huge red flag to the jury. If I were on the jury, it would have been difficult for me to get past the fact that she didn't report Caylee missing - and she lied about having a job and going as far as leaving for work every day, the smell of death in her car, and the biggest whopper of all lies: the fictional nanny "Zanny". It's hard to believe she created this fictitious character, gave details of Zanny's life to her friends and family and nobody ever caught on. How does that happen? Were the Anthony's too busy in their own lives to have wondered why they never EVER saw a photo of Zanny, or ever talked to her on the telephone? Or did they simply trust their daughter? There were so many red flags with the tales Anthony told. But Casey doesn't look like what we have come to expect a killer to look like. Even after her lies were exposed, people had doubts that a mother could kill her daughter. Casey wisely kept quiet after she was arrested. No media interviews, she didn't draw unwanted attention to herself. She had already been exposed as a liar, and many believed strongly that she was a killer.
This case shook Orlando in a big way. The trial was unlike anything we have seen since the OJ Simpson trial, and I'll never forget the footage of people running and pushing and shoving other people to get the highly coveted public seats in the courtroom. If you think a defendant can't get a fair trial with cameras in the courtroom and media coverage, you may want to check out the Casey Anthony trial. It's not the coverage, it's the case. While we may never know the truth behind Caylee's disappearance or how she ended up discarded in the woods near her grandparents home, I can't think of a single reasonable explanation for a mother not reporting her 2 year old child as missing. That in itself should be a felony in every state in America, and I was surprised to learn that it wasn't. Many states have proposed bills that would change current law, making it a felony for a parent or legal guardian to fail to report a missing child, in cases where the parent knew or should have known the child was possibly in danger. Unofficially dubbed "Caylee's Law", the idea for the bill began with protesters who disagreed with the jury's verdict of not guilty on all major charges.
One petition, authored by Michelle Crowder on Change.org gathered more than 1,261,130 electronic signatures (as of 7/19/11). As a result of these grass root movements, legislators in Florida, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia began drafting versions of Caylee's Law. Laws have already been enacted in several states, the potential punishments vary by state. For example, Bill SB1 was approved in Alabama on June 10, 2013 making failure to report a child missing a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, yet Florida Bill HB37 sets punishment at up to 5 years in prison. Regardless, this is an excellent example of how people can ban together and enact positive change in their communities. There is strength in numbers. I can't tell you how many petitions I've signed on Change.org.
So what's happening in the lives of George and Cindy, and brother Lee Anthony in the years since their lives were turned upside down with the death of their beloved Caylee? The Anthony's made news when they reportedly had a yard sale, selling some of Caylee's toys and other belongings. On July 26, 2013 radaronline reported that a woman named Christina Werner filed a police report alleging she was assaulted by Cindy Anthony when she drove by the yard sale and yelled something out of her car window and a "scuffle" ensued. Werner reportedly said "I can't believe you are selling Caylee's belongings", a statement Cindy Anthony did not appreciate. According to radaronline Werner videotaped her experience at the Anthony's June 28 yard sale, where she purchased items believed to be Caylee's and Casey's. Werner said during the interview "I simply will never understand how these grandparents can put a price tag on Caylee's items. I can understand Casey's things, but I will never understand how they could part with these things".
I don't think it was appropriate for this woman to be videotaping anything at the Anthony's yard sale - seems to me, she was exploiting the situation since she was interviewed at least twice by radaronline. The Anthony's have been to hell and back, and whether you like them, or approve of the way they handled the worst thing that could happen to a family they don't deserve to remain under the public spotlight years later. Let them live their lives without judgement. They lost their Caylee, and who knows if they have any type of relationship with Casey now. Wesh.com reported that Cindy and George are considering filing a lawsuit against Werner for videotaping their yard sale. So the battles continue.
Cindy and George are said to be setting up another foundation in memory of Caylee, according to www.issues.com. Called "Caylee's Fund", the foundation lists three main objectives:
1) Grandparents rights
2) Helping missing and exploited children
3) Lobbying for Caylee's Law
Many of you (myself included) may be saying WAIT A MINUTE....remembering what happened with the Anthony's FIRST charitable foundation in Caylee's memory, "cayleemarieanthonyfoundation.net", where they reportedly used 80% of the charitable donations for "administrative expenses". That raises the "WTF" factor in a big way, as little of the money donated was actually found to be used for the purpose of helping any victim. The foundation account was eventually closed, and it was widely believed that the fund was being used to pay Cindy and George's expenses via salaries. And let's not forget that the same person ("SJ") who is running a website for Jodi Arias ran a website for Casey Anthony that is an exact replica of the newer Arias website. I really hate that there are snakes out there who would exploit the public, accepting donations for a good cause that end up being used for something else altogether. Many regard "SJ" as nothing more than an opportunist, a scammer and somebody who creates false positive postings on these websites to make it appear that Arias and Anthony had supporters.
The Caylee Marie Anthony Foundation's "Statement of Revenue" from 12/31/2009 says it all:
Total Revenue: $2,580.72
Total Expenses: $3,107.49
Program Service Expenses: $630.25
Administrative Expenses: $2,477.24
Fund Raising Expenses: $0.00
Cindy and George plan on drawing salaries on the new foundation as well. They claim they have been unable to find employment due to their notoriety. Hmmm. I can see how the Anthony's notoriety may effect employment opportunities, but they both have marketable skills and had professional careers before Caylee's disappearance and murder turned their lives upside down. The Polly Klaas Foundation is a shining example of how a charitable foundation should be run and handled. Mark Klaas has been a huge presence and strong voice for the plight of missing and exploited children. The Anthony's should follow suit if they want to be successful this time around.
While some people out there continue to lash out at Cindy and George Anthony, accusing them of helping Casey dodge the murder charge - I truly believe they wanted justice for Caylee, and they seemed just as shocked by the verdict as the public was. Just my opinion, please don't bash me for stating it. It was my belief that George Anthony in particular believed Casey was responsible for what happened to Caylee, and he seemed particularly distraught and torn apart by what happened to his entire family. The defense tore him apart, using his depression and suicide attempt against him. Way to exploit the misery of a grieving grandfather Mr. Baez. Whatever you need to say to get your client acquitted. I wonder if Jose Baez truly believes that Casey is completely innocent, or if he was just doing what defense attorneys do - get a favorable verdict, at whatever cost - George Anthony's reputation was the cost. Makes me wonder how some of these defense attorneys sleep at night?