For three years the media reported on Casey Anthony’s allegedly being implicated in the death of her toddler daughter Caylee. Ms. Anthony waited some 30 days to report that her daughter was missing and lied repeatedly to the police about various matters concerning the case. Caylee’s body was eventually found near her grand parent’s property badly decomposed. It was also alleged that during the 30 days prior to the child’s absence being reported Ms. Anthony was out on the town frequenting bars and other night spots. Such a seemingly callous disregard for her child’s whereabouts made her the number one suspect in her daughter’s death. So it came as quite a shock when the jury found Ms. Anthony not guilty of murder and manslaughter. She was found guilty of lesser charges for lying to the police and was sentenced to what will amount to time served as she will be released this week.
None of the jurors would speak to the media but an alternate juror who heard all the evidence but did not deliberate stated that he was surprised by the public’s reaction because he did not believe that the state had proved its case. While it was clear that Ms. Anthony had lied the juror said no motive for killing Caylee was presented and that they had no idea how Caylee died. The latter is important because a murder finding requires that a specific intent to kill be proven by the prosecution. In addition, a manslaughter charge generally requires a killing involving sudden passion or a death resulting from an illegal act. The jurors apparently felt that this could have been an accident which might cause it to fall short of murder or manslaughter. The alternate juror, who is a high school teacher, said that there was evidence from Ms. Anthony’s friends who testified that she was a good mother. The alternate juror felt then that this implied that the death could have been accidental. The alternate juror did not comment on his opinion of her failing to report the child missing for 30 days as a reflection on her mothering ability.
Notably, the prosecution did face a considerable challenge since the body was so badly decomposed they could not establish how the child died. This left open the possibility of an accidental death. Regardless, many Americans are clearly outraged at Ms. Anthony’s failure to report the child missing for so long and her partying during that time period. While acquitted in the court of law she was clearly found guilty in the court of public opinion. See Penal Code Sections 187 and 192.