Getting away with murder

Last week’s decision in the Casey Anthony trial has to be the worst since the OJ verdict back in ’96.  Some would say it was even worse, since there weren’t the pressures of celebrity, money and “the race card” defense with its famous charge to the jury to send a message.

What happened?

In looking at the case, supporters of the jury decision argue it had its hands full in a capital case where the caution of reasonable doubt has to apply.  Evidence was emotional and circumstantial at best. While Casey Anthony was proven to be a liar repeatedly, nobody could find the smoking gun.  I disagree.

I find it incredulous you lose your little girl in an alleged pool drowning, lie about her whereabouts and don’t call the police.  You put duct tape over her nose and mouth, thrust her body into a plastic bag and dump her in the woods.  Saying you panicked just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Do you go out partying, taking part in a Hot Body contest just after?

Then there’s that tattoo she got with its Bella Vida (“the beautiful life”).  Jury, you were looking for motive?
According to the medical examiner, though the body was so severely decomposed that it was impossible to detect the specific means of death, it was murder.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, parents who lose a child to an accident immediately contact the police.

For a month, Casey Anthony invented one scenario after another to account for her missing daughter.  Only when ultimately confronted by her mother did she acknowledge Caylee’s death.  It was Mom who called police.

The part that makes me reel with disgust and the closest to something strongly indicative of intent were the chloroform searches on the computer Anthony shared with her parents.  They should have led to a conviction, since the prosecution systematically tore apart defense arguments.

Anthony’s mother took the hit on this, claiming she did the searches, starting with “chlorophyll” in an attempt to discover if her little dog’s eating bamboo was causing him to get sick.  A computer forensics expert, however, testified that the search history, though deleted, had been recovered.  It showed a search for chloroform 84 times.  There was also the occurrence of “neck-breaking” and “household weapons.”  The mother claimed “neck-breaking” was a pop-up.  The forensics expert, however, said it had been deliberately searched.  No search was indicated for “chlorophyll.” Subsequent work records show the mother couldn’t have made the searches, since she was logged into a company computer at the time.

In short, we have perjury.  But it won the day.

A second piece to the puzzle was the finding of high levels of chloroform in the trunk of the Anthony car, indicating decomposition.  The defense countered that it came from a bag of decomposing garbage kept too long in the trunk.  One expert witness testified that the trunk had “the odor of death.”  The judge allowed it as evidence.

Just after the verdict, the chief defense attorney rebuked the media for trying his client in the press.  I find this ironic as he resorted to insinuation to mollify Anthony’s conduct.  Her father and brother had sexually molested her.  He gave no evidence.  He suggested the individual finding Caylee’s body was trying to cash in.  No evidence.  His remarks shouldn’t have been permitted by the judge.  Tellingly, he omitted these claims in his closing statement before the jury.

I’ve never been fond of lawyers, regarding them as a sometimes necessary evil.  Everyone’s entitled to a fair defense, but sometimes lawyers resort to the bottom of the garbage can to get a client off despite a heinous crime and overwhelming evidence.

In this case, legal chicanery prevailed as it did in the OJ debacle.  Though found guilty of four misdemeanors for giving false information to the police, Anthony was acquitted of murder.  Credited with time served while awaiting trial, she’ll be free late next week.

Even if you disagree with my previous arguments, had Casey Anthony been tried at the Federal level, things would have turned out differently.  Providing false information to police is considered obstruction of justice and carries a 5-year maximum on each count.  Moreover, judges can sentence according to the preponderance of evidence, even in a jury acquittal. At the Federal level we’d be talking of up to 20-years.

At the state level, it behooves us to press our legislatures to make non-reporting of a missing child a felony.  Had it been done in Florida, Anthony’s home state, she’d not be out on the streets next week, ready to sign movie and book contracts.

Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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