Not Guilty Verdict No Surprise in Casey Anthony Case

The American media and public seemed outraged at the jury verdict in the Casey Anthony case. But was the verdict really that much of a surprise? I watched some of the closing arguments, not having followed the case much and thought that the prosecution team had not proven their case, and certainly not a first degree murder potentially punishable by death in Florida. I was not shocked at all by the jury’s verdict and I think it patently unfair for the public to blame the jurors. They should be angry at the prosecutors who made a mess of the case.  Below are 5 reasons I believe the jurors returned a not guilty verdict:

1. The charges were too severe. Without an eye-witness and any DNA linked to Casey, and without a plausible theory for why she would kill her daughter, and if she did, how she did it, though there were theories about what might have happened – the jury could not convict her of murder.  On the other hand, had the case been tried on a lesser charge like manslaughter, the result might have been different. The defense asserted Caylee’s death was an accidental drowning.  The prosecution team could have pursued manslaughter, instead of murder one, holding Casey, as the mother,  responsible for the safety and well-being of her child.
2. The Anthony family did not seem credible after all its dirty laundry was aired. The picture left after all the testimony was that the family had serious issues which raised all kinds of doubts. The mother even testified to having searched on the Internet for the word chloroform as it might have related to the family dogs, who apparently are fond of eating palm leaves.  This seemed to remove the premeditated suspicion from Casey.
3. Personality of the lawyers. I didn’t watch the whole trial, but the defense team seemed more likable and therefore more believable than the state’s team of attorneys. I saw the scene where Jeff Ashton,  the lead prosecutor laughed during a closing defense argument like an immature kid, which Jose Baez, the defense lawyer, pointed out. Both were nearly thrown out of court for contempt. Jurors don’t like that kind of nonsense and are sensitive to displays of arrogance.
4. Not putting Casey Anthony on the stand was a good move. She might have broken down or come across as a sociopath. She might have contradicted her earlier statements or lashed out at her family and prosecutors…or even confessed, if in fact she was guilty of murdering her daughter.
5. Media backlash. I know the jurors were not supposed to be following the media accounts of the case, but they were surely aware of the media’s presence and bias and did not want to be bullied into convicting when in their judgment there was not enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict.

This case is an American tragedy. A little girl is dead and no one knows exactly what happened to her and we may never know. It may have been an accident covered up by the family or a murder, but the prosecution did not present the evidence convincingly enough and the jurors did the only thing they could do – not guilty.

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