The most sensational televised murder trial since the People v Orenthal James Simpson ended yesterday, with, for most observers, the same shocking and distasteful result.
Yesterday, justice was done in Court 23A inside this Orlando Courthouse as Casey Marie Anthony was found not guilty of the murder of her daughter. (A timeline with links to earlier articles can be found here; Paul Bright’s article published immediately after the verdict can be found here).
The word done is of course a double entendre. Those of us who are old enough to remember the OJ Simpson case, and to have watched that trial, thought we’d seen it all. With Simpson, the State produced masses of evidence including forensic evidence that linked the suspect to the crime scene. There was of course the racial angle, but this was nowhere near as pronounced as it was claimed at the time, and if it was once true that while most whites believed Simpson to be guilty, that most blacks did not, it would be difficult today to find anyone of any race who truly believes O.J. Simpson to have been innocent.
With the Simpson trial there were too all sorts of mischief makers and conspiracy mongers spewing out all manner of nonsense; in this trial, there was only one. The State of Florida v Casey Marie Anthony was the trial of a young, slightly attractive but otherwise undistinguished white girl who came from a fairly comfortable if not privileged background. She’d made one mistake in her life, she’d become pregnant out of wedlock, but that mistake had turned to joy for her own parents if not for herself when she became the mother of a beautiful young daughter.
Caylee Marie Anthony was the apple of her grandparents’ eye, both George and Cindy doted on her, and home videos of mother and daughter show or appear to show a firm bond between Casey and Caylee, but if Caylee was a joy to her mother, she was also a burden as Linda Drane Burdick pointed out in her closing address to the jury.
After the seven verdicts came in, a straw poll by WFTV on FaceBook revealed that 93% thought the murder acquittal was unfair, and only 5% thought it was fair, with 2% undecided.
On the street, one woman, who happened to be black, said she’d got away with murder like OJ; a white man who had what appeared to be an English accent made the same allusion; it was, he said, a bigger shock than OJ Simpson.
Alas, the only vote that mattered was of the jury of 5 men and 7 women.
It was announced shortly that the jurors did not wish to speak to the media at this time, any of them. Judge Perry withheld their names until further notice, which could well be forever.
The young man Perry had gaoled for contempt last week was released; prosecutor Jeff Ashton is retiring; and Jose Baez? He is a star.
Almost every time Mr Baez objected, he was over-ruled; almost every time the State objected to something he said, the objection was sustained.
This is the lawyer who expressed total faith in his client when she insisted her daughter had been kidnapped by a non-existent nanny, and who later expressed total faith in her when she claimed she had instead died in a drowning accident.
This is the defense lawyer who took her at face value when she claimed her father, Caylee’s grandfather, covered up the drowning, and the reason she went along with it was because she had grown up in a household where deceit had been drilled into her from an early age by this man, who had sexually abused her, submitting her even to oral rape. This is the same father for whom she was seen expressing her love on a jailhouse videotape.
Mr Baez is the defense lawyer who accused this father and grandfather in one breath of staging a suicide attempt in order to gain sympathy, and in the next, of attempting to kill himself out of guilt for the plight of his daughter, which was entirely his fault.
Mr Baez is the defense lawyer who accused the State’s expert witnesses of being hired guns, while funding the defense case with family photos and videos of the Anthony family that he sold to ABC for $200,000.
Mr Baez is the defense lawyer who accused both George Anthony and Roy Kronk, two men who didn’t know each other, of using duct tape on Caylee’s body.
Mr Baez is the defense lawyer who branded the scientist Dr Arpad Vass corrupt for developing an invention for which he hoped to be paid a small royalty, and then brought in his own hired gun, Dr Bock, who made the ludicrous claim that a child’s skull overgrown with roots could have been in situ unmoved for as little as two weeks, and supplemented this with the even more ludicrous claim that a bone from Caylee’s skeleton could have been buried under four inches of leaves by a dog.
And when all else failed, Mr Baez is the defense lawyer who tried to have his client ruled incompetent.
After doing all this, after at times reducing not only Jeff Ashton but members of the jury to laughter, Mr Baez wins an acquittal for his client. The one question remaining is what can he possibly do for an encore, having already walked on water?
We may never know why the jury voted for total acquittal on all the major charges. It may be they were convinced by one or more of the profferred whacky scenarios that there was a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony did not murder her daughter; it may be that the flurry of unanswered phone calls she made on June 16, 2008, convinced them there had indeed been some sort of terrible accident at the Anthony family home, and that Casey had panicked. Or it may be that they felt truly sorry for George and Cynthia Anthony, and couldn’t bring themselves to sentence their only daughter to death as well as their only granddaughter.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com