Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Case Against Casey Anthony

With no DNA or fingerprints or blood or other forensic evidence tied to Casey Anthony, the case against Anthony for the murder of her two year old daughter was totally dependent on supposition and circumstantial evidence.  Yet the Orange County District Attorney sought a death penalty verdict knowing full well that the necessary factual basis to convince a jury of guilt was lacking.    
In other words, the Casey Anthony jury in Orlando was being asked to find her guilty of premeditated (or not) first degree Murder with death as her punishment based solely on information that was not supported by facts.  

Citizens of Orange County as well as Florida residents might ask if expenditure of taxpayer dollars in these times of fiscal austerity were justified and whether the District Attorney‘s office was responding to more than just a pursuit of justice.  At the sentencing hearing on July 7th, the Orange Co. DA's requested that the Court consider reimbursement to cover the costs of their investigation.  When the total costs for prosecution and defense are rendered, it will be the taxpayers paying the bill.  The Florida State Legislature had earlier allocated, while in the midst of cutting vital social service programs, a $350,000 ‘grant’ to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for the prosecution of Anthony as Republicans continue their War on Women. 

The vengeance with which DA’s Burdick and Ashton presented their case, reminiscent of Grand Inquisitors whose renunciations are based more on an ideology of guilt rather than the Rule of Law, may have sufficiently undermined their own efforts with the jury.  During the trial, the dysfunction of the Anthony family became embarrassingly apparent as Casey’s parents testified first for the prosecution and then for the defense and left the courtroom immediately upon reading of the verdict.

In a nutshell, no cause of death was ever presented.  The skeleton of Anthony’s daughter provided no information to scientists as to how she died, therefore, there was no proof that a murder had been committed.   Other prosecutorial  ‘evidence’ such as Casey borrowing a neighbor’s shovel, a rank smell from the back of her ten year old car which was later traced to a full trash bag,  home computer searches for chlorophyll or chloroform were insubstantial as were allegations that Anthony’s lies were indicative of guilt.  During the entire 33 day trial, the prosecutor’s failed to produce any statements or evidence that Casey was a ‘bad’ or neglectful mother. Yet the prosecutors’ who had a ‘burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ only assertion as to motive was Anthony’s desire to ‘party’. 

For anyone who followed the trial and did not rely on inflammatory media stories, it was clear that the prosecution was failing in its burden. Thankfully, despite overwhelming media, political and legal assassination of an obviously troubled young woman,  none of the DA’s narrow and erroneous presumptive ‘proof’ held up to the scrutiny of Anthony’s jury.  How the legal community will address the bias of media-attorney 'experts' who publicly convicted Anthony prior to closing arguments remains to be seen.   

Casey’s defense attorney Jose Baez, who made a magnificent closing statement, presented the jury with the option of an accidental drowning citing Anthony’s extreme fear of her mother’s reaction and that the prosecutors never bothered to research the possibility.     

Based on my years in the criminal justice system (on the defense side) and the inappropriate choice of a death sentence penalty in this case, the national concern for prosecutorial misconduct by prosecutors who arbitrarily control exculpatory information will continue to grow.

After being cleared of all three major murder charges, Anthony, who has already served three years,  was sentenced to four years for misdemeanor lying to law enforcement and will serve the difference between time-served..

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