I’m back from a week of travel, and if you weren’t following me on Twitter while I was traveling, here’s catching up to the bottom line on the Casey Anthony trial:
The day I left town, a mental health expert testified that Casey’s behavior in the month after Caylee’s “disappearance” was consistent with grief. While it’s true that people grieve in different ways, it didn’t take a Ph.D. to see that nothing about Casey’s behavior during that time was indicative of a grieving mother. Plus, the expert hadn’t even examined Casey and so could only speak in generalities.
Then we heard from River Cruz, George Anthony’s alleged mistress. She sounded like a borderline nut to me, but even if George did sleep with her, she didn’t prove anything. She didn’t even allege that George said he knew Caylee’s death was an accident. According to her, George just said he thought it was an accident.
After what I suspect was an initial decision to testify that prompted the mental evaluations of Casey, she wised up and decided not to testify.
Then we got the rebuttal evidence that proved to me, beyond any doubt, that Cindy Anthony lied about doing incriminating searches on the Anthony family computer. That’s perjury, but given the woman’s Greek-tragic predicament, I don’t expect her to be punished any more than she already has been.
Then we heard closing arguments. Casey’s attorney stumbled and bumbled, but he made the point that there was reasonable doubt, and there was…as to premeditation. The prosecution’s closing was not the masterpiece that some pundits said it was. It was an over-reaching appeal to emotion, which I’ll address more in just a minute, but it at least made the point that the defense never even alleged that Casey was delusional when she lied to the cops about what happened to Caylee.
Then came “bombshell #3,” the not-guilty verdicts. I predicted a manslaughter verdict in approximately three days, but when the jury came back in one day, I knew immediately that we were going to get acquittals. That was simply too fast for them to have waded through the evidence sufficiently to arrive at a conviction of anything other than the obvious lying to law enforcement.
Imperfect as it is, that’s our system, it’s still the best system there is, and it’s the one you’d want if you were ever accused of a crime. Keep in mind that the jury didn’t know everything we all knew about the case. And if you’re upset, I understand. I know what it’s like to be an expert in a criminal case, explain to the jury the science that proves the defendant guilty, and then watch the jury go right ahead and acquit the defendant. Believe me, you do a lot of second-guessing.
The problem in this case, though, was that the prosecution over-tried the case, arguing almost exclusively for a pre-meditated scenario about which there actually was reasonable doubt when they should’ve argued at least equally for an alternative, non-pre-meditated, manslaughter scenario about which there really was not reasonable doubt (i.e. they went for broke instead of saying to the jury, “Ok, we think this pre-meditated crime happened, but at the very least, this other, non-pre-meditated crime happened,” which I think could’ve gotten them a conviction, of manslaughter).
Just like parents in the divorce cases in which I’m an expert sometimes lose sight of the big picture (the kids) and argue for sole custody when that’s not in the best interests of the kids, prosecutors sometimes lose sight of the big picture (justice) and argue for more serious charges than they can really prove when that’s not really in the best interests of the public.
Think of this: It’s possible that Caylee actually drowned in the family pool while Casey was in the house doing something recklessly neglectful like getting high with a guy, and that when the guy left, Casey came outside, found Caylee floating in the pool dead, didn’t want to call 911 because she worried selfishly about what would happen to her (Casey) if she were found high with a dead child, taped up Caylee’s mouth and nose after her death to keep fluids from leaking out, put the body in the trunk of her car until she could figure out what to do, disposed of the body in the woods when it started to stink, and went on about her business thereafter because she liked being “free” of Caylee even if she didn’t do anything purposely to get “free.”
Based on the evidence presented at trial, I think that’s the least-heinous possible scenario. I don’t think it’s reasonably possible that Casey could’ve done something benignly neglectful, like just talking on the phone for a few minutes inside, while Caylee drowned — her behavior after the fact suggests to me, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she was doing something heinous that either intentionally or recklessly resulted in Caylee’s death. If the picture that I painted just now is in fact what happened, it’d warrant a manslaughter conviction, but the prosecution didn’t really ever paint that picture for the jury.
So now, even with the judge keeping her in jail as long as practically possible, Casey’s on her way back out onto the streets with the rest of us in a matter of days. It says something psychologically sick about our culture that we’re going to make her a celebrity now, and I wish I could plausibly hope that we won’t. Assuming we will, though, she should be required to use the first monetary proceeds of her celebrity to make full restitution of all of the public funds expended based on her lies in the search for Caylee.
If you’re upset, rest assured that Casey will be in trouble again, just like O.J. Simpson, and in the meantime, you can support “Caylee’s Law,” a proposed new law that would make it a felony not to report a child missing.