This is massive, less than a day and a half deliberations after 3 years getting to trial and 8 weeks, 300 pieces of evidence and nearly 100 witnesses Verdict to be read at 2.15 Orlando time Aust time 4.15am NOT GUILTY except for lying to law enforcement.SPEECHLESS AFTER WATCHING EVERY MINUTE LIVE
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Casey Anthony was found not guilty Tuesday of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, in a case that captivated the nation as it played out on national television from the moment the toddler was reported missing three years ago.
Officials said Casey is back in the Orange County jail and remains in protective custody.
“As to the charge, first-degree murder, we the jury find the defendant not guilty,” read the court clerk.
Casey, 25, wept after the clerk read the verdict, which jurors reached after less than 11 hours of deliberation over two days. She was charged with first-degree murder, which could have brought the death penalty if she had been convicted.
Instead, she was convicted of only four counts of lying to investigators looking into the June 2008 disappearance of her daughter Caylee. Her body was found in the woods six months later and a medical examiner was never able to determine how she died.
Casey will be sentenced by Judge Belvin Perry on Thursday and could receive up to one year in jail for each lying count.
After the verdict was read, Casey hugged her attorney Jose Baez and later mouthed the words “thank you” to him. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, meanwhile, shook his head in disbelief.
Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony left the courtroom without speaking to her as the judge thanked the jury.
“While we’re happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case,” Baez said at a news conference after the hearing. “Caylee has passed on far, far too soon and what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee. It’s that simple. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.”
Casey’s attorneys claimed that Caylee drowned accidentally in the family swimming pool, and that her seemingly carefree mother in fact was hiding emotional distress caused by sexual abuse from her father.
Prosecutors contended that Caylee was suffocated with duct tape by a mother who loved to party, tattooed herself with the Italian words for “beautiful life” in the month her daughter was missing and crafted elaborate lies to mislead everyone from investigators to her own parents.
Captivated observers camped outside the courthouse to jockey for coveted seats in the courtroom gallery, which occasionally led to fights among those desperate to watch the drama unfold.
Casey did not take the stand during the trial, which started in mid-May. Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial.
Baez conceded that his client had told elaborate lies and invented imaginary friends and even a fake father for Caylee, but he said that doesn’t mean she killed her daughter. “They throw enough against the wall and see what sticks,” Baez said of prosecutors during closing arugments. “That is what they’re doing … right down to the cause of death.”
He tried to convince jurors that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and that when Casey panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder by putting duct tape on the girl’s mouth and dumping the body in woods about a quarter-mile away.
Her father firmly denied both the cover-up and abuse claims. The prosecution called those claims “absurd,” saying that no one makes an accident look like a murder.
Lead prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick concluded the state’s case by showing the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Casey smiling and partying in a nightclub during the month Caylee was missing. The other was the tattoo she got a day before her family and law enforcement first learned of the child’s disappearance.
“At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?” Burdick asked. “This is your answer.”
Prosecutors hammered on the lies Casey, then 22, told from June 16, 2008, when her daughter was last seen, and a month later when sheriff’s investigators were notified. Those include the single mother telling her parents she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez, (Zanny) a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time in Jacksonville, Fla., with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.
DAY 47: Casey Walks In, Judge Dismisses Jury
IN COURT: Casey, Attorneys, Judge
BAEZ JOKES AROUND: Raw Video | See Images
MOTION: On Zenaida Gonzalez Lawsuit
EVIDENCE ARCHIVE: Casey Anthony Case
CASEY COVERAGE On Twitter | On Facebook
Judge Belvin Perry says he will read the verdict at 2:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
The Florida jury deliberated for more than 10 hours. If convicted of first-degree murder, 25-year-old Casey could get a death sentence.
She could also be acquitted or convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
She is also charged with lying to sheriff’s detectives investigating her daughter’s 2008 disappearance.
- June 4, 2011: Casey Jury Returns From Deliberations Without Verdict
- June 3, 2011: Emotional Day: Tears, Anger, Laughter In Casey Murder Trial
- July 1, 2011: State Rebuttal Over, Closing Arguments To Be Held Sunday
- June 30, 2011: Casey Won’t Testify; Defense Rests In Eventful Trial Day
- June 29, 2011: George Says He “Failed” Caylee In Tearful Testimony
- June 28, 2011: Kronk: Left Bones Untouched, Tried To Do “The Right Thing”
- June 27, 2011: Casey Smiles, Laughs Prior To Mental Competency Ruling
- June 25, 2011: Judge Unexpectedly Adjourns Casey Trial Until Monday
- June 24, 2011: Tearful Day 38: Cindy, Casey, Lee Anthony Cry In Court
- June 23, 2011: Cindy: Searched Web For Chloroform, Car Stain Was Old
- June 22, 2011: Casey’s Defense Team Tries To Tear Apart State’s Case
- June 21, 2011: State: Casey May Have Used Inmate’s Child Drowning Story