Casey Anthony, the Florida mom who made headlines in 2008 for her alleged role in the disappearance of her two year old daughter, Caylee, was back in the news again this week. She gave a series of interviews to the Associated Press, where she discussed Caylee’s disappearance, her resulting notoriety, and the possibility of having another child someday. She said that she would simultaneously be blessed if she ended up having another child, but also wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that someday, another child could potentially say something mean to her kid.
As for her daughter, Caylee, she maintains her innocence, claiming that she has no idea what happened to the little girl back in 2008. Casey was accused of killing her daughter in June 2008. Caylee's body was found several months later in a secluded wooded area just a short distance from Casey's parents' home, but authorities were unable to determine a cause of death.
The prosecution team alleged that Casey dumped Caylee's body in the woods and tried to resume her normal life, going out shopping, clubbing, and acting as if nothing was wrong. Casey's defense team argued that the prosecution's evidence was circumstantial and presented the case that Caylee's death had been accidental; she had drowned in the swimming pool at Casey's parents' house and Casey and her father, George, had attempted to cover up her death.
Casey said recently that there wasn't much going on in her life and that, despite being nicknamed "The Most Hated Woman in America" she actually sleeps pretty well at night. That's kind of hard to believe, when you look back at some of the disturbing information from her trial.
16Casey Takes Caylee Away
At the age of 19, Casey’s parents noticed that she had been gaining weight and suspected that she was pregnant. Casey denied it and claimed that she was still a virgin. However, months into her pregnancy, she finally came clean and admitted that she was pregnant. Caylee Anthony was born on August 9, 2005.
For the next few years, Casey and Caylee lived with Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony. Casey’s fiancé at the time, Jesse Grund, thought that perhaps Caylee might be his baby, but a DNA test would later prove that Grund was not Caylee’s father. The identity of Caylee’s father remains unknown.
In June 2008, Casey got into an argument with her mother. She left the house and took Caylee with her to live with her then-boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro, and some roommates. Cindy called Casey often to check on Caylee, and Casey told her that the little girl was in the care of a babysitter named Zenaida (“Zanny”) Fernandez-Gonzalez.
15Cindy Anthony Reports Caylee Missing
On July 15, 2008, Cindy Anthony placed two phone calls to 911. First, she demanded that police arrest Casey for stealing money and the car. Then she expressed concern that Caylee might be missing.
A few hours after the first call, Cindy called 911 again. She explained that Casey had finally admitted that Caylee had been missing for a month, and had been taken by Zanny, the babysitter. She said that Casey had been looking for Caylee on her own, and hadn’t yet reported her missing. She also added that they had found Casey’s car, and they were afraid that it smelled like a dead body had been inside of it.
The 911 operator requested to speak to Casey, who repeated that Caylee had been missing for a month, and had been taken by the babysitter. She also said that she received a phone call from a number that had gone out of service, and that she had gotten to speak to Caylee briefly over the phone.
According to testimony, on June 27, 2008, Casey abandoned her car at an Orlando business, saying that it had run out of gas. It was later hauled away to a tow yard, where it sat until July 15. When Cindy and George Anthony received a letter from the tow yard, they went to pick it up. George Anthony and an employee from the tow yard both claimed that there was a disgusting odor coming from the trunk of the car.
A cadaver dog was alerted to the possible presence of decomposition in the trunk. A forensic test of samples of air and carpet from the trunk, along with scrapings from the trunk’s interior, found compounds that are associated with human decomposition. Carpet sample tests showed that chloroform, a substance used to anesthetize, was also present in the trunk. Finally, forensic experts testified that a hair, possibly from a decomposing body, had been found in the trunk; however, it could not be proved to be Caylee’s.
13Missing For A Month
Although she was reported missing on July 15, 2008, Caylee had already been missing for 31 days. Casey was arrested by police on July 16 for allegedly giving false information to law enforcement officers, and for possible child neglect and obstruction of a criminal investigation.
Casey told investigators a slew of lies, including that she worked as an event planner at Universal Studios. She even took police to a building on the Universal Studios lot and led them down a hallway before turning to them and finally admitting that she didn’t work there. Detectives said Casey also made up names of co-workers she supposedly talked with about Caylee's disappearance.
Casey also lied to police and told them that she had spoken with Caylee on the day that she was reported missing. She said that Caylee was excited to talk to her and told her about a book she had been reading. But by then, Caylee was already dead.
Months after Caylee had been reported missing, a grand jury saw evidence and heard testimony from several witnesses, including an FBI lab technician and a computer expert from the Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s department. Casey Anthony was indicted by the grand jury on October 14, 2008. She was charged with first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement.
At the time of the indictment, Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez, spoke as though Caylee were still alive. Eager to fight the murder charge, he was quick to ensure that a defense expert be allowed to examine Casey’s car. With no body, he figured it would be hard to prove murder. The murder case would quickly become a legal battle over evidence – the forensic evidence found in the trunk of Casey’s car, as well as the circumstantial evidence of Casey’s repeated lies and strange behavior.
11Caylee Is Found
It is believed that a utility worker first stumbled upon Caylee’s remains in a swampy wooded area less than a half a mile from Cindy and George Anthony’s home in August 2008; he had stopped along his route to look for a shady area to take a break. He called authorities to let them know that he had spotted a trash bag in the woods, but when the area was searched, nothing was found. In December, the utility worker returned to the area, again on a break. He came across the bag and decided to investigate. When he handled the bag, a small skull rolled out.
It took a week for examiners to determine that the remains found in the bag were Caylee’s. It appeared that her body was bound with duct tape, and that there was duct tape over the mouth of the skull. Reports would later show that there was a perfect heart-shaped mark on the duct tape, as though a sticker had been placed on the tape, over the child’s mouth. Also in the bag, along with what did prove to be Caylee’s remains, were a child’s pull-up diaper, children’s clothing, and a Winnie the Pooh Blanket.
10The Nonexistent Nanny
When Caylee was reported missing in July, Casey insisted that she left Caylee with her nanny, Zenaida (“Zanny”) Fernandez-Gonzalez, back in mid-June. When she returned later that day to pick up Caylee, both were gone. However, the nanny never existed.
Casey claims that she met “Zanny the Nanny” through a mutual friend. She told detectives that Zanny had been watching Caylee for about a year and a half and that she would often take Caylee to her apartment. However, police eventually found a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez, who it turns out, never lived in the apartment complex, let alone ever met Casey Anthony.
Anthony’s lawyer, Jose Baez, stated in court that Anthony had lied when she blamed Caylee’s disappearance on the mysterious nanny. He said that Zanny was a figment of Casey’s imagination, along with other imaginary friends that she made up during the days between June and July when Caylee was missing.
9Lying And Partying
Not reporting her child missing and lying about the nanny weren’t Casey’s only bizarre acts. Casey’s then-boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro described their relationship in court and several of their friends and roommates also testified against Casey. Along with the friends’ testimonies, prosecutors exhibited several photos of Casey partying at a nightclub – all during the month that her daughter was missing. In addition to going out and partying, Casey got a tattoo and participated in a hot body contest at a nightclub… four days after the day Caylee died. She was not behaving like someone frantically looking for her child, which is what she would later tell police.
Jose Baez, the defense attorney, attempted to explain away Casey’s behavior before Caylee’s disappearance was reported by saying that she had been concealing her pain the way she had been doing since she was eight years old, when her father had begun sexually abusing her.
Jose Baez’s opening statement attempted to answer the question: “How in the world could a mother wait 30 days before ever reporting her missing?” He explained that the Anthony family was incredibly dysfunctional, and accused family members of abuse and incest, while Casey sobbed. Her defense team alleged that she was sexually abused by her father and her brother, Lee, and that she hid her daughter’s death, just like she had been hiding years of sexual abuse.
The defense would also allege that Caylee’s death was an accidental drowning, and that it was actually George Anthony, her grandfather, who tried to cover up the little girl’s death.
When called to the stand to testify, Casey’s father, George Anthony, denied the allegations of abuse and that he had any part in Caylee’s death. The judge in the case ruled that there was no evidence that Casey had been sexually abused and defense attorneys were not allowed to bring it up again.
During the trial, prosecutors displayed evidence showing that Casey had recently searched the Internet for terms like “neck breaking,” “chloroform,” and “how to make chloroform.” On the last day Caylee was seen alive, someone used Cindy Anthony’s home computer to look up the term “foolproof suffocation.”
Cindy Anthony took the stand and testified for the defense that she had been the one who searched for chloroform, saying that she had initially been searching for “chlorophyll” because she was trying to decide if the family dog was tired because it had a habit of eating bamboo plants in the backyard.
The prosecution rebutted by sharing records that indicated that Cindy Anthony was at work, not at home, at the time the troubling searches were conducted. She said she could have left early that day, but records showed that someone using her credentials were logged in and using a computer at her office on the days when the searches were done on the home computer.
It may have seemed like the prosecution held the upper hand in the courtroom; however, the evidence they presented was mostly circumstantial. Prosecutors alleged Casey Anthony used chloroform on Caylee to cause her to go unconscious, and then duct-taped her mouth and nose to suffocate her. According to the prosecution, she then put Caylee’s body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it in the woods.
The prosecution made their case against Casey by reminding the jury of her many lies to her parents and law enforcement, of the smell in her car’s trunk, and her odd behavior while Caylee was missing. In addition, the police reminded jurors that the police were never able to find the nanny that Casey claimed was responsible for Caylee’s disappearance. Finally, the prosecution pointed out that the items that were found with Caylee’s remains were all items from the Anthony home – including the Winnie the Pooh blanket, which matched her bedding at Cindy and George Anthony’s house.
The defense team took the position that Caylee’s death had been accidental; they claimed that she had drowned in the pool at Cindy and George Anthony’s home. Attorney Jose Baez claimed that George Anthony found Caylee’s body in the pool and helped Casey dispose of the body. The defense stated that George had told Casey that she would spend her life in jail for child neglect. He then helped her bury the body in the backyard to cover it up. Over the next 31 days, Casey pretended that nothing had happened to her daughter. Baez also suggested that George Anthony planted evidence to frame his daughter and deflect suspicion from himself.
To cast further doubt on the prosecution’s case, the defense also attempted to make the utility worker who found Caylee’s remains look guilty. They asserted that he had actually found Caylee’s remains months earlier than he had claimed, but hid them and placed them where they found, in order to somehow cash in on the high-profile case. The utility worker denied those claims.
The jury in a criminal trial such as Casey’s has the responsibility to decide whether the accused is guilty of the crime they are charged with. There may be many jury decisions to be made since, as in Casey’s case, a person may be charged with multiple crimes. The decisions are reported to the court as a verdict. In order to deliver a verdict to the court, the jurors must first vote and agree with the decisions contained in the verdict. The jury voting requirements help determine whether or not a defendant will be found guilty of a crime they have been charged with. The greater the number of jurors needed to agree on the verdict, the greater the chance that the defendant will be found nto guilty. The number of jurors required to agree on the verdict differs between federal and state courts.
After hearing testimony and seeing evidence for over six weeks, the jury for Casey Anthony’s trial deliberated for less than eleven hours before finding her not guilty of first-degree murder.
Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, but was found guilty on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. As the verdict was read, Casey held the hand of her defense attorney, Jose Baez, and cried. The members of the defense team stood by her, holding hands.
Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony, made no attempt to approach Casey, and instead left the courtroom as the judge read the instructions to the jury. The defense had labeled George as a child abuser and then blamed him for the disposal of Caylee’s body after she had supposedly drowned in the Anthony’s pool.
The defense team succeeded in creating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. There were no concrete signs of Casey’s DNA or absolute traces of chloroform or decomposition in the trunk of her car. There were no witnesses to Caylee’s death. No one knows exactly when or how Caylee died; by the time her remains were found, her body was too decomposed to be able to determine the cause of death.
2Sentencing and Time Served
Jurors convicted Anthony on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement. Days after receiving her verdict, Casey was sentenced to serve four years in jail. She received one year in jail on each of the four false information charges, to be served consecutively. She was also fined $1,000 for each count, in addition to court costs. She received Caylee was first reported missing) Casey was released from custody.
She was escorted out of jail by two sheriff's deputies carrying semi-automatic rifles. She was driven away by her attorney, Jose Baez, without addressing the protestors or reporters.
In 2013, Casey filed for bankruptcy, citing just $1000 in assets and over $800,000 in liabilities - $500,000 of which was supposed to go to her defense attorney. Despite the public’s shock at the verdict and following backlash, Casey claimed in bankruptcy court that she had been living off of the kindness and goodwill of strangers; her supporters provided her with financial assistance to cover her rent and utilities.
1A Sad, Strange Case
The Casey Anthony case was a sad, and strange one. Casey quickly became “The Most Hated Woman in America” due to her complicated web of lies, her strange behavior for the 31 days Caylee was missing, and of course, her alleged involvement in the death of her young daughter.
Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony, appeared on the Dr. Phil show a few months after Casey’s acquittal, in the hopes of telling their side of the story. Cindy Anthony stated that she wondered if Casey had developed some sort of hormonal illness or postpartum depression; she said that she had never noticed any strange behavior prior to her pregnancy.
Dr. Phil responded by asking the Anthonys about Casey’s habit of lying, about everything from where she worked to the nonexistent babysitter who had supposedly kidnapped Caylee. In the interview, both parents admitted that they should have seen the signs sooner.
Sources: USA Today, ABC News, People, Rolling Stone, CNN, Time, Today, Fox News
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