Commentary by Guy Farmer: Blood money for Casey Anthony
For the Nevada Appeal
As 25-year-old party girl Casey Anthony walks out of an Orlando, Fla., jail today, she’ll already be thinking about her new career – making money off the unexplained death of her precious 2 1/2-year-old daughter Caylee.
But no matter how much she profits from this tragedy, Ms. Anthony will experience a living hell for the rest of her life, and that represents some measure of justice for little Caylee. Because even though a Florida jury acquitted her on murder and manslaughter charges, the “not guilty” verdict doesn’t mean that she’s innocent. It merely says that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which means different things to different people.
So while I respect the jury’s verdict, I disagree with it because I believe Florida prosecutors presented more than enough evidence to convict Casey of aggravated manslaughter. In my opinion, she was involved in Caylee’s gruesome death one way or another. I followed Casey’s six-week murder trial closely on TV and thought the prosecutors presented a convincing circumstantial case. Apparently, however, jurors discounted evidence about the smell of human decomposition in her car, an autopsy that detected the presence of chloroform and the duct tape on her daughter’s skull.
So Ms. Anthony becomes a free woman today. The facts of the case are well known: little Caylee went missing in June 2008 and it took Casey 31 days to report her daughter’s mysterious disappearance. While others searched for the child Casey caroused in local night clubs and got a “bella vita” (good life, in Italian) tattoo. Meanwhile, she lied to police and everyone else, and blamed Caylee’s disappearance on an imaginary Latin nanny.
And when Caylee’s body was discovered five months later in a dismal swamp near the Anthony home, Casey lied some more and, with the help of clever and effective defense attorneys, concocted a story about an accidental drowning as she blamed her parents for her own misdeeds and the five-month cover-up. In other words, she threw her grief-stricken parents under the bus in that Florida courtroom.
Jurors probably acquitted Casey because Caylee’s tiny body – little more than dry bones – was so badly decomposed when it was finally discovered that there was very little solid forensic evidence, including DNA. Prosecutors did the best they could with the evidence they had, but jurors apparently thought it fell short of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required in our courts.
Although the judge gave Casey the maximum sentence for lying to the police, she had very few days left to serve after sentence was imposed. So what will she do next and where will she go? Perhaps she’ll alter her appearance and enter some sort of a witness protection program. But no matter what she does and how much money she makes through book and movie deals, she’ll have to live with her despicable self for the rest of her miserable life, and that’s the harsh sentence she deserves for what she did to her innocent little daughter.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is an occasional courtroom interpreter.