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In a case that for some reason captivated the nation, the Casey Anthony trial has finally come to a close. Casey Anthony was found not guilty in an Orlando courtroom of killing her daughter on Tuesday afternoon. The jury did convict the young mother of four charges for lying to a police officer, which really was not up for much debate. The reaction around the country was instant. It was readily apparent on social media sites such as Facebook. Most users expressed shock and outrage at the verdict suggesting that the United States has become a nation of Nancy Grace wannabees.
Unlike anything seen since O.J Simpson’s televised murder trial in the 1990’s, the Casey Anthony trial has been in the headlines and the top stories of most cable news stations for weeks. Even more apparent after the verdict, there seems to be no gray area with Anthony. People either defend her as a vulnerable woman who clearly has some sort of mental disorder or they vilify her as an evil baby killing mother. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Following more than 33 days of testimony and 90 witnesses, the jurors only deliberated for one day until returning the verdict. Anthony was found not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child.
During closing arguments over the weekend, lawyers from both sides presented last ditch efforts for their case. Prosecution had little actual evidence to go on and instead painted Anthony as a promiscuous self-centered woman. The main case was surrounded on the 30 days following Caylee’s disappearance when Casey was out partying, getting a tattoo and not behaving how a typical grief stricken woman is “expected” to act. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton argued that Anthony wanted to go out with her friends and to live the carefree life she had before Caylee’s birth. “Something needed to be sacrificed, that something was either the life she wanted or the life thrust upon her. She chose to sacrifice her child,” Ashton said during his 90-minute argument.
Despite the attempt to portray Casey as a bad mother, the prosecution failed to answer many questions. Most notably, the actual cause of Caylee’s death. Prosecutors allege that Caylee was suffocated with duct tape by Casey. The defense states that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool. During closing arguments, the defense highlighted the little amount of actual evidence seen in this case.
Defense attorney Jose Baez said prosecutors’ forensic evidence was based on a “fantasy.” The defense countered that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and that Casey and her father covered up the death. The defense also suggested that Casey was sexually abused by her father. One of the lawyers on the defense team also harshly criticized the media following the verdict for sensationalizing the case and destroying Casey’s life. Cheney Mason, said he hoped the verdict was a lesson to those who had “indulged in media assassination” during the three years between 2-year-old Caylee Anthony’s disappearance and her mother’s acquittal for murder.