Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Following the Law, but was Justice Served for Caylee Anthony?

I followed the Casey Anthony murder trial over the last few weeks, just wanting justice served for the beautiful little 2-yr. old, Caylee Anthony. I do not claim to be any legal expert and was driven by the emotion surrounding such a heinous crime. I accept that my opinion for the outcome to the trial was based on seeking justice for the little girl who could not seek justice on her own.

We all knew that a guilty verdict for Casey Anthony was not going to bring Caylee back . . . but for justice to be served in this case; I thought that was the required outcome. When the verdict of ‘not guilty was first announced, I immediately thought of the OJ Simpson trial and what I perceived was a similar injustice. In reflection, I can see that the trials and ultimate verdicts of not guilty in the Anthony and Simpson cases really are not the same . . . although I wanted justice for Caylee Anthony in the same way that I wanted justice for Simpson’s victim.

Much evidence was presented in the OJ Simpson trial – beyond any reasonable doubt. However, the jury in the Simpson trial was impacted by the media, the public, issues of race and the best defense attorneys that money could buy. A media circus surrounded the Simpson trial and in the end, the media won.

The Casey Anthony trial also played out in the media, but this time the law won. The verdict may not have been wanted I wanted, but the prosecution had an obligation to establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt and they were not successful. Do I think that Casey Anthony committed the murder of her daughter? Yes, but the prosecution did not make the case, simply not enough evidence to convict.

Initially, upon hearing the not guilty verdict, I was outraged at the jury. I figured that with only 10 hours of deliberation it had been a slam-dunk for the prosecution. No, just the opposite, the jury’s seemingly quixotic decision was based on evidence, or rather ‘lack of’. In deliberating the case, the jury followed the law – and in the end, isn’t that what we want from our legal system? Still it is hard to look at the Casey Anthony verdict as good news . . . after all a beautiful little girl is dead and the murderer may have gone free.

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  1. This verdict is a black eye for the jury system. We might want to think about moving to a magisterial system, one that would pass constitutional muster and satisfy the Sixth Amendment requirement of an “impartial jury of the State.”

    Forget that this judge (like O.J.’s Judge Ito) seemed to be in love with the camera in the courtroom. The media, for all their buzzing and stinging, didn’t queer this verdict – the jury did; they failed.

    The prosecution assisted in that failure in two ways. First, they didn’t select a good jury (duh.) Second, and really more importantly, they didn’t do a good job of focusing the jury’s attention on who the true victim was. I believe the jury saw the defendant, this attractive young mother, as the victim. They saw her beaten up day after day by allegations and characterizations from both sides, from virtually every witness. Americans love the underdog, whether it’s the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team or Rocky Balboa, Lizzie Borden or Casey Anthony. The jury’s sympathies were with the murderer.

    Were I the DA, I might have done something like this in order to re-cast the jury’s perspective. During the summation, I would have projected two-year-old Caylee’s image on the monitor. I would have made it clear that my job was to speak for that child, that dead child, who no longer had a voice of her own, who would never be able to tell her story. The little girl who would never go to school, never learn to ride a bike, never go to sleepovers or birthday parties, never have a first kiss, never go to her high school prom, never fall in love, never have children of her own because all of that was taken from her by the person whose job it was to love her best and to keep her safe from harm. The most tragic, most horrifying, most unbelievable aspect of this case is that this little girl’s life was ripped from her by the person who should have treasured her above all things, her mother, the defendant, Casey Anthony.

    Then show pics of the mom partying, the “Bella Vita” tattoo. Then go through mom’s story, point by point, asking if any of it makes sense. Then show Caylee’s picture again and remind the jury that it’s their job to see she gets justice.

    DA says something like that, makes it clear who the real victim is, the defendant doesn’t seem like such a victim any more, the jury’s perspective is properly focused, they sympathize with the child and want to act in her interest.

    I’m very surprised by this verdict. 12 blind imbeciles should have been able to make the right call. I thought they’d find her guilty but not put a needle in her arm. Casey Anthony’s crime is among the most monstrous conceivable. I cannot imagine, no matter how much she drinks, smokes, parties, etc., that she will have a single moment of pure happiness from now until the end of her days. I have to believe she’ll either be tormented by guilt or that, quite possibly, she’s a sociopath – and I don’t believe those feel either guilt or happiness.

    1. I beg your pardon. I had no idea you were such an accomplished criminal defense attorney. Do please excuse the insult.

      And you’re right. Obviously, this was a jury of Solomons.

      “This may have been the smartest jury I’ve seen.”

      How many have you argued before, incidentally? Or “seen,” as you say?

    2. “The prosecution couldn’t prove that a homicide occurred. Sure, the medical examiner wrote that in his report, but he couldn’t substantiate it.”

      I’m sure the little girl duct-taped her own mouth, tied herself up in an laundry bag, and wandered into the swamp to die. A clear case of suicide.

      Smartest jury John Petersen has ever seen…

  2. Just a couple additional comments. 1) the evidentiary standard is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”, not “any” reasonable doubt. Of course, what that actually means is nebulous.

    2) I disagree that there was not enough evidence to convict. There was plenty. This would have been a two-minute episode of “Columbo.” What mother calls the police a month after the child disappears? What mother then lies to the police about a non-existent nanny? Who the heck has chloroform in their car?

    There was plenty of evidence. Plenty. The jury liked Baez better than Ashton and his shrill, blond sidekick. They felt sorry for Casey and the prosecution failed to properly direct their focus.

  3. I believe the prosecution’s failure was largely one of style over substance. Baez sold the sizzle because he didn’t have the steak. The prosecution failed, not because of lack of facts, but because of their presentation. The DA had kobe beef, but served them with plastic knives and forks.

    Also, I never said the state didn’t make their case. I said they failed to win their case. They failed to deliver justice for the victim.

  4. I don’t think the state failed to make the case myself. I think that juries fail to understand the difference between “any” doubt and “reasonable” doubt. It’s why we have juries t hough. If the preponderance of the evidence doesn’t convince them that it’s reasonable to conclude she is guilty, then she goes free. Isn’t the saying better to set 10 guilty people free than convict one innocent one? I’m sure Mark Twain had something to say on the subject (when he wasn’t bashing school boards….)

  5. John, I have to apologize as I just realized that your question was not posed to me.

    Sorry about that, but thanks for giving me another chance to comment. While this result is better than an innocent person being convicted, it’s still a perversion of justice.

  6. I don’t think a preponderance of circumstantial evidence outweighs the lack of direct physical evidence that would tie the mother to the murder – no weapon, no fingerprints, no DNA, no eye witnesses, etc.

    Like most other people, after watching her demeanor in court, seeing the videos of her partying after her daughter “disappeared”, and learning how often she lied – I have a strong feeling that she probably did kill little Caylee.

    However, I am thankful that our legal system requires substantial proof before a murder conviction – people should not blame the jury for this verdict. If anything, the prosecution should have realized they had a flimsy case (based on the lack of evidence) – although the public would have howled if the case had not gone to court.

    This is not the same as the O.J. verdict – there was a considerable amount of direct, physical evidence implicating him in his ex-wife’s murder – the jury just chose to ignore it.

    1. What did they find in her trunk? Direct physical evidence cannot be identified in every case. I understand no capital murder conviction, but do not understand the failure to find evidence of child abuse. 31 days without reporting she was gone. Even though her mother was willing to lie for her on the stand about searching chloroform, just how smart must a juror be to connect dots to a missing child, a dead child, and a trunk that carried a dead child?

  7. From CNN website:

    Casey Anthony was served papers in jail Tuesday night for her deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, an assistant to Gonzalez’s attorney John Morgan said Wednesday.

    When her daughter Caylee was missing, Casey Anthony said the 2-year-old was with a nanny by that name. Eventually confronted by her family, Casey Anthony maintained that Gonzalez had kidnapped Caylee.

    Authorities never found the nanny. They found a woman named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, who denied ever meeting the Anthonys and later filed the defamation lawsuit.

    1. This came about because Casey Anthony claimed there was a person called “Zanny the Nanny.” No other person could verify the existence of such a person. “Zanny” or “Xanny” was probably the Xanax Casey Anthony was feeding her little girl to keep her quiet. When she ran out of Xanax, she whipped up some chloroform (victory for the public school system at least; someone was paying attention in chemistry class.) Caylee dies, conveniently, just as she’s gaining the power of speech.

  8. She definitely lied throughout the investigation – I hope she is convicted on those charges.

    It is a shame that the DA charged her with capital murder rather than a lesser charge (involuntary manslaughter due to overdose of sleeping medicine?). That would have been easier to prove and more likely to lead to conviction.

  9. Dear Just
    Reasonable doubt is the standard. What this tells us is that if you murder someone, make sure no one is watching, and no one finds the body. Forget that a mother did not report her child was missing for 30 days. Forget that they had evidence that the dead child was in the trunk of her car. No child abuse here.

    Raskolnikov presumed it was about greatness. I only hope the guilt of whoever did this kills them.

  10. Pattye,

    This topic is to your Website what mission creep is to some of our nation’s military engagements.

    Let’s leave this story to every other media outlet on the planet and to Nancy Grace (until she can find some other dead / missing kid’s story to exploit and sensationalize). BTW: Thanks BBC World News for keeping this story buried deep down in your coverage of the U.S. Its refreshing to know that there are actually other things going on in America and in the World besides the Cayle Anthony story.

    As for Community Matters: I hope it remains focused on our community. Some other media outlets have abandoned there self-professed mandates and now put on programming unrelated to what one would expect from their names:

    MTV (Music Video Television) has not aired a single music video in about 10 years.

    The History Channel now only seems to offer reality shows about Pawn Shops and Ice Road Truckers, mixed in with stories about Aliens and the 2012 Mayan apocalypse.

    And the Sci-Fi (make that the SyFy) Channel airs Professional Wrestling.

    Please keep Community Matters local. So no stories about Casey Anthony, or Lindsey Lohan, or Charlie Sheen and his Tiger Blood.

    1. I have to laugh when you say “If you don’t like something, ignore it.” You clearly do not take that advice to heart because you just can’t seem to resist commenting on every other person’s posting that you happen to dislike. What is this…your 5th comment about this one story alone? Blog bombs away.

      You also can’t resist calling someone an “Idiot” at least once every 48 hours. I see you called Harlowe McSouthers an Idiot a little earlier concerning the Casey Anthony story.

      You also feel the need to accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being intellectually inferior. I now realize that you must have some deep seated insecurities and fears about your own intelligence which makes you lash out in this manner as a way to compensate. Fear not…you are a bright guy. So please try to be a little more civil in the future.

    2. Yeah Mr. R, aren’t the local parallels obvious….
      Casey Anthony = Kampf
      The Jury = The BOS
      Caylee = Sidewalks

      John, perhaps you should consider taking your own advice:
      “If you don’t like something, ignore it.”

  11. ” If you don’t like something, ignore it”

    Wow? Seems people have tried that with Mr. Petersen and it hasn’t worked. Perhaps you could adjust your medication?

    If you believe this response has anything to offer this blog, perhaps we are all off topic. I’m following your lead JP by adding another totally off-topic response, in the hopes that at some point you may actually care what people think.

    Mrs. Benson — I find your choice of topics interesting and wasn’t offended when Mr. Roboto suggested it was off topic. I enjoyed his irony. But THIS post by John P. is rude and pointless. “Shut your pie hole”…..have we not advanced beyond the elementary playground? Hope you are a not a parent!

  12. I accept that my choices on Community Matters may not always interest all readers. Although I tend to focus many of my posts on local issues, that doesn’t preclude my interest in issues beyond the township boundaries – and may sometimes write about them.

    Your voices do count and your opinions matter, but could we please try and respect each other.

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