In this paper, I will be
analyzing the trial of Casey Anthony, the young mother who was charged with the
murdering of her two year old daughter Caylee Anthony. First I will be
analyzing her initial charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse,
and aggravated manslaughter of a child. Following that, I will do an analysis
of Anthony and how her demeanor in court influenced the decisions made, and
lastly, I will examine how this trial potentially impacted and influenced the
American criminal justice system.
To summarize the happenings in
this case, Casey Anthony’s mother Cindy Anthony reported that the last time
she’d seen Caylee Anthony alive was on June 16, 2008. This was reported on July
15, 2008 and the following day Casey Anthony was arrested for child neglect.
Following her arrest, when questioned on the whereabouts of her daughter Casey
made claim that the last time she’d seen her daughter was when she was with a
babysitter named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, who she claimed had also vanished
with her child. The officers began an investigation into the disappearance and
one of the scent dogs picked up the smell of what was human remains. After this
took place an air sample of the vehicle was also taken that confirmed the
presence of a decomposing body. On December 11, 2008 a grounds keeper near
Casey Anthony’s home found skeletal remains in the woods, which were later
deemed to be the remains of Caylee Anthony. After this finding, prosecutors
decided to pursue the death penalty for Casey; later a forensic scientist
states that the only way for there to be the odor of a decomposing body in her
vehicle was if there was truly a body there. For prosecutors to seek the death
penalty, the defendant must stand a jury trial and unanimously be found guilty,
thus on May 9th, 2011 they began to select a jury1.
After days of going in and out of court the jury decides that Casey Anthony is
not guilty of murdering her daughter but was found guilty of four counts of
providing false information to authorities.
The prosecution had one account
of the events that took place while Casey Anthony’s attorney Jose Baez offered
a completely different account. According to ABC News, after the false story of
the babysitter running off with the child had fallen through, the new story her
attorney provided was that Caylee had drowned in the family pool and to keep
Casey from spending the rest of her life in jail for child neglect her father
agreed that they would hide the body to avoid those repercussions2.
Regardless the testimony, Casey Anthony’s initial charges of first-degree
murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child were not
upheld and like I stated earlier were dropped for four misdemeanor counts of
providing false information to authorities.
Those were the specific details
of the trial and everything leading up to what charges she was actually stuck
with. Now I will address something a little bit deeper than the base level
facts and that is how Casey’s demeanor affected prosecutors and jurors ideas of
Casey. FOX News interviewed Judge Jeannie Pirro in regards to how she perceived
Casey while the jurors were out of the courtroom and while they were in the
Casey Anthony presented two different personas throughout the duration of her
trial, on the one hand she showed herself as desolate, gloomy, and solemn when
the jurors were present and listening to trial facts and when they were absent
from the courtroom she was seen laughing, conversing, and all around being very
interactive with her attorney. During the course of her trial and because of
the different personas she expressed, judge Belvin Perry ordered that Casey
have her mental capacity to stand trial tested by three different psychologists
before they would continue with the trial. But despite this being a worry for
Belvin, judge Jeannie Pirro noted that there should not have even been a
question of capacity because Casey was seen taking notes and asking questions
throughout the trial. Now as the person standing on trial, in order to win over
the favor of the jurors they have to see that you are “human”, and appealing to
the emotional side of people will more likely get that. Casey was stated to be
bare faced and emotionless during times that her daughters photos and remains
were shown and this was something that puzzled prosecutors seen as though she
was being tried for the murder of her daughter. A person who was truly sorry
for a situation such as this would at least be somewhat emotional when
presented with evidence like that. But it was not at all surprising, because
according to testimonies given by witnesses, during the thirty-one day period
that Caylee was “missing” Casey was not at all worried, frantic or in any
dismay at not knowing the whereabouts of her. She was instead quite the
opposite as witnesses say Casey was out parting at clubs in Orlando,
participating in contest, and apparently had gotten a tattoo that said “Bella
Vita” which is Italian for “Beautiful Life”4.
Elements like this would suggest that Casey had already known the where about
of her daughter and she was honoring her life through the tattoo. These are all
things that could be used in determining the guilt of someone and in my
personal opinion; Casey did not seem very innocent.
Finally, I will talk about how I
perceive this trial has influenced the course of the American Criminal Justice
system. First I will dive into the presence of scientific evidence and how it
is used in the courts. According to forensic analyst, Casey Anthony’s vehicle
was thought to have been used to harbor the body of Caylee for some days; this
theory was brought about due to the presence of bugs that are attracted to
decay, also the K9 unit (the dog and the handler) in charge of searching her
vehicle picked on the smell of a rotting corpse in her vehicle. Further on investigators
did chemical test on the vehicle and evidence of chloroform residue were found
in the trunk of Casey’s car. With that evidence prosecutors had determined that
Caylee was knocked out using chloroform, then bound by duct tape, and left in
the trunk of the car for a period of time while she figured out what to do with
the body. I feel this influenced the American correctional system because it
made scientific evidence carry no weight in the courtroom. The defense for the
evidence of chloroform was that it could be found in a multitude of household
cleaning products as well4. With
scientific evidence like that just being discredited by the defense it makes it
hard to truly for a group of jurors to find weight and come to a proper
consensus. The Casey Anthony trial from what I have watched and read was
presented in a way that attacked people’s common sense. Although there were
large amounts of evidence pointing to Casey as the primary suspect, the defense
and at times the judge deemed it all circumstantial. When Caylee’s body was
found, she was found with a Winnie the pooh blanket, a personal t-shirt, she
was inside a laundry bag that was stated to have only been accessible by Casey
and on top of all of that, Casey was consistently caught in multiple lies. When
you present a jury with evidence like this, how does one refute the fact that
the defendant in question was guilty of the presented charges? The Casey
Anthony trial I feel made it publicly evident that it is possible to get away
with murder; there was scientific evidence pointing to murder, there was
physical evidence pointing to murder, and eye witness accounts that would argue
that Casey was guilty. No system in the legal field is perfect and it is all
circumstantial, but there was a preponderance of evidence that was used to
argue Casey’s guilt and the group of jurors still found her innocent of those
crimes. With the presentation of these things, I feel this is how the American
criminal justice system was impacted.
Crimewriter74. “Casey Anthony Trial : Day
1, Part 1 : Opening Arguments.” YouTube. March 22, 2013. Accessed January
22, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oILRGY4obtA.
0009. “Outrage: The Casey Anthony Story; First eBook from the Editors
of PEOPLE Magazine.” Business Wire (English), December. Regional
Business News, EBSCOhost (accessed January 24, 2018).
“Casey Anthony Trial Fast Facts.”
CNN. June 26, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/04/us/casey-anthony-trial-fast-facts/index.html.
“Casey Anthony: 5 Things to Know About
Murder Trial and Acquittal of ‘One of the Most Hated Women in America’.”
PEOPLE.com. Accessed January 23, 2018.
“Casey Anthony: Her Life 9 Years After
Daughter Caylee’s Disappearance.” PEOPLE.com. December 06, 2017. Accessed
January 24, 2018. http://people.com/crime/casey-anthony-nine-years-after-disappearance-daughter-caylee/a-high-profile-trial.
FoxNewsInsider. “Photos: How Is Casey
Anthonys Demeanor Different When the Jurys Not in the Courtroom?” YouTube.
June 27, 2011. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvoosZQnCoo.
Rossman, Sean. “Things to know about the
Casey Anthony case 6 years later.” USA Today. March 07, 2017. Accessed
January 22, 2018.
1 CNN Casey
Anthony Trial fast Facts
2 ABC News
Casey Anthony Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY9grpoUKrQ
Anthony’s Demeanor in the Court Room https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvoosZQnCoo
4 CNN Account
of Casey Anthony http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/07/05/florida.casey.anthony.trial/index.html