Saving Casey Anthony's Life

The defense has rested in the trial of Casey Anthony. While the trial seems to have captured the media's attention, I have not been interested in it or following it. Apparently, the state didn't put on any direct evidence the child was murdered (as opposed to the victim of an accidental drowning.) Casey Anthony didn't testify and the defense didn't call witnesses to support the theory it laid out in opening arguments that her grandfather moved or hid the child's body and that Casey's lies after the fact were the result of sexual abuse by her father and brother. [More...]

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Jose Baez laid out a strategy that began with the bombshell claims that Caylee drowned in the family pool, that her body was found by her grandfather George Anthony who then helped dispose of the body.

Casey Anthony lied for months about her daughter's death because she was "trained to lie" through years of sexual abuse by her father and brother, Baez stated.

What was the point of that opening if they didn't call witnesses to support it? Did they intend to but the judge didn't let them? Or was it a strategy geared towards getting at least one juror to believe it, so that in the event of a guilty verdict, it would cause that juror to reject the death penalty?

And did the defense raise enough reasonable doubt as to whether anyone murdered the child?

However, there is no DNA evidence linking Casey Anthony to Caylee's remains, and the cause of death is "homicide by undetermined means." The defense claims that without knowing the exact way in which Caylee died, there's no proof that Caylee was murdered. They claim her death resulted from an accidental drowning.

While the jury will be instructed that circumstantial evidence carries the same weight as direct evidence and they can make inferences based on the facts presented to them, the defense will argue the state hasn't proved facts, it is asking them to pile inference upon inference to arrive at a guilty verdict.

If the state didn't prove the child was murdered, the verdict should be not guilty. If the jurors think it's more likely than not the child was murdered, but it hasn't been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, they are required to return a not guilty verdict.

But what if they find beyond a reasonable doubt the child was murdered and Casey Anthony is guilty? As the prosecution reminds every jury, proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all doubt. Thus it's possible for the jury to return a guilty verdict even though they aren't 100% certain.

Can the defense argue in the death penalty phase that a less than 100% certainty is a reason to reject the death penalty? Since the State is unwilling to accept the burden of proving Defendant’s guilt beyond all doubt, by definition the standard of proof for guilt is less than 100% certainty. If the jury thinks she's 98% guilty of the crime, can the defense use the 2% difference to argue in the penalty phase that there is "residual doubt" which while enough for guilt, is not enough for the death penalty?

The Supreme Court has said death is different from other lesser punishments. For one thing, there is the extreme finality of a death sentence.

Residual doubt has been used very effectively in other states to save a defendant's life. But Florida courts have held a defendant has no constitutional right to argue residual doubt. So how does the defense get around that? By introducing in opening the suggestion that she was sexually abused which caused her to lie and that her grandfather is a shady character?

I have no idea, as I've said, I haven't followed the trial. But if Casey Anthony is found guilty, I think the death penalty phase will be interesting.

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    haven't followed the trial (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by desmoinesdem on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 08:59:17 PM EST
    know nothing about the case, but this defense scenario doesn't sound too credible to me. Why would a grandfather who finds a drowned child hide the body? Even if you believe that he was an abuser, that makes no sense. Most people who find a child in a swimming pool would call 911, or if the child was clearly dead, would make funeral arrangements.

    Been following the trial... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by dreamdoc on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 11:18:16 PM EST
    ... and you have nailed it!

    There hasn't been a lot of proof of murder, though there has been a bit...

    There certainly has been little to nothing to support Baez' contention of accident and drowning...

    There has been a lot of forensic evidence to suggest intention...

    And of course, there has been drama...

    Today a spectator was sentenced to 6 days jail for flipping the bird on camera while the prosecutor was at the podium.

    Judge Perry is not messing around and he has been meticulous in his adherence to case law; he does not want a retrial on this one!

    As for the players... I've commented elsewhere about some of the psyche issues in the case.


    It has been gripping, and it may make legal history, in terms of the forensics... but I'm not sure we come away with many answers...


    thanks, I like your "magical thinking" (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 12:29:51 AM EST
    post you wrote today. And your response to a commenter,

    [T]he job of a good defense attorney is to make sure the rights of the accused are respected. The defense attorney operates on the assumption of innocence until a judge or jury finds otherwise. Often they don't even ask the question, "didja' do it?" They don't want to know..., they only want to defend the rights of the accused...

    I'd only add that it's not so much we don't want to know as it is that whether they did it is not very relevant (except to rule out self-defense, alibi or insanity as a possible defense.) The issue is can the state prove it. Eventually, we do need to know their side of what happened.

    What a fascinating world you deal with -- the unconscious -- I'm going to start reading you, glad you stopped by!


    Thanks for the props... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by dreamdoc on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 04:32:39 PM EST
    .. on my blog entries.The defense has finally rested, and it's not clear where the trial resolution will go. There still is a big question about the legitimacy of the death penalty in Florida. Other legal scholars can help us understand it, but apparently there was a ruling against the death penalty overall just a week or so ago. As a result, the defense has filed a motion for a new jury in light of this ruling. (Since this jury was selected when death penalty was an option, attorney Finnell wants a new jury selected with death penalty off the table.)

    Anyway you mix it, this is a sad family with issues. We all can relate, because we all have issues. In this family though the issues spiraled out of control, and a baby was lost.It is not unusual in our society for a baby to be the victim in the family. So often we just don't want to acknowledge it.


    On June 23, the FL Supreme Ct (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 06:36:21 PM EST
    decided the Andrew Lukehart case  (decision here)and said

    Moreover, to the extent that Lukehart is really raising a residual or lingering doubt claim, Florida does not recognize residual doubt, much less residual doubt as to the aggravators. See Williamson v. State, 961 So. 2d 229, 237 (Fla. 2007). Counsel cannot be deemed ineffective for failing to pursue a meritless claim.

    What was the ruling that favored the defense last week?


    I believe (none / 0) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:29:27 PM EST
    she is referring to.

    This One


    Jeralyn, would value your opinion (none / 0) (#9)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:12:37 AM EST
    on the ethics/morality of pointing the finger at several other people, like the defendant's father and brother and the dimwit who discovered the body, as morally corrupt and horrible people, as a defense strategy to muddy the waters?

    Personally, I don't think she intentionally murdered this child and I think it's been way, way, way overprosecuted and not even close to proven.  But I find the defenses tactics of putting these extraneous figures through hell and irreparable damage to reputations beyond despicable.  It's one thing to raise questions and doubt, another thing altogether to do what the defense has done in this case.

    The defendant is clearly very seriously mentally ill, but what's the defense attorney's obligation here?  If she claims wildly improbable things to her attorneys, are they obligated to put them at the center of their defense case in court?

    And what's the recourse for people who are so grotesquely slimed under these circumstances?  Can you sue somebody for making false claims about you in the course of a criminal trial?


    I don't know about Florida but in (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:34:46 AM EST
    many jurisdictions you aren't allowed to raise the alternate suspect defense unless you can first establish a foundation for it. It would be the subject of a motion in limine before the jury ever got to hear it.

    This is a lot more than (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:03:49 AM EST
    a routine case of child murder.

    As Jeralyn points out, it's by no means clear the child was murdered at all.  But the twists and turns in this case over the last several years are unlike anything I've ever seen before.

    A big part of the fascination is with Casey's pathology-- carrying her dead child's decomposing body around in the trunk of her car, the incredibly elaborate lies over a period of months, including invention of a whole host of characters who don't exist, taking the cops to see her "office" at a place she wasn't working at, etc.

    And then capped off by accusing her father and brother, her biggest supporters in all this, of sexually molesting her in order to provide an excuse for her bizarre behavior.

    I'm wildly allergic to "missing white woman" syndrome, but there are very good reasons why there's been so much attention to this case.

    We need our (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 08:33:27 PM EST
    resident Casey Anthony commenter to come here and give tell us what she thinks.

    i havent watchee (none / 0) (#2)
    by observed on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 08:45:59 PM EST
    Closely, but it seems like a not guilty verdict is possible.

    I think it should be (none / 0) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:22:04 AM EST
    The state hasn't come close to proving murder, never mind premeditated murder. I don't know enough about the law to know if the jury can find her guilty of involuntary manslaughter, for instance, when she's been charged with murder one.

    She has also (none / 0) (#13)
    by Amiss on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 04:09:07 AM EST
    been charged with other "endangerment" crimes, and manslaughter, sorry I cant remember them all, but the prosecuter's office was trying to cover all their bases with the charges, I believe. So, first degree murder was not the only charge, the jury has many to pick and choose from.

    I have followed this somewhat since it began since I have lived in Fla. or on the border most of my life.

    I do believe she died as a result of her mother wanting to party and not care for her child, but I dont believe it was intentional that the child died from an overdose of homemade chloroform, which apparently the mother was in the habit of doing so she could lead the life she wanted. In many ways, this mother reminds me of the Susan Smith that killed her sons in Union SC several years back. Her boyfriend at the time did not want children and neither did Casey's. Casey appears to be a sociopath, does that exclude her from being capable of knowing right from wrong?  She had so many imaginary friends it was and is just nuts. The only times she cried in court was when they were discussing her, no one else, including her deceased daughter.

    I do know that in Fla. one of the reasons for a death penalty to be imposed is for the killing of a child below the age of 10, unless I am mistaken.

    The guy arrested today for the middle finger salute was pointing it at the prosecutor. Wonder what would have happened to him had he been saluting Jose Baez?

    I have no law degree and my opinions are mainly from the TeeVee, newspapers and word of mouth.


    there are hundreds of (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 12:34:45 AM EST
    victim advocacy groups addressing the problem and they make their presence known by their constant passage of laws named after child abuse victims -- megan's law, jessica's law, connor's law, the adam walsh act, and on and on. You just won't read about them here.

    My lack of interest is in large part a protest against the constant media attention paid to white female victims (and their mothers)while so little is paid to the other victims.

    if you'll recall, (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 02:50:06 AM EST
    in the scott peterson case, the ME couldn't even determine a cause of death, much less whether or not it was homocide or accidental. this didn't stop a jury from convicting him. as well, even the circumstancial evidence presented in that case was, being kind, weak. what got mr. peterson convicted had nothing directly to do with the actual "crime", it was that he was having an affair. this was presented as his motive, with no actual evidence to support it.

    basically, the jury just didn't like mr. peterson.

    You nailed it. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 07:43:20 AM EST
    I've long believed that the only thing the prosecution proved in the Scott Peterson case was that he was a callous a-hole. Which is a long way from murder. Yet the jury went along with it because just didn't like him. Unfortunately too many juries are full of people who couldn't come up with a good enough reason to get out of it.

    That's not what I remember (none / 0) (#20)
    by magster on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 02:55:58 PM EST
    His alibi didn't hold up, he tried to run and he lied his a## off about various things after she went missing.

    Over publicised murder -- yes. Wrong verdict -- no.


    his alibi was that he was fishing, (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Sun Jul 03, 2011 at 06:16:22 PM EST
    and it was supported by evidence. no one (except the fishermen among us) could believe he'd go fishing on christmas eve. the prosecution could provide no forensic or witness evidence to support their allegations, none. if you'll recall, they even tested concrete found at the home, it didn't match that used as weight on the victim's body.

    last i checked, lying isn't, by definition, enough to get you convicted of a capital crime, depending on what you're lying about. much of it stemmed from his dalliances with other woman, which he (understandably) didn't want to tell about.

    no, he was found guilty on the evidence of him being a class A pr*ck, nothing more.


    Sorry I'm so late (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jackson Hunter on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:05:10 AM EST
    to this thread. I believe the Judge ruled that Baez could not question the Father, Mother or Brother about the molestation, that Casey would have to testify to that under direct examination. So since she didn't testify, there was no evidence introduced.

    Geraldo Rivera seems to think there is a very serious Miranda violation as during what definitely sounded like an interrogation to me Casey was never Mirandized. Of course, Miranda has become as 'quaint' as the Geneva Conventions so that probably won't matter.

    I guess I should be used to it, but the unhinged and completely one-sided Media lynching of this young lady is completely out of control. The vile Nancy Grace (and calling her vile is the nicest epithet I can think to call her) and others have totally corrupted the system, but I suppose this isn't the first time. I think Casey Anthony had something to do with this death, but I'm kind of a stickler for the whole 'fair trial' thingie that's laid out in that pesky document called the Constitution. I know, I know, I fell for the propaganda in Civics class.


    To me, it has just (none / 0) (#19)
    by Amiss on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:38:42 PM EST
    replaced the "soaps" that I watched for many years that have recently been taken off the air. The prosecution has most certainly been less than stellar, but the defense atty's case is just like a clown show to me with all of the twists and turns. She needed a much more experienced lawyer, heck I remember Ted Bundy had F. Lee Bailey on the state's tab..........just pondering, and I know that is dangerous LOL.

    Speaking of which, this new "lady" that George was supposedly having an affair with..... was he or wasnt he? Most of my life since I can remember, I have not put much stock into a story that has been "sold" to a publication. That being said, she seemed to come off fairly credible while George not so much. That being said, 2 more things, 1. If he did, what does that have to do with the death of his grandchild? And would not anything he told her be hearsay? 2. The Enquirer DID uncover the John Edwards mess.


    White murdered women are sooo lucky. (none / 0) (#16)
    by honora on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:06:51 AM EST
    How you all can so callously dismiss the pain and suffering that the white women murder victims go through and the grief of their families simply because they are white is mind boggling.  Sure tell yourselves that you are being righteous and standing up for minority victims, but I don't buy it.  Too many American women are collateral damage in a society that treats women as unimportant sexual gratification pawns.  Many of these 'cute', 'young' white women are victimized  because they are cute, white, and young.  So go ahead and blame them for the sick society that they were born into.

    no one is blaming the victim (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 12:47:27 PM EST
    the criticism is of the media which chooses to report every detail of their cases day after day while ignoring the other cases.

    Possible verdicts (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:52:53 AM EST
    Here is a handy chart detailing the charges and possible verdicts. We were looking at it int he office yesterday and making our predictions. Most people here in O-town have been following it fairly closely, though I have not. the office consensus is that the prosecutors have come no where near proving first degree murder. No one expects her to be found guilty of that, or even the second degree murder charge. We all think the manslaughter conviction in the top row is most likely.