Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Casey Anthony: Bereaved mother or child killer?

Glued to the live stream on my laptop of Casey Anthony's sentencing, I was horrified by the outcome. The jury found her not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. Guilty of four counts of giving false information given to a law enforcment officer. For this she receieved a year in jail and a $1000 fine for each count, given 3 years credit for the time she had already served and additional credit for good behaviour. She was released from jail on 17th July 2011. The world watched as this woman, initially accused of murdering her 2 year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, walk scot free, a smug smile brightning her usually cold, emotionless face.

Casey Anthony lived in Orlando, Florida, with her parents Cindy and George and her daughter Caylee. On 16th June 2008, Casey took Caylee from her parent's home for 31 days. In this time, Casey's mother Cindy asked numerous times could she see Caylee but was told that Casey was busy with a work assignment, that Caylee was sleeping or that she was with a nanny, Zenaida "Zanny" Fernandez-Gonzalez. On 15th July 2008, Casey's parents found that her car had been towed and went to go and retrieve it. Both George and the assistant at the tow yard describe smelling a terrible odour coming from the boot of the car, later saying that it smelt as if there had been a decomposing body in it, but when it was opened, it contained only a bag of rubbish. It was on this date that Cindy phoned the police and reported Caylee missing. In the phonecall she explained that she had been missing for 31 days. Casey told her that the aforementioned nanny had kidnapped Caylee and she had not seen her in a month. However, this nanny was to be only one of the number of discrepancies in Anthony's story.

After Caylee's disappearence was reported, Casey concoted a number of lies to take any impending blame off herself. The nanny story was just one of many. Casey said that the nanny, who she referred to as Zanny, had kidnapped Caylee. Zanny had never been seen by any of Casey's family or friends and it played out that although she did exist, she had never even met Casey or Caylee. So where had Caylee been for a whole month if she hadn't been with her supposed nanny? Another lie Casey told was to law enforcement officers, where she claimed she was employed at Universal Studios. She was taken there by police and asked to show them her office. After walking around for a while, she was then forced to admit she no longer worked there and hadn't done for around 2 years. She was arrested on 16th July 2008 for child neglect, providing false information and obstructing a criminal investigation. Her appeal for bail was rejected by a judge who claimed "she showed woeful disregard for the welfare of her child." However, after just one month, she was bailed out in the hopes that she would co-operate with the investigation looking for Caylee. She was arrested again on 14th October, indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter and four counts of providing false information. If found guilty of first-degree murder, the prosecution later decided that they would push for the death penalty, which is still legal in the State of Florida.

On 11th December 2008, a man called Roy Kronk reported a suspicious sighting in some woods. The police came to investigate it and found a black binbag with yellow ties in the trees. Inside was a laundry bag which contained Caylee's skeletal remains, duct tape covering her mouth area and stuck to the hair that remained. From then on, the case became extremely complicated, a mish-mash of stories, evidence, false statements, all encased in an obvious shell of guilt.

A lot of evidence was presented in regards to the unexplained disappearance and death of Caylee. The boot of Casey's car, as already explained, had had the smell of " a decomposed body" in it. A new forensic science, called "hair banding" was used, in which hair develops a dark band at the root after death. Such a hair was found in the boot of Casey Anthony's car and air samples came back positive for components consistent with that of a "decompositional event" although whether this could be of a human decomposition or not was not proven, nor ruled out. It also emerged that traces of chloroform were found. A search for how to make chloroform was found on a computer used by the Anthony's, along with searches for 'neck breaking' and 'death.' Cindy Anthony testified in court that it was her that did the searches on chloroform, not her daughter. When asked how she did so after records show she would have been at work at the times these internet searches were carried out, she responded that she had left work early on the days in question.

It all starts to seem a litte coincidental at this point. But that's not the end. The same types of laundry bags, binbags and duct tape all found at the scene where Caylee's body was found, were present in Casey Anthony's home. A Winnie the Pooh blanket found at the scene was similar to one that had gone missing from the home. And investigators retrieved heart shaped stickers, as a record showed that on the duct tape covering Caylee's mouth had had a heart shaped outline on although it was not visible after the tape had been dusted for fingerprints. Casey had also written a diary entry that was examined, It had no year on it, only the date, 21st June, in which Casey writes how she has "no regrets" and that she was the happiest she had ever been. She and her defence argued that the diary was from 2003, before Caylee was born, however further investigation showed that that particular diary had infact not been available for purchase until 2004.

Casey Anthony's trial began on 24th May 2011, led by Judge Belvin Perry. The defence was led by Jose Baez. In his statement, he suggested that Caylee Marie had climbed into the pool at her grandparent's house and drowned. In a panic, George Anthony had taken her body and hidden it in fear that his daughter would be charged with neglect. He and his daughter kept this a secret, explaining why Casey had continued to go out clubbing in the 31 day period that Caylee had supposedly been missing. Baez painted Casey as a poor, tortured soul, who was able to deny the fact her young daughter was dead and carry on as if nothing had happened because she was used to hiding her emotions, given that she was sexually abused as a child by her father and possibly by her brother, Lee. Both claim that this is a lie and neither of them had ever made any sexual advances towards Casey. This version of events begs the question, if Caylee had drowned in the pool, then why was she found with duct tape covering her mouth? Why cover a child's mouth as if to suffocate them or stop them from screaming if they were already dead? Why would George try to cover up what could easily have been construed as a tragic accident, as if it were a murder? Surely if she had drowned, his daughter would have been better off with a neglect charge instead of a possible murder charge? And why would he openly describe the smell in Casey's car boot as that of a decomposing body, when surely, if he had disposed of Caylee, he would not have wanted to draw that kind of attention?

The prosecution would, of course, agree with the unanswered questions above. They claimed that Casey duct taped her daughter's mouth to suffocate her after she became unconscious due to the use of chloroform. Her body was then left in the boot of Casey's car and was later disposed of in the woods. All the while, Casey was out partying. They painted her in quite a different light to the defence, saying that she murdered her daughter to get rid of the responsibilities of parenthood so she was free to enjoy her social life. Two cadavar dogs found stong traces of cadavar scent in the boot of the car and the Anthony's backyard also, but this was rendered as irrelevant by the defence team. Casey herself, did not take the stand to testify in her defence throughout the trial.

On 5th July 2011, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, child abuse and manslaughter. The jury found her guilty only on four counts of providing false information. Watching the action unfold live, the Casey I had previously seen had melted away. When the sentencing was read out, she began to smile. A smile of relief that she was not going to be convicted of a murder she didn't commit perhaps. Or a smile of relief that she had gotten away with it. Despite the recollections and descriptions of her little girl's death, her face remained stony at best, rarely a tear shed.

This case attracted a lot of public and media attention and has been duped as "OJ Simpson 2" due to the overwhelming evidence against her yet still being found not guilty. People all over the world openly expressed their disgust at the verdict, which most thought would be guilty and that Casey would be facing the death penalty. But the jury on the trial were told specifically not to take into account anything they heard or saw about the case beyond the courtroom and they were told not to let their emotions affect their decision. With no absolute concrete evidence, without reasonable doubt, that Casey murdered Caylee, the jury was forced to hand her a not guilty verdict, to which many of the jurors were "sickened" by. despite it being the correct decision in regards to the law.

So, to the important part. What do I believe? I believe, along with at at least 90% of everyone else who has followed this case, that Casey Anthony is as guilty as sin. She was able to go out partying and drinking, knowing her child was dead. If Caylee had died accidentally, it would have been even harder to cope with than knowing she had been murdered at Casey's hands, which probably made it easier for her to take her mind off it. Although Casey would have probably loved her child, she saw her as nothing more than a burden, stopping her from living her life the way she wanted to, dragged down by being a parent, bundled with reponsibilties. She took Caylee away, refusing to let her grandmother to see her by concocting a number of lies to cover her tracks. In the 31 days that Caylee was "missing," Casey did as the prosecution claimed. Knocked Caylee out using chloroform, put duct tape over her mouth so she would suffocate and possibly to prevent her from screaming should she come round prematurely, then when Caylee was dead she was kept in the boot of Casey's car until she had worked out a plan of how to dispose of her. Then when she did so, she was able to carry on her party lifestyle, even getting the tattoo "Bella Vita" meaning "beautiful life" while her daughter was dead and buried in a woods, a laundry bag for a coffin, up until her mother reported Caylee missing and Casey was arrested in October. Her lies about sexual abuse at the hands of her father, although deemed untrue, were spread in a bid to make people symapthise with her. And in court, she showed little emotion, considering, had this death been accidental, she would surely breakdown remembering the whole traumatic experience that any normal parent would show being taken back to the day her daughter was found dead in a binbag.

As far as I am aware, because of double jeapordy, it means that Casey Anthony can never be tried again on the same offence now she has been accquitted and convicted (in the loosest sense of the word.) Therefore, she has walked away completely scot-free. Technically, she could go and tell people she did it and it would make no ounce of difference. So now she walks, a free woman. Or as free as you can possibly be when you are hated by such a huge number of people. Infact, she was probably safer in jail, now she is out, there will be people out there, other mother's, waiting to rip her apart. Caylee Marie Anthony did not recieve the justice she deserved. A young, beautiful little girl who didn't understand that her mother felt that her social life was more important than her daughter and would go to such terrible lengths to have her way. A little girl who no doubt loved her mother unconditionally and trusted her with her life, a life that that same mother snatched away from her for her own selfish gain. The only consolation is that Casey Anthony will have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder, because there will no doubt always be someone watching, waiting for her. Because, although the case may be over, one day karma will catch up with Casey Anthony, and when it does, that is when the true justice will be done.

RIP Caylee Marie Anthony (2005-2008) May your justice be served some day

1 comment:

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you have written here, and it is very well written too! what i find amazing about this case is that the jury managed to keep 100% of their emotion out of the verdict! they only took 11 hours to return the not-guilty verdict, a time which, everyone assumed would mean guilty!
    i think this says more about the fact that the US county prosecutors were allowed to bring such a flawed case to court. they had no physical proof that linked the mother to the killing of the daughter and they had over 3 years to prepare and bring to trial!

    It is so sad to lose a young life in this way. i think much more could have been done to prove her guilt rather than rely on the emotions of the jury.