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Casey Anthony could go free soon after acquittal

July 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Casey Anthony could be a free woman soon after a jury acquitted her of murder in her 2-year-old daughter's death.

Although the 25-year-old Florida mother was convicted of lying to investigators, it's likely she won't spend any more time in jail.

Anthony will be sentenced for lying to the police Thursday. It's possible she's already served enough time behind bars and could be released. The four counts of lying to sheriff's deputies each carry a maximum sentence of one year.

But that was not the conviction prosecutors or the overwhelming majority of Americans were really hoping for.

After a month and a half of testimony, the jury took less than 11 hours to find Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.

Anthony has been in jail since her October 2008 arrest on first-degree murder charges. She avoided a possible death sentence thanks to her acquittal on the murder count. The case began in July 2008 when Caylee Anthony was reported missing.

After the verdict was announced, Anthony sobbed in court as her parents quickly walked out of the courtroom without speaking to the media.

None of the jurors would speak to the media, but an alternate juror said he believes Caylee died in a horrific accident and wasn't convinced by prosecutors she was killed by her mom.

"The prosecution didn't meet the burden of proof. There was a lot of reasonable doubt there. They didn't show us the evidence that, you know, good enough for a conviction," said alternate juror Russell Huekler.

When asked by Eyewitness News in an exclusive Survey USA poll if they were surprised by the not-guilty verdict, 72 percent of viewers said yes and 28 percent said no.

When asked if they believe Casey Anthony killed her daughter, 75 percent said yes, 10 percent said no and 15 percent said they were not sure.

Wednesday morning, Anthony's parents' attorney spoke exclusively to George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" about why they support the decision despite all the charges Casey's team leveled against them in court.

"As an attorney, we have to look at the facts as they were presented. And unfortunately, it just didn't tie together. I think if you took my clients out of the equation, and if you just looked at the evidence that they had from the scientific point of view, it just didn't tie together for the jury," said Anthony's parent's attorney, Mark Lippman.

Lippman added that Anthony's parents are getting death threats and haven't yet spoken to their daughter. He said they look forward to the day they can ask their daughter what really happened.

Because of the double jeopardy rule, Anthony can never be tried for her daughter's killing again.

"You cannot convict someone until they've had their day in court," said defense attorney Jose Baez.

"We are disappointed with the verdict and surprised. We know the facts. I never criticize the jury. They decide what to believe," said state attorney Lawson Lamar.

Crowds outside the courthouse reacted angrily. Social networking sites were full of negative reactions. Surveys showed an overwhelming majority of surprised and frustrated reactions.

One of Anthony's aunts feels the same way.

"I'm appalled, and now I'm angry and I say shame on this jury that they are either not too bright or just plain lazy," said Pam Plesea, Anthony's aunt.

Prosecutors contended that Anthony - a single mother living with her parents - suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend. Defense attorneys argued that the little girl accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and that Anthony panicked and hid the body because of the traumatic effects of being sexually abused by her father.

Caylee's disappearance went unreported by her own mother for a month. The child's decomposed body was eventually found in the woods near her grandparents' home six months after she was last seen. A medical examiner was never able to establish how she died.

Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial, during which they listened to more than 33 days of testimony and looked at 400 pieces of evidence. Anthony did not take the stand.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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