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Behind The Casey Anthony Verdict: Why She May Have Been Acquitted

David McAlpine |
July 5, 2011 | 11:06 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

A preview of the hashtag #CaseyAnthony on Twitter after the verdict was read in her case Tuesday.
A preview of the hashtag #CaseyAnthony on Twitter after the verdict was read in her case Tuesday.
Members of the media and trialwatchers alike reacted across the nation Tuesday as Casey Anthony, the former mother charged with child abuse and first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee Anthony, was found not guilty of all counts except providing false information to the police.

The verdict came no doubt as a shock to many, as media pundits across networks were predicting a guilty verdict and jail time, or perhaps even the death penalty, for Anthony. Now, after the verdict, some experts say Casey could face, at most, probation, thanks to the lighter charges and time she has already spent in jail.

After the novelty of a surprise verdict began to wear off, the true question started to get asked: how did what seemed like a slam-dunk case turn into a result that parallels that of OJ Simpson's infamous murder case nearly 15 years ago? Between the decomposing smell in the trunk of Casey's seemingly abandoned car, Casey's documented lies and her given past, many were almost certain today would not be the day she walks of of the courtroom smiling.

One expert says it came down to the forensic evidence, or lack thereof, as no DNA or fingerprints existed that directly linked Casey to the death of Caylee.

"The prosecution put out a lot of dots, but they couldn't connect them," said Lawrence Kobilinsky, chairman of the Department of Sciences at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who served as an advisor to Casey's attorneys.

Legal analysts also said it was Casey's lawyer who was able to prove reasonable doubt thanks to criminal forensic techniques that had never been used in court before.

From USA Today:

The researcher who pioneered the technique said the smell of decomposition filled the trunk of Anthony's car. A defense witness countered that the smell could have come from food that had been found rotting in the trunk.

Karin Moore, a law professor at Florida A&M University, said the state's case was circumstantial.

"Did they prove the manner of death? Did they prove the cause of death?" she said. "The state relied a lot on emotion."

She thought jurors might convict Anthony if they shared the disgust for the defendant that was reflected in online comments by the public.

Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, created reasonable doubt, Moore and other legal analysts said, when he said Caylee drowned accidentially and that her grandfather, Casey's father, helped cover it up and dispose of the body. He also claimed that George Anthony had sexually abused Casey when she was a child. George Anthony denied both accusations.

Moore and other legal analysts said what surprised them was that the jury was able to get beyond the emotion and rely only on the facts of the case.

Described as the "social media trial of the century," Casey Anthony has remained a trending topic on Twitter as Americans continue to weigh in on whether or not the jury was right in acquitting her of some charges.

Casey Anthony is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday morning in the same Orlando courthouse.

Reach Executive Producer David McAlpine by e-mail or follow him on Twitter: @DavidMcAlpine.



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