The Casey Anthony Trial: An Overview Of The Case On The 2nd Day Of Jury Deliberations [UPDATED]

UPDATE [2:22 p.m.]: Casey Anthony has been found NOT GUILTY of murder in the 1st degree, the highest charge she faced. You can read the full verdict here. Thoughts?

UPDATE [1:56 p.m.]: Well, that didn’t take long. The jury has apparently reached a verdict which will be delivered at around 2:15 p.m. EST. I’ll add an additional update to this post then.

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Jurors in the high-profile capital murder trial of Casey Anthony, who is accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008, have entered their second day of deliberations today. With the closing arguments now delivered, and a judgment expected possibly sometime this week, here is an overview of the case as it stands now.Caylee Anthony’s Disappearance

In July 2008, Cindy Anthony called the Orlando, FL, police to report that her two-year-old granddaughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, was missing. In mid-June 2008, Caylee’s mother Casey had reportedly taken Caylee from the family’s home and did not return for 31 days. During the course of the month, Cindy would repeatedly ask Casey about her granddaughter and ask to see her, but Casey wouldn’t oblige, saying she was too busy or that Caylee was with her nanny. In mid-July, Cindy and her husband George found out that Casey’s car had been towed and when George went to pick up the car, he noted that there was a strong smell coming from the trunk that he identified to be that of a decomposing body, though there was only a bag of trash inside. Cindy called 911, telling the operator that Caylee had been missing for 31 days and that her daughter’s car “smells like there’s been a dead body” in it.

Casey Anthony was arrested for the first time in July 2008 for giving false statements, child neglect, and obstruction of a criminal investigation. After a month in jail, a bail bondsman posted bond for Casey — in hopes that she would help police find her daughter — and she was released. She was arrested again at the end of August on charges of forgery, fraudulent use of personal information, and petty theft for forging checks and using her friends credit cards without permission. Anthony was offered a limited immunity deal by prosecutors, but she didn’t take it. Casey was released from jail again in early September, but was fitted with an electronic tracking device. She was arrested for the third time on new theft charges and was released shortly thereafter, following an anonymous posted bond, though it was later revealed that her parents were involved.

On October 14, 2008, Casey Anthony was arrested for the fourth and final time, after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of felony murder — police now believing that Caylee would not be found alive — among other charges. Casey entered a plea of not-guilty.

On December 12, Caylee Anthony’s remains were found in a forested area near the Anthony residence. Duct tape covered the face of the skull and the death was ruled a homicide, the cause of death undetermined. In April 2009, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty in this case.

Casey Anthony’s Lies & Bizarre Behavior

In addition to charges of petty theft and fraud, Casey Anthony told the following lies to police when they were investigating the disappearance of her daughter:

  • Casey initially told the police that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, a woman she identified as Zenaida “Zanny” Fernandez-Gonzalez, who had never been seen by Casey’s family or friends. Investigators later discovered that Caylee did not have a nanny, and though a woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez did exist, she had no connection to the Anthony family.
  • Casey told police she worked for Universal Studios, a lie she had also told her parents. It turned out that she had been fired from the amusement park years before.

Additionally, during the time Caylee was presumed missing — later revealed to be after her death — Casey was seen partying and shopping with friends. This behavior is incredibly strange no matter what you believe happened to Caylee — murder (as the prosecution asserted) or accidental drowning (as the defense claimed).

The Evidence

Without a witness to Caylee’s death, the prosecution has had to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove their case. Among the major evidence presented:

  • Caylee Anthony’s remains were found with a Winnie the Pooh blanket that matched her bedding at her grandparents home, a set of laundry bags that matched a twin at the Anthony home, and duct tape of a relatively rare brand, all of which the prosecution says proves Caylee was murdered at the Anthony home and then disposed of nearby with her own possessions.
  • Following her daughter’s disappearance — when Casey claimed Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny — Casey went about life as usual … for a woman without a child. Photos of Casey partying without a care in the world were presented as evidence against her by the prosecution.
  • In the months prior to Caylee’s disappearance and death, the Anthony family computer was used to perform internet searches for “neck breaking,” “how to make chloroform,” and “death.” Cindy Anthony — Casey’s mother and Caylee’s grandmother — testified that she was responsible for the searches for chloroform, but this aspect of her testimony was discredited by her work-place’s assertion that she was at work that day and couldn’t have been on her home computer.
  • An air sampling procedure used on Casey Anthony’s car revealed human decomposition and the presence of chloroform. Prosecutors allege Casey used chloroform on her daughter either before or after she duct-taped her nose and mouth shut, causing her to suffocate. They believe she left Caylee’s body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it.
  • Prosecutors presented a diary entry from Casey’s journal dated a few days after Caylee went missing/died in which the accused states that she has “no regrets,” that she “made the right decision” and that she hopes “the end justifies the means,” and that she is “the happiest” she has been “in a very long time.”

The Defense

As the burden of proof lies on the prosecution, the defense’s job lays in poking enough holes in their case. With that in mind, Defense Attorney Jose Baez focused on attacking the prosecution’s evidence as purely circumstantial and not enough to prove guilt.

However, the defense also decided to present their version of how Caylee died. In his opening statements, Defense Attorney Jose Baez claims that Caylee died by accidentally drowning in the Anthony pool and that Casey and her father George attempted to cover up her death by disposing of the body. Baez also claimed in his opening statement that Casey had been sexually abused by her father since she was 8 years old — which George Anthony vehemently denies. However, when Baez failed to present any evidence that sexual abuse actually occurred — and seemed to only suggest the alleged information as “evidence” that Casey had been taught to keep silent — the judge did not allow the defense to mention sexual abuse in their closing arguments.

The defense did take steps to prove that Caylee could have drowned in the family pool, hoping to create the reasonable doubt necessary for the jury to acquit Casey of murder. The defense presented evidence that Caylee was able to open the door to the pool on her own and that she would have been able to do so on the day in question if Cindy Anthony had left the ladder that reached it in place. Cindy didn’t admit to doing so, but Baez, attempting to stir doubt in the jury, posited “how much guilt would she have knowing it was her that left the ladder up that day?” Casey Anthony never took the stand and therefore, just like the prosecution, the defense offered no witnesses to back up their story of how Caylee died.

The fact remains, however, that the defense doesn’t have to prove anything other than there’s a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony is guilty of murder. For that reason, despite much scientific and circumstantial evidence, and the belief held by many outside the courtroom that she is guilty of murder, the case against Casey Anthony in the death of her daughter Caylee is hardly a slam-dunk. Midway through day two of deliberations, it’s anyone’s guess what this jury will decide. One thing is certain — a two-year-old girl died tragically and the judgment won’t bring her back to life.

Have you been following the Casey Anthony trial? Did I leave anything out of this overview that you think is essential to either the prosecution or defense’s case? Weigh in with your thoughts on this case in the comments.

[CNN: The Casey Anthony Trial]
[Orlando Sentinal: Casey Anthony Trial]

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