Thursday 7 July 2011

The burden of proof: Casey Anthony, not guilty

This case has caused a hue and cry in the United States and with good cause. In looking at the story and hearing the evidence, it seems so obvious what the truth is, it is difficult to believe there could be a verdict other than guilty.

Casey Anthony leaves the home of her parents on June 16, 2008 taking her daughter Caylee who is almost 3 years old. On July 15, 2008, father George Anthony goes to pick up his daughter's impounded car in a tow yard only to discover a strong smell coming from the trunk which he later tells police he believes was the smell of a decomposing body. When the trunk was opened, there was only a bag of garbage, no human remains. Grandmother Cindy reports Caylee as missing to the Sheriff's office on July 15, exactly 31 days after last seeing her granddaughter.

From here, Casey told numerous lies to the police. She said Caylee had been kidnapped by a nanny. False. She said she worked at Universal Studios. She had been fired years previously. She was arrested for forging cheques and using credit cards without permission. She was bailed out.

Finally on December 11, 2008, a plastic bag containing human remains was found in a forested area near the Anthony home. From here, the evidence just kept mounting against Casey having murdered her own daughter. The trial started on May 24, 2011 and the verdict was given on July 5. Casey was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse, but guilty on four misdemeanour counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. As a result of time already served, Casey will be released on July 13, 2011.

Did Casey Anthony kill her daughter? The argument from the defence was that the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution was flawed. It would seem the jury agreed with that assessment. Nevertheless, the circumstantial evidence is so compelling; it defies belief that another person, same random stranger, could have played a part in this affair. News outlets are comparing this to the O. J. Simpson trial. I quote from Wikipedia article on the Simpson trial: "In post-trial interviews with the jurors, a few said that they believed Simpson probably did commit the murders, but that the prosecution failed to prove their case." Is the Casey Anthony trial the same?

A mother does not report her daughter missing for 31 days; it is the grandmother who reports the girl missing. Michelle Crowder of Durant, Oklahoma started an online petition shortly after the verdict was read to enact what is being called the Caylee Anthony Law. This would make it a felony to not report a missing child within 24 hours. (ABC News)

Background stories on Casey Anthony portray her as an immature young woman who definitely should not have been a parent. Theories abound offering up various scenarios of irresponsibility as an explanation of the death of the child. Did the girl drown in the family pool? Did the mother leave the child in a hot car with the windows closed? Whatever the case, if Casey did not deliberately kill her daughter, did she subsequently try to cover up what actions or inactions on her part which may have contributed to the death of her daughter? Something nefarious has happened. We can feel it; we can taste it. But what exactly? And can anybody prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt?

The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. There is the presumption of innocence. However there is also a process, a legal process which may in itself be flawed. People make mistakes. Evidence gets messed up or even lost. Lawyers fail to make their case or sometimes opposing counsel succeeds in making theirs. Debating societies have exercised their intellectual prowess by proving whether or not the Earth is flat and sometimes the "flat side" has won.

This is an extreme case. This is a sad case. However it reminds me that being a parent is one of the things in life everyone has the right to and yet there is no regulation. If I want to drive a car, I must pass a test. If I want to perform brain surgery, I must get a degree which involves a rigorous testing procedure. If I want to become a parent, well, nobody's going to check my qualifications, my financial means or my psychological fitness. Curious. I'm certain anybody reading this who is a parent will rain a litany of curse words down upon my head for suggesting that they are possibly an unfit parent. They would counter by saying that they love their child. I love my kids too but I wouldn't perform brain surgery on them.


Wikipedia: Casey Anthony trial
The Casey Anthony trial (officially title the State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony) was a criminal trial held in Orlando, Florida from May 9 to July 5, 2011 in the state's Ninth Judicial Circuit Court. Caylee Marie Anthony (August 9, 2005 – c. June 16, 2008) was a child whose disappearance attracted prominent media attention in the United States. Her skeletal remains were discovered on December 11, 2008, almost five months after she was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony. Her mother, Casey Marie Anthony, failed to report her daughter missing, and was indicted on charges of first degree murder. She continued to maintain her innocence throughout her trial.

On July 5, 2011, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse. She was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. On July 7, 2011 she was sentenced to one year and $1,000 in fines for each count. With credit for time served and good behavior, her release date was set for July 13, 2011.

Wikipedia: Timeline of Casey Anthony case

Wikipedia: O. J. Simpson murder trial
The O. J. Simpson murder case (officially called the People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson) was a criminal trial held in Los Angeles County, California Superior Court from January 29 to October 3, 1995, in which former American football star and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder following the June 1994 deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The case has been described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. Simpson was acquitted after a lengthy trial that lasted over nine months.


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

it's so sickening :( i know they had such a hard job being a juror ... but damn ... we all know she's guilty ... she's just another oj