A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Anthony trial and stated that the prosecution was messing up the case and that it was essentially theirs to lose; I was right. Yesterday, I predicted that Casey Anthony would be found guilty because of a few simple points that should be driven home; I was wrong.
It is unfortunate that media talking heads, including a former prosecutor who has been in trouble for playing fast and loose with the rules of professional conduct, are now excoriating the jury for their decision. I will add that I strongly disagree with the decision but I won’t (verbally) open fire on the jury for that is the justice system. If there was fault here then it falls squarely at the door of the prosecution; as I said before, this case would never have been handled this way in the county where I live.
Casey Anthony was found not guilty of any type of homicide, yet the jury found her guilty of lying. The perverse irony of the verdict is that rational people would think the only reason to tell those lies was because she was guilty of causing the disappearance and death of her child.
Anthony’s defense team put on a theory of their case that Casey knew from the outset that her child, Caylee, had died in an accident, that her father or mother was in some way responsible for this accident and that she was too afraid to say anything because she had been molested by her father. Therefore, everything for her hinged on the allegation of being a victim of her father—yet no evidence was introduced to show this, none. Therefore, molestation could not be considered by the jury as a reason for her to lie; no other reason for her lies and cover up were given by the defense and so I believed it was rational to assume that the jury would conclude, when considering all of the evidence, that she was guilty.
When you torpedo the “abuse excuse” then the physical evidence pointed to her being the killer and prime mover in the cover up. I thought this all made sense, if kept simple, and so predicted that the jury would be led to the guilty verdict through a very simple chain of logic and reason…….
No sooner had I penned my article yesterday predicting a guilty verdict than I turned on the television and watched a prosecutor in the midst of laughing at the defense lawyer during the defense closing argument. I refer you back to what I said about working hard to ensure the jury does not dislike you. Regardless of the strength of the evidence it is unlikely that anyone would find a closing argument, in a case as horrific as this, a time for ridicule and that undoubtedly made some feel some animus towards the prosecutor. Especially when one considers that the prosecutor was laughing at someone the jurors may have liked, after all he greeted them and they reciprocated each morning.
I then heard perhaps one of the more tortured rebuttals I have ever heard. It was almost as if some of the lawyers felt that this was their chance in the spotlight and they would be damned if they would give up an opportunity to hear themselves speak. Painful, tortured, long-winded were all words that sprung to mind. There was no string of logic, there was no brevity, no theme and that was a problem.
I was waiting to hear either a motive other than “she wanted to party” or a recitation to the jury that: “Friends, the Judge will instruct you that we don’t have to prove a motive. Some people just kill for reasons known only to them; then they lie about it, again and again, and when that falls apart they blame others for unspeakable crimes of abuse with no evidence to back it up in sure and certain hope that that smoke and those mirrors will keep you from realizing the evil they have done”.
The bottom line is that if you don’t have to prove a motive then let the jury know that. Authority and authenticity go a long way—it is counter-productive to overreach and the prosecution overreached.
“Keep it simple” is a really good way to go.
Another key point, in my mind, was that the defense was not allowed to mention the “sexual abuse” in closing. A small question here is why on earth would the prosecution object to that? The defense put on no evidence of any abuse and to hang them high on that, the connecting thread that they suggested caused their client to keep quiet for so long could have been blown apart and their entire theory would be disassembled before the jury. The defense would have been shown as having acted inconsistently with their earlier commitment and shown up for failing to keep a promise; that might well have negated any "liking" the jury had for the defense lawyer. Instead the prosecution stuck with the “she wanted to party” tactic. That did not work.
There are some who say that the prosecution overcharged Casey Anthony and that the jury may have believed Caylee died accidentally and then her mother panicked. With the evidence of duct tape and chloroform, I think the charge was the only way to go. I may be wrong again here, but it beggars belief that a child would die accidentally and then have duct tape placed on their mouth. If that is the theory then murder is the only charge.
People do not want to believe that mothers kill their children. Only those of us who have worked closely with victims can very quickly overcome this bias. Unfortunately, and I did not see all of the trial, it appears that the prosecution did not spend much time addressing that bias and putting it to rest—I did not read or hear about it being addressed in closing. The simple fact is, however, that mothers also shouldn’t lie for a month about the whereabouts of their child; they shouldn’t plead with others to help find their child when they know the child is dead and they shouldn’t accuse people of sex abuse without the evidence to back it up.
In the days when the public are transfixed to CSI, NCIS and Law and Order they believe that without DNA being produced and matched in 24 hours there can be no case. We know that juries expect cut and dried forensics; yet we also know there is rarely any such thing. I was waiting for a prosecutor to explain the way things really work—that too might have helped—instead what we saw were prosecution experts who had been improperly prepped and who gave conflicting and confusing testimony. As I mentioned in my earlier piece, once authority is lost it is hard, indeed near impossible, to be regained.
At the end of the day, this jury heard every piece of evidence and watched everything that happened in the courtroom and they made their decision; they should not be blamed or maligned. It may be now that they go back and watch video from the court, perhaps that showing Casey transfixed by evidence when shown outside the presence of the jury and then crying when seeing the same evidence with the jury present. Their decision is final and we must respect the justice system, while seeking to improve it. And I must admit that I stuck my neck out and was wrong.
I will finally add, however, that what was truly sickening today was to see the defense celebration (that was then dialed back a notch, perhaps when they realized it might look distasteful). One of the defense lawyers lambasted the media for jumping to conclusions and assassinating Casey Anthony’s character without all the evidence----I wonder if George Anthony, Casey’s father, feels the same way about him?