As a former career cop and private investigator that has been working criminal defense cases for the last four years, I cannot see a clear cut winner in the Casey Anthony murder trial verdict, only one loser, little Caylee whose murder it seems is likely to go unpunished, at least in this life.
In the days ahead a lot of criticism will be levied at the police; some deserved. Their inadequate response to a witness report of the possibility of a human skull in the woods near the Anthony’s home delayed the discovery of Caylee’s body by five months. That move likely cost the police and prosecutors the physical evidence they needed to prove this case, regardless of how it happened. However, there were many other police and forensic investigators who devoted themselves to this case who cannot be blamed for not finding what wasn’t there. At least they can’t be accused of manufacturing evidence, a charge we hear all too often, sadly enough.
The prosecutors will be criticized for the case they presented to the jury and it will likely be harsh. Monday morning quarterbacks will second guess every decision the prosecutors made, from deciding to seek the death penalty, to their closing statement. The prosecutors however, like the police were advocates for a deceased little girl that by all accounts was betrayed and murdered by her own mother. They mounted a very strong circumstantial case despite the lack of a literal smoking gun in this case. To have done any less would have been an injustice to the victim and to the people they are sworn to represent.
The defense will be criticized for getting a perceived murderer of the hook. But should they be? Although flawed, our criminal justice system is still the best in the world. It is the best because it presumes our innocence until we have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The 5th and 6th Amendments to our Constitution ensure due process and the right to a vigorous defense when charged with a crime. If you or your loved one were charged with a crime would you want it any other way? Can we criticize Casey Anthony’s defense team for doing their job and holding the prosecution accountable to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt?
The jury is already being called out to explain themselves and their decision to the media. But the jury does not have to put themselves on trial whether the media likes it or not. Their obligation is complete. They sacrificed several weeks of their time sequestered from their families and lives through this media circus of a trail, They listened to the evidence and make a very tough decision based upon that evidence. They did so, and there wasn’t a single hold out, arriving at a unanimous verdict.
Casey Anthony herself may feel like a winner in the short term. She was spared any significant conviction in the death of her daughter. In the long term, however, she’s got to deal with the loss of her daughter and a severely damaged public reputation, if she was not involved in her daughter’s death. That’s not something I’d envy her about. If she is responsible for her daughter’s death, she’s got to live with that too. She may write a book or become the flavor of the day in the next big reality show. For her to do what she is alleged to have done would require her to be a true sociopath, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with someone with that personality trait. They all seem to end up in prison sooner or later, they can’t help themselves. Besides, who’s going to invite her to Thanksgiving dinner?