Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Anthony Verdict

Gary Fouse

Since everyone else is weighing in on the Casey Anthony verdict, I may as well too. I should state that only in the closing days did I follow this case with any degree of attention. Did the verdict surprise me? Yes.

I agree with those who criticize the verdict and say that juries are leaning too much toward the CSI mentality. They want hard forensic and scientific evidence like DNA or fingerprints. Here they didn't have it. Nor were there any eyewitnesses. Nor could cause of death be established. This case rested mostly on circumstantial evidence. Yet defendants can, indeed, be convicted on circumstantial evidence. The strongest circumstantial evidence was the lies of Casey Anthony to her parents and to police in the wake of her daughter's disappearance, as well as her behavior while her daughter was missing. Indeed, she was convicted on four counts of lying to the police. The question begs; why did she lie to the police, and why did she lie to her parents.

Of course, who can believe what either one of those parents said? The whole family is a mess. Maybe that's what made the jurors throw up their hands in confusion-which leads to reasonable doubt. Yet, does it really make sense to argue that George Anthony-whatever his flaws are-a former cop -to come home to a drowned granddaughter in the swimming pool and decide to cover it up and conceal the body? C'mon! Who would cover up an accident to make it look like a crime?

Then you throw in the chloroform residue found in the trunk of Casey's car, the smell of decomposition in the trunk, and a hair from the trunk matching a hair found at the scene of the skeletal remains.

But what it keeps coming back to is Casey Anthony's lies and behavior while her daughter was missing. That brings it down to common sense, which the jurors seem to have forgotten.

So far, one alternate juror has spoken to the press, and he says he agrees with the verdict. He says George Anthony was hiding something. Probably so; a love affair, child molestation, which was never proven though alleged by the defense, who knows what else. Perhaps just a desire to protect his daughter from the consequences of what she did. Call me a cynic, but in all that crying George did on the stand, I never saw one actual tear. Ditto for Cindy Anthony.

The alternate juror says the prosecution did not prove motive (not required under the law). Didn't Casey Anthony's wild behavior while her daughter was missing demonstrate her motive-to be free and unburdened by her daughter? Is Casey Anthony psycologically disturbed? No doubt. Her behavior is beyond comprehension.

But to play devil's advocate, it is true that too many witnesses gave questionable testimony. It is also true that the investigation suffered a Dennis Fung (from the OJ Simpson trial) moment when that meter reader called in to cops that he had found bones in the swamp, and the cops failed to find them only to have the same person call again months later from the same spot, at which point they were recovered. That stinks, and when the prosecution has to contend with that kind of screw-up, their whole case is called into question by the jury.

It is a case with few if any heroes and one that will be second-guessed for years. It is also a case where justice will not be done. There is no one else for the police to investigate. Like the Simpson case, there is little left to do except decide whether to prosecute the parents for perjury and close the file.


Dick Stanley said...

I suppose you could convict on circumstantial evidence but it raises reasonable doubt in a juror's mind, and that would be enough to acquit.

Miggie said...

People are convicted on circumstantial evidence all the time, even when there is no body at all.
If circumstances like this raise reasonable doubt in a jury like this, then we should get professional jurors.
There would be some minimum threshold of IQ or common sense for jurors. This jury didn't have it.