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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A BOMBSHELL, ALL RIGHT – AND JUSTICE WAS SERVED, MOSTLY

Im just like everybody else in the country, in that I followed the Casey Anthony murder trial just as thoroughly as I and the rest of us - followed the O. J. Simpson murder trial in 1995. Geez, it had ALL the elements that we all love to slobber over, right? Cute little dead 2 year old, slutty-appearing young mom, clueless parents, body thrown out like so much trash, claims of sexual abuse by the young mom, allegations of an accidental drowning and a cover-up, twaddle-dee-dee, twaddle-dee-dum. It was the same kind of situation that makes us all slow down, stop and gawk at accident scenes. And, oh BOY, did the press and all the rest of us WALLOW in it.

Well, today Casey Anthony was acquitted of all charges except 4 misdemeanor counts of making false statements to the police. The jury of five men and seven women, who heard testimony in the month-long trial and deliberated  for nearly 11 hours, had a differing viewpoint than the prosecution’s. The relatively quick not guilty verdicts are, to all outward appearances, a rebuke of the government's case, which lacked any direct evidence of Anthony's involvement in the death of her daughter, Caylee. In other words, the prosecutors couldn’t prove their case.

Defense Attorney Jose Baez called it a bittersweet victory. “We are happy for Casey; there are no winners in this case. Caylee has passed on far too soon,” he said, referring to Ms. Anthony’s daughter. He’s done his job, which was to create enough reasonable doubt in the juror’s minds that a lesser charge or even an acquittal was possible. He added: “Casey did not murder Caylee. It is that simple, and today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.”

So, was justice served? Well, yes and no.

There can be no justice for Caylee, just as there really isn’t any justice for Casey. Yes, I know – she was acquitted of all of the major charges, and she’ll probably serve a minimum sentence with the time she’s already been in jail taken into account and deducted from the sentence that she’s going to get for lying to the police. The criminal justice system got this one right, in my NON-lawyer opinion. Yes, the child is dead, and somebody ought to pay for that. However, there really wasn’t any way to make anybody pay for it because the cause of death could never be established. Did Casey Anthony chloroform her kid so she could go out and play? Probably. Did the chloroform cause her death? Again, probably. Was the prosecution able to prove that? Nope. Was the prosecution able to pin the crime on anybody? Again, nope.

The wild accusations of molestation, of accidental drowning, of Grandpa scaring Casey into going along with disposing of the dead child in a garbage bag in a swamp, the wilder insinuations that maybe her brother was really the father of the child, or maybe Grandpa was, or maybe the next-door neighbor’s Martian cellar-dweller – all were laid out for the public’s view. The dueling experts were stunningly stupid, and obviously jealous of their own territories. The parents and the brother were obviously devastated by the death of the baby, their daughter’s arrest for that death, this very public trial, and absolutely flattened by their daughter’s wild accusations against them all. This is, of course, the collateral damage that this sort of circus engenders. This family will never be the same again. All of their lives ended the day that Caylee died, no matter how it happened, or who actually did it. The cover-up and their daughter’s willful lies ended that.

The standards of proof in a felony death penalty case are, as is necessary, high. There can be no i not dotted, no t not crossed, there must be proof far beyond a reasonable doubt, and that was not attained in this case. The prosecution, due to decomposition of the body, couldn’t even prove how Caylee died, just that she was dead and dumped like garbage. The jury had a very tough job to do, and they did it well. Whether or not I personally agree with the verdict has nothing to do with whether or not it was the right one. The state couldn’t prove its case, and the jury obviously agreed with Mr. Baez. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have voted to acquit.

This brings me to another point, one that everybody seems to have forgotten about. Yes, it’s a tragedy when a child – ANY child – is murdered, whether by the parent(s) or by persons unknown. Yes, when this happens, just about every caring, responsible parent in the world wants the state to find and PUNISH the bastard, preferably by removing body parts as painfully as is possible. That’s where all the death penalty hysteria comes in. As I’ve said before and doubtless will say again, I am NOT an advocate of the death penalty. Once upon a time, a LONG time ago, I was; I was a real devotee of “KILL THEM ALL, and let *their* version of god sort them out.”

Well, that’s murder too, isn’t it? And where is the justice in an eye for an eye, if you profess to be any sort of Christian?

The point is that Casey Anthony is now living in a prison that is tighter and more restrictive than anything that the worst nightmares of mankind could ever devise. Regardless of whether or not she actually did kill her child, that child is still dead, and she was still accused of the murder. Remember, “acquittal” is NOT the same thing as “innocent”, and the world around her has already, rightly or wrongly, judged and condemned her as guilty. She’s going to have to live with that for the rest of her life. She’s going to have to live with the knowledge that her child is dead. No matter how many other children she may or may not have, her first-born is dead. No matter how much any of the rest of us might wish for it, there is no justice for either Caylee or her mother – or the rest of the Anthony family. The system worked right this time. Justice was served, this time.

Poor little girls.

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