ORLANDO (CBS4) – Casey Anthony, who was acquitted Tuesday of murdering her two year old daughter Caylee three years ago, will go before Chief Judge Belvin Perry on Thursday to find out how much time she will spend behind bars, if any, for lying to investigators.
Anthony was only convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators. Judge Perry could sentence her to time already served for those crimes. The four counts of lying to sheriff’s deputies each carry a maximum sentence of one year. Anthony has been in jail since her October 2008 arrest on first-degree murder charges.
The jury of seven women and five men took less than 11 hours to find Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. Judge Perry announced their verdict at 2:15 Tuesday afternoon. As his clerk read the verdict, Anthony first looked down, heeding the Judge’s warning against emotional outbursts. She began to cry after the most serious charges produced not-guilty verdicts, including a not-guilty verdict on a count of aggravated child abuse.
When they had all been read, Anthony began to sob and hugged lead defense attorney Jose Baez as the prosecutor Jeff Ashton shook his head in disbelief.
Many people across South Florida were also shocked at the verdict.
“I’m devastated as to this verdict,” Debra Bunker said. “I cannot believe that the verdict has come true to pass. This is another OJ. There is nobody to protect the little voices to say anything. I don’t understand. I don’t.”
One patron at a restaurant told CBS4’s Gio Benitez that justice was not served.
“Someone should go to jail for that,” he said. “That child had to go through all of that. I’m just totally shocked. I can’t believe it.”
After the verdict was read and a smiling Anthony was led away by bailiffs her attorneys faced reporters. They took no questions, but they blasted the media legal pundits for the way Anthony’s case was handled.
“I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in a media assassination for three years, biased, prejudice, and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and what ought to be,” said attorney Cheney Mason.
Lead defense attorney Jose Baez also echoed Mason’s sentiment in that cases like this should not be tried in the media by ‘talking heads’.
“This case has brought on new challenges for all of us. Challenges in the criminal justice system, challenges in the media, and I think we should all take this as an opportunity to learn and to realize that you cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court,” he said.
- Web Extra: PHOTOGALLERY OF IMAGES FROM THE VERDICT
- Web Extra: UNEDITED VIDEO:Sheriff Jerry Demings and State Attorney Lawson Lamar
- Web Extra: UNEDITED VIDEO: Casey Anthony Defense Team
- Web Extra: UNEDITED VIDEO: Casey Anthony Verdict
During month long trial prosecutors argued that Anthony killed Caylee because the toddler interrupted her carefree partying and love life.
Anthony’s attorneys countered that the girl drowned in the family’s pool. They said Anthony panicked and that her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a homicide by placing duct tape over the child’s mouth and dumping the body in some nearby woods. George Anthony has denied that.
“While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives,” said attorney Mark Lippman, speaking for Anthony’s estranged family, who were blamed during trial for sexually abusing Casey, sexual affairs, lies and covering up Caylee’s true demise.
The verdict means that officially Caylee Anthony’s killer is still at large. Prosecutors made no statement about what, if anything, will be done to pursue any other leads in that case. Orange County prosecutor Lawson Lamar did say police and prosecutors will go back to work on the thousands of other cases they have, including other cases involving dead children.