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Casey Anthony’s Lawyer Says She Rejected Early Plea Deal

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Casey Anthony (R) leaves with her attorney Jose Baez from the Booking and Release Center at the Orange County Jail after she was acquitted of murdering her daughter Caylee Anthony on July 17, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. It was unknown where Casey Anthony was going after the release.  (Photo by Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images)

Casey Anthony (R) leaves with her attorney Jose Baez from the Booking and Release Center at the Orange County Jail after she was acquitted of murdering her daughter Caylee Anthony on July 17, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. It was unknown where Casey Anthony was going after the release. (Photo by Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images)

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – In a just-published book, Casey Anthony’s attorney Jose Baez revealed that prosecutors offered Anthony a plea deal on a lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter for the death of her daughter, Caylee.

Baez’s claims come one year after Anthony was acquitted of murder for the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony.

Casey Anthony would have faced the death penalty if she had been convicted of killing Caylee. The deal prosecutors offered, according to Baez, would have sent her to prison for 13 years. Baez told the Associated Press that at the time, he thought it might be in Anthony’s best interest to take the deal.

“There were times, difficult times, when the evidence didn’t look good for Casey,” Baez said.

But, according to Baez’s book, Casey wouldn’t even consider taking the deal. Baez said that as he got more familiar with the state’s evidence in the case, he was sure she would be acquitted of murder.

Prosecutors claimed Anthony suffocated Caylee with duct tape so she could spend time with her boyfriend and be free for Orlando’s nightlife. Baez said during the trial — repeated again in his book — that Caylee accidentally drowned in a family swimming pool and that her father, George Anthony, hid the body. Baez also claimed George Anthony sexually abused his daughter.

George Anthony denied both allegations, and there was little brought up about them during the trial. Baez said the defense wasn’t required to put on any such evidence because proving the case is the prosecution’s burden, not the other way around.

Baez was asked by the Associated Press whether he thought Anthony’s habitual lies surrounding Caylee’s death, including that a babysitter had taken the child, could have indicated to him that she was actually guilty.

“I don’t think the lies are indicative of innocence or guilt,” he said. “The lies were there long before Caylee passed away.” In the book, he says Anthony had built a “fantasy world,” and her lies weren’t evidence of guilt but signs of someone with “serious mental health issues.”

Overall, Baez attributed the strong public backlash against the jury’s verdict to a lack of understanding about the judicial system and because “a lot of people bought into the hype” that Anthony must have been guilty. He noted that jurors who gave media interviews after the trial said they waited for weeks for strong evidence that never came.

“We need to talk about whether an actual murder occurred,” he said. “That’s where the focus should have been, and it never was.”

Baez wouldn’t say what Casey is doing today or how many times he’s talked to her recently. Anthony currently lives in an undisclosed location in Florida as finishes off her probation on an unrelated conviction. Her parole ends August 21.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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