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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – Six years after she was acquitted of killing her two-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony insists she doesn’t know how little Caylee died.
“Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total bada**,” she told The Associated Press. “I’d like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, playing sports.”
Anthony, 30, spoke in halting, sober tones. It was the first time she spoke to the news media about her daughter’s death or her years since the trial.
“I’m still not even certain as I stand here today about what happened,” she said.
It’s been almost nine years since Caylee went missing. The child was reportedly last seen on June 16th, 2008. She was first reported missing by Casey Anthony’s mother on July 15th.
A day later, Casey Anthony was arrested on charges of child neglect.
She told police that Caylee had disappeared with a babysitter.
On December 11th, a utility worker in a wooded area near the Anthony home found skeletal remains that were later determined to be Caylee’s.
Experts would testify that air samples indicated that decaying human remains had been present in Casey Anthony’s trunk. However, the government failed to establish how Caylee died, and they couldn’t find her mother’s DNA on the duct tape they said was used to suffocate her.
In the end, prosecutors proved Anthony was a liar but convinced the jury of little else.
The trial was carried live on cable networks and was the focus of daily commentaries by HLN’s Nancy Grace, who called her “the most hated mom in America,” and, derisively, “tot mom”.
Anthony views herself as something of an “Alice in Wonderland”, with the public as the “Red Queen”.
“The queen is proclaiming: ‘No, no, sentence first, verdict afterward,'” she says. “I sense and feel to this day that is a direct parallel to what I lived. My sentence was doled out long before there was a verdict. Sentence first, verdict afterward. People found me guilty long before I had my day in court.”
Talking to The AP, she admitted that she lied to police: About being employed at Universal Studios; about leaving Caylee with a babysitter; about telling two people, both of them imaginary, that Caylee was missing; about receiving a phone call from Caylee the day before she was reported missing.
“Even if I would’ve told them everything that I told to the psychologist, I hate to say this but I firmly believe I would have been in the same place. Because cops believe other cops. Cops tend to victimize the victims. I understand now … I see why I was treated the way I was even had I been completely truthful.”
She added: “Cops lie to people every day. I’m just one of the unfortunate idiots who admitted they lied.”
“My dad was a cop, you can read into that what you want to.”
At the trial, the lead defense attorney suggested that the little girl drowned and that Casey’s father, George Anthony, helped cover that up – and sexually abused his daughter.
Her father has vehemently denied the accusations.
Asked about the drowning defense, Casey hesitated: “Everyone has their theories, I don’t know.”
An Associated Press reporter met Anthony as she protested against President Donald Trump at a rally in Palm Beach.
It’s unclear why Anthony agreed to speak to the AP and allowed photographs to be taken.
She later texted the reporter, asking that they not run the story.
Among other things, she cited the bankruptcy case in which she has been embroiled since 2013: “During the course of my bankruptcy, the rights to my story were purchased by a third party company for $25,000 to protect my interests. Without written authorization from the controlling members of this company, I am prohibited from speaking publicly about my case at any time.”
In addition, she said she had violated a confidentiality agreement with her employer, and remained under subpoena and subject to deposition in her bankruptcy case.
Yet she participated in five on-the-record interviews over a one-week period, many of them audiotaped.
Anthony lives in the South Florida home of Patrick McKenna, a private detective who was the lead investigator on her defense team.
She also works for him, doing online social media searches and other investigative work.
McKenna was also the lead investigator for OJ Simpson.
Anthony’s bedroom walls are decorated with photos of Caylee and she wept when she showed off her daughter’s colorful, finger-painted artwork.
Still, she asserts she is happy. For her 31st birthday she plans to go skydiving. She enjoys taking photos, mostly of squirrels and other wildlife. And she loves her investigative work.
“I love the fact that I have a unique perspective and I get a chance to do for other people what so many others have done for me,” she said. Someday, she said, she’d like to get a private investigator’s license and work for a defense team.
She talks of working on a DUI manslaughter case where the accused took a plea deal.
“I look at him and I think this kid almost lost his life for something they can’t definitively prove that he did,” she said. “I’ve lived it firsthand. I didn’t do what I was accused of but I fought for three years. Not just for me, but for my daughter.”
Occasionally she goes out with friends to area bars and has struck up a few short-lived romantic relationships. When she is out in public, men are attracted to her long, dark locks and petite frame, and often pay for her signature drinks: either a Fat Tire beer or a Jack Daniels and diet coke, with a lime wedge. But news that she is there spreads quickly; people whisper and snap photos, and she retreats to her newly purchased SUV so she can return home, alone.
And Anthony spoke defiantly of her pariah status.
“I don’t give a s— about what anyone thinks about me, I never will,” she said. “I’m OK with myself, I sleep pretty good at night.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)