My two cents in the Casey Anthony case:
I reported live more times than I can recall from outside the Anthony house and the once heavily wooded roadside spot a quarter mile from their suburban Orlando home where Caylee’s body was found six months after she disappeared.
It was the murder story that kept on going. Day after day, month after month new scraps of evidence and other breathless nuggets leaked out and were duly reported by our ABC team at WFTV and experts hired to offer context for a kind of gruesome child murder case no one had really covered before.
Frankly, I was happy to leave the grisly drama behind when I moved to Utah in the fall of 2009. But that didn’t lessen the hollow feeling in my stomach this week when I learned of Casey’s acquittal. While my reporting in Orlando always strived to remain on point and objective, I privately believed there might just be enough hard (not circumstantial) evidence to send her away. There was not and the jury acted appropriately – basing its decision on facts (or lack thereof); not emotion.
For me, Casey’s lies and deceptions never seemed to add up. But it doesn’t mean those actions prove she’s a child killer. So our justice system worked. I would be glad to get that kind of careful deliberation if I ever fell into trouble with the law.
The other point I’m taking away this week, just days after we celebrated America’s independence: freedom of speech is alive and well in the United States demonstrated by the virulent anger over the verdict many people are publicly showing. People have been posting signs in Central Florida restaurants saying “Jurors not welcome here” while jurors themselves have been threatened. That’s going too far, but we live in a nation where constitutionally celebrated free speech is still the norm. And did you see the picture of the young guy holding up a sign outside the Orlando courthouse asking: “Casey will you marry me?” It takes all kinds.
In the Casey Anthony case, I’ll take a distasteful verdict and freedom of expression over a sham court of public opinion and dictatorships any day.
A quick add: a reporter friend in Florida tweeted that the tree under which Caylee’s little body was dumped was struck by lightning Thursday – sentencing day and nearly three years to the day after she was reported missing.