Parenting

Casey Anthony Acquittal: Lack of Evidence or Great Lawyers?

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Some have called it the most stunning verdict since O.J. Simpson. But what got Casey Anthony acquitted? Was it a lack of evidence linking her to the death of her daughter Caylee or was it defense attorney Jose Baez's courtroom strategy?

Anthony was acquitted yesterday of murder, manslaughter, and child abuse charges: She was only convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to police about Caylee's disappearance, where she had last left Caylee, with whom she had last left Caylee with, and where she was employed.

Note: As you read that list, it's easy to understand why the prosecution is still in shock.

Yet those prosecutors found it hard to produce physical evidence connecting Casey Anthony to Caylee Anthony's death. There was no DNA on the duct tape the prosecution said had been used to suffocate the little girl; there was no clear link to chloroform as a murder weapon; and testimony was mixed as to where the smell of decay inside Casey's car came from.

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Jose Baez, Casey Anthony's attorney, played fast and loose in the courtroom. He said Casey had accidentally let Caylee drown in her parents' swimming pool, and that when Casey and father George Anthony discovered Caylee dead, they duct-taped her mouth and put her in the woods to make it look like a homicide. Baez said George had influence over Casey because he had sexually abused her as a child. (George Anthony denied these claims.) Baez took advantage of the fact that no one seemed to know who Caylee's father was: he suggested it could be Casey's brother.

Is Jose Baez a legal genius or should we actually blame the prosecution? Baez's strategy won him his case, after all, but many legal experts say it was a weak prosecution. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum, who watched the Anthony case closely, told the Associated Press, "I don't think it was Baez' great lawyering that won the case. I think it goes back to the prosecution and the weaknesses in their case."

"This is a dry-bones case. Very, very difficult to prove," Chief prosecutor Lawson Lamar said after the verdict. "The delay in recovering little Caylee's remains worked to our considerable disadvantage."

There were six months between Caylee's disappearance and the recovery of her body, which made it difficult for forensic specialists to recover evidence from her remains.

O.J. Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter told the AP that he thought Baez's defense strategy was "brilliant... It really got the jury to focus away from the bad behavior of the mom."