AS A LAWYER and crime writer, I’ve been asked several times about my thoughts on the Casey Anthony trial. If you will permit me, I think the “not guilty” verdicts were the result of two things; one which is strictly legal, the other a matter contained in every murder mystery ever written.
First the legal matter. I think this is fairly simple: The prosecution over-charged the crime. The state would have you believe that Casey deliberately killed her daughter, Caylee. The evidence for that mainly being Casey’s lies and her actions after the child’s death, combined with a lot of circumstantial evidence involving duct tape, chloroform and the “smell” of death in Casey’s car. That’s asking for a lot from very little.
The second is motive. As Parker told Stan in Murder Most Holy, while motive is not a legal element of the crime, juries want to hear one. It was obvious from the evidence presented that Casey didn’t need to kill Caylee to live a life of parties and fun . . . she was already doing that. And if she wanted more freedom all she needed to do was to turn to her overly indulgent parents and they would have gladly cared for the little girl. The un-contradicted testimony was that Casey was not a bad mother. So why would she deliberately kill when that was so unnecessary?
Then what happened? I think the scenario that could have won the jury was a simple accident that went something like this: Casey used the chloroform to put Caylee to sleep and accidently overdosed her, then panicked. That was the “terrible accident that snowballed out of control.” The use of that theory, chloroform used to induce sleep, coupled with Casey’s failure report her child missing for so long, could easily support a charge of aggravated child abuse or manslaughter. It would have been simple and easily understood; not the convoluted story of suppositions that the state presented. Again, as Parker has more than once opined: The simplest story that answers all the questions is probably the right one.
Had that simple theory been the state’s theory, Casey Anthony could have been sentenced to a lot more time behind bars than the little more than “time served” that she’ll actually get. But then that’s just my opinion.