In a stunning verdict, a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee Tuesday in a widely-followed case that had the vast majority of TV talking heads presuming Anthony's guilt. Instead the jury found Anthony not guilty of either first degree murder or manslaughter, delivering guilty verdicts on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers (misdemeanor offenses). "Prosecutors claimed that Casey Anthony killed her daughter by drugging Caylee with chloroform and suffocating her with duct tape over her mouth and nose," reports ABC News. "Lawyers for Casey Anthony, who never took the stand, admitted on the first day of the trial that the 25-year-old single mother had made up a complex web of lies," including the false claim that a babysitter had stolen Caylee. The defense ultimately argued that Caylee drowned to death in the family's pool and Casey never reported the death because she "went into a dark corner, to pretend as if nothing was wrong" noting that she was sexually abused by her father when she was younger. Already, the case is drawing comparisons to the O.J. Simpson murder case. Here's what commentators and reporters are saying:
The prosecution's case was weakened by lack of physical evidence, writes Lizette Alvarez at The New York Times.
Forensic evidence was tenuous and no witnesses ever tied Ms. Anthony to Caylee’s murder. Investigators found no trace of DNA or solid signs of chloroform or decomposition inside the trunk of Ms. Anthony’s car, where prosecutors said Ms. Anthony stashed Caylee before disposing of her body.
The prosecution was also hurt by the fact that nobody knows exactly how Caylee died; her body was too badly decomposed to pinpoint cause of death.
They relied mostly on circumstantial evidence, notes ABC News:
Prosecutors built a case of circumstantial evidence that documented how Casey Anthony moved in with her boyfriend Tony Lazzaro shortly after Caylee disappeared, partied at clubs, took part in a "hot body" contest, and got the phrase "bella vita" -- or beautiful life -- tattoed on her shoulder in the month after Caylee died and while her mother was pretending she was still alive.
The backlash As news of the verdict broke, commentators began reacting with a level of anger akin to the stunned reactions following O.J. Simpson's not guilty verdict. "Not since OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman have I felt so sickened at the outcome of a trial," writes Meredith Carroll at the Babble. Headline News' Nancy Grace, who long assumed Anthony was guilty, did not hide her disappointment with the verdict. "The facts and the evidence in this case. There is no way that this is a verdict that speaks the truth," she said:
In the court of public opinion, Casey Anthony is the new O.J., writes Jeane Sager at The Stir:
We learned a lesson out of OJ, didn't we? That America will continue to make up its own mind even after the verdict. Most of America thinks he killed his wife, and that "not guilty" more than a decade ago hasn't changed that. A jury may have found Casey Marie Anthony "not guilty," but I don't expect that to change minds. I'm expecting a decade down the road, she'll still be one of America's most hated moms.
This should be a humbling moment for the media writes Eliot Spitzer at CNN:
We may never find out who killed Caylee, how she disappeared, who hid her body. But we do know that Casey Anthony will not be put to death for what happened to her daughter. And we are reminded that it is virtually impossible to know how a jury will rule, even in the most-publicized and sensational of cases.
Virtually every TV pundit and talking head thought she was guilty.
They were wrong.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.