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Anthony's Parents: Defense 'Baseless', Acquittal Fair

10:17 PM, Jul 5, 2011   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- After less than 11 hours of deliberation, a jury Tuesday found Casey Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter.

But the jury convicted her on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

As the verdict was read, Casey Anthony cried from her seat in the courtroom, breathing deeply as she looked forward. She then hugged her defense attorney Jose Baez and other members of her defense team.

Her father, George Anthony, meanwhile, showed no visible reaction from his seat in the back of the courtroom.

Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. set sentencing at 9 a.m. Thursday for Casey Anthony. She faces up to a year in jail on each of the charges of lying to police.

All 12 jurors in the case declined to speak to the media, court spokeswoman Karen Levey told reporters. "They are just not interested," she said, adding their response was an "unequivocal no." Perry has barred the release of their names at this point, Levey said.

"While the family may never know what happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life," said a statement issued on behalf of Casey Anthony's parents, George and Cindy Anthony, and her brother, Lee Anthony, by their attorney, Mark Lippman. "They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives."

"There are no winners in this case," Baez told reporters after the verdict. "Caylee has passed on far, far too soon." He said his motivation for the last three years has been seeking justice for Caylee as well as Casey Anthony.

"Casey did not murder Caylee," he said. "It's that simple. And today, our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction."

Another defense attorney, J. Cheney Mason, said he hopes the verdict "is a lesson to those of you having indulged in media assassination for three years."

"We're disappointed with the verdict today and surprised, because we know the facts," Lawson Lamar, state attorney for the 9th District, told reporters. But, he said, "I never, ever criticize a jury. Theirs is the task of deciding what to believe."

He praised the job done by prosecutors, but said proving the case was tough, as Caylee's remains were skeletal when they were discovered and lacked any chemical evidence. "This was a dry-bones case," Lamar said. "... The delay in recovering little Caylee's remains worked to our considerable disadvantage."

None of the prosecutors who tried the case -- Linda Drane Burdick, Jeff Ashton and Frank George -- spoke at Lamar's news conference.

The Anthony family statement said, "Despite the baseless defense chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented and the rules that were given to them" by the judge.

The Anthonys asked for privacy "to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward." They asked that well-wishers hoping to donate stuffed animals or toys near their home donate those items instead in Caylee's name to "families in need, religious centers or any other entity where the toys would be appreciated."

The Orange County Sheriff's Office will transport the jurors back to Pinellas County Tuesday night, Levey said. Jury selection was moved to Pinellas County because of extensive publicity surrounding the case in the Orlando area, and the jurors have been sequestered in an Orlando hotel for the trial.

The five alternate jurors also declined to speak to the media. Two of them, however, agreed to the release of their names. Russel Huekler and Dean Edward Eckstadt said they would speak to reporters, but not on Tuesday. The alternate jurors were separated from the jury after deliberations began.

The proceedings stretched to more than six weeks and featured allegations of sexual abuse, questions regarding Casey Anthony's competence and various theories on what happened to Caylee.

Casey Anthony, 25, was charged with seven counts -- first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer in Caylee's 2008 disappearance and death.

Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008, but was not reported missing until July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, tracked her daughter down and demanded answers regarding Caylee's whereabouts.


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