By Alisa Rao
Caylee Marie Anthony (August 9, 2005 – 2008) was a small girl who lived in Orlando, Florida, with her mother, Casey Marie Anthony and was raised by her maternal grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony.
Caylee Marie Anthony
On July 15, 2008, she was reported missing in a 9-1-1 call made by Cindy, who said she had not seen Caylee for 31 days and that Casey's car smelled like a dead body had been inside it. After finding out that their granddaughter had been missing for about 4 weeks and finding Casey at her boyfriend’s house, smoking Marijuana. Cindy made Casey get on the 9-1-1 call however the first red flag was when Casey’s attitude appears different to Cindy’s when it is Casey’s own daughter that was missing. Casey gave varied explanations or excuses to Caylee's whereabouts before finally telling her that she had not seen Caylee for weeks. Casey lied to detectives, telling them Caylee had been kidnapped by a nanny by the name of Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, a fictional character that Casey had made up on June 9, and that she had been trying to find her, too frightened to alert the authorities. She was charged with first-degree murder in October 2008 and pleaded not guilty.
When Detective Melich of the Orange County Sheriff's Department began investigating Caylee's disappearance, he found discrepancies in Casey's signed statement. When questioned, Casey said Caylee had been kidnapped by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, whom she also identified as "Zanny", Caylee's nanny. The ‘Zanny’ had never been seen by Casey's family or friends. Casey also told police that she was working at Universal Studios, a lie she had been telling her parents for years. Casey was infact, unemployed. When Investigators took Casey to Universal Studios on July 16, 2008, the day after Caylee was reported missing, and asked her to show them her office. Casey led detectives around the building for around 25 minutes before she stopped, started smiling and jokingly, put her hands in her pockets and admitted that she had no office there and that she had been fired years before. Followed, by the police taking her to a conference room and a 4-hour interrogation began.
Casey was first charged with giving false statements to law enforcement, child neglect, and obstruction of a criminal investigation. On August 11, 12 and 13, 2008, Roy Kronk, meter reader called police about a suspicious object found in a forested area near the Anthony residence. He reported to them that he had seen what appeared to be a skull near a gray bag (Caylee’s skeletal remainds) On that occasion, the officer conducted a short search and stated he did not see anything. They searched and found the remains of a child in a trash bag. Police investgiators recovered duct tape which was hanging from hair attached to the skull and some tissue left on the skull. On December 19, 2008, medical examiner Jan Garavaglia confirmed after police autopsy showed that the remains found were those of Caylee Anthony. The death was ruled a homicide and the cause of death listed as undetermined due to the wounds Caylee received.
Casey Anthony at trial in court, potentially facing death penalty
Trial lasted from May to July 2011. The prosecution sought the death penalty and alleged Casey wished to free herself from parental responsibilities and murdered her daughter by administering chloroform and applying duct tape. The defense team, led by Jose Baez, countered that the child had drowned accidentally in the family's swimming pool on June 16, 2008, and that George Anthony disposed of the body. The defense contended that Casey lied about this and other issues because of a dysfunctional upbringing, which they said included sexual abuse by her father. The defense did not present evidence as to how Caylee died, nor evidence that Casey was sexually abused as a child. Casey did not testify.
On July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, but guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. She was released on July 17, 2011. A Florida appeals court overturned two of the misdemeanor convictions on January 25, 2013.
The not-guilty murder verdict was met with public outrage and was both attacked and defended by media and legal commentators. Some complained that the jury misunderstood the meaning of reasonable doubt,while others said the prosecution relied too heavily on the defendant's allegedly poor moral character because they had been unable to show conclusively how the victim had died. Similar to the O.J. Simpson case, Time magazine described the case as "the social media trial of the century".
All recordings of interrogation, trials and court can be found here: