I have been asked to comment on the Casey Anthony trial. I did not follow the trial in detail as it was happening. I am not in a position to judge particular tactics used by the lawyers, nor am I able to offer my opinion on the adequacy of the evidence presented. I focus on the result - the “not guilty “verdicts.
In Florida, to prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove each of the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. (Victim) is dead.What is a reasonable doubt? Standard Florida jury instructions provide as follows (emphasis added):
2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).
3. There was a premeditated killing of (victim).
A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable.Casey Anthony does not behave as many people believe she should. She may have mental problems. She may have killed her daughter. Much of the public and many passionate commentators have concluded that she is a murderer. Fortunately for us, her guilt or innocence must be determined in a court of law.
It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.
A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence, or the lack of evidence. If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.
My take on the situation is this: The jury members took their jobs very seriously. Based on the evidence that was presented in court, they were not convinced that each element of the charged felony offenses had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As to the first degree murder charge, probably, the conflicting evidence about the 2nd and 3rd elements of the crime entered into their decision making.
I found particularly haunting the statement by the alleged paramoor of Casey's father that he had told her that Caylee's death had been an "accident that snowballed out of control." Also, the prosecution had trouble establishing exactly how Caylee died.
What is galling about this, is that Casey's lying contributed to the delay in finding Caylee's body. Nonetheless, the burden of proof does not shift to the defendant in a criminal trial, no matter how big a liar she is alleged to be. Nor should it.
Whatever conviction the jury had of Casey’s guilt, it must have been of the “wavering and vacillating” variety. That being the case, they had no choice but to acquit her.