July 5th, 2011
07:55 PM ET

Jury's verdict: Casey Anthony not guilty of murder

Editor's note: For more on the jury's finding that Casey Anthony is not guilty in daughter Caylee's death read our full story here.

[Updated at 8:20 p.m.] From the moment word came that Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, online networking sites were flooded with a cascade of amateur commentary. A few big names, including Kim Kardashian, joined the fray. Most condemned the verdict - "no justice for Caylee" was a common comment - which comes after years of the case serving as fodder for cable news, tabloids and the like.

[Updated at 7:55 p.m.] Mourners of Caylee Anthony want you to turn your porch lights on tonight in honor of the slain 2-year-old.

The Facebook event, "Porch lights on for Caylee Marie Anthony," urges people "all over the world" to start participating at "9 pm in your own time zone."

Already, 546,610 have said they're attending, and some say their lights are already on.

ALTERNATE JUROR SPEAKS

[Updated at 7:20 p.m.] Alternate juror Russell Huekler said he agrees with the jury's verdict "wholeheartedly" and surmised that Caylee Anthony's death was a "horrific accident" gone awry.

"The prosecution did not prove their case," said Huekler, who sat through the entire case but did not get to deliberate the charges.

Prosecutors failed to answer the question of how Caylee died, he said.

From the testimony, Huekler said he drew the conclusion that "it was probably a horrific accident" that Anthony and her father, George Anthony, covered up.

"Unfortunately it did snowball and got away from them," Huekler said. "It was such a horrific accident that they didn't know how to deal with it. The family appeared to be very dysufintional and instead of admitting there was an accident, they chose to hide it, for whatever reason."

CASEY ANTHONY'S FAMILY

[Updated at 5:08 p.m.] Attorney Mark Lippman issued a statement on behalf of Lee, George and Cindy Anthony:

While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.

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 Honorable Judge Perry to guide them.

The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately.

The family also wanted the public to know that if anyone wanted to honor Caylee by leaving stuffed animals or other toys at any area near their home, that they would prefer those items be donated in Caylee’ s name to families in need, religious centers, or any other entity where the toys would be appreciated.

ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

[Updated at 4:10 p.m.] Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings issues a plea for restraint after Casey Anthony is acquitted of murder.

"As the verdict has been rendered we ask our community to respect the decision the jury and court have made today. We ask for your continued peaceful acknowledgement of that verdict.

THE PROSECUTION SPEAKS

[Updated at 3:47 p.m.] The delay in recovering Caylee Anthony's remains worked to the "considerable disadvantage" to the prosecution's efforts to prove Casey Anthony's guilt, Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Lawson Lamar said.

With no "smoking gun" and a victim who was "reduced by time and the elements to skeletal remains," made the case all the more the more difficult to prove, he said. Nonetheless, he said, police and prosecutors did their job - and so did the jury.

"I never, ever criticize a jury; theirs is a task of deciding what to believe," he said. "We're disappointed with the verdict today and surprised because we know the facts and we put in absolutely every single piece of evidence that existed."

He said his staff would return to the task of addressing the 101,00 cases that come to his office each year, including a handful of open child murder cases.

"Child murders, regrettably and terribly, are not rare in America today and those deaths are no less horrible," he said. "The only difference is the news has not highlighted their murders."

He also praised his staff for not talking about the case outside of the courtroom, saying the rush to convict Casey Anthony in the news "led to the great expense" of having to seek a jury "outside the media market."

"So much of the angst and taxpayer expense could've been avoided if others had not succumbed to the temptation provided by quick notoriety," Lawson said.

"For us the case has never been about the defendant in particular. It has always been about seeking justice for Caylee and speaking on her behalf."

THE JURY

[Updated at 3:14 p.m.] Members of the jury in the Casey Anthony case have said they are not interested in speaking with members about the case or the verdict, a court spokeswoman said.

[Updated at 3:10 p.m.] We are waiting on an expected news conference from the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial.

A room has been set up for them to address the media, but none are required to actually say anything if they do not want to.

THE DEFENSE SPEAKS

[Updated at 2:50 p.m.] Defense Attorney Jose Baez said he had mixed emotions about the case and that he had to work hard against media bias that existed during the search for Caylee and the case against Casey Anthony.

"You cannot convict someone until they have their day in court," he said.

Baez said he was happy for Casey Anthony and the decision made by the jury. Now he hopes Casey Anthony can move on.

"I want her to grieve and to grow and somehow get her life back together," he said.

Baez said the case was a true example of a jury doing what they are supposed to - finding their verdict based on evidence and not emotion.

"We have the greatest constitution in the world and if the media and other members of the public don’t respect it, it will become meaningless," he said. "And today and yesterday on the Fourth of July,  there was a breath of life."

Baez said he is thrilled that when he goes home today and his daughter asks what he did today he can say - "I saved a life."

"I think this case is a perfect example for why the death penalty does not work... " Baez added. "Murder is not right no matter who does it."

[Updated at 2:45 p.m.] Dorothy Clay Sims speaking first for the defense team addressed the media.

"I am thankful for today's verdict on behalf of Casey Anthony," she said.

Defense Attorney Cheney Mason also addressed the media, angrily scolding them for their coverage of the case.

"I hope that this is a lesson to those who have indulged in media assassination for three years," he said.

Defense Attorney Jose Baez added that "while we're happy for Casey there are no winners in this case."

"Caylee has passed on far, far too soon, and what my driving force has been for the past three years is to make sure there has been justice for Caylee and Casey," he said. "Casey did not murder Caylee, it's that simple. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction."

[Updated at 2:34 p.m.] A room is being prepared for the jury to take questions from the media about their verdict.

THE REACTION

iReport: What's your reaction to the verdict

[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] For the first time a wide smile came across Casey Anthony's face. She began to smile and laugh as her team surrounded her and congratulated her on being found not guilty of murdering her daughter.

[Updated at 2:29 p.m.] Casey Anthony took tissues from a court bailiff and wiped her face at the back of the courtroom.

[Updated at 2:26 p.m.] Casey Anthony embraced her attorney Jose Baez and the rest of her legal team before sobbing.

Anthony wiped tears from her eyes as her team of lawyers hugged each other.

[Updated at 2:24 p.m.] Casey Anthony wiped tears from her eyes and clutched her attorneys' hands as the judge addressed the courtroom.

[Updated at 2:23 p.m.] Casey Anthony returned to the courtroom after briefly leaving with a slight smile on her face.

The judge set sentencing for Thursday at 9 a.m.

[Updated at 2:22 p.m.] Casey Anthony has left the courtroom. Her parents also quickly left the courtroom after the verdict was read.

[Updated at 2:22 p.m.] Judge Belvin Perry confirms the jury's verdict.

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] Casey Anthony cried as she hugged her defense attorney Jose Baez before she approached a podium to be addressed by the judge.

THE VERDICT

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] A poll of the jurors showed they all agreed on the verdict for every count.

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] Casey Anthony has been found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement in the case of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, who was slain in 2008.

[Updated at 2:19 p.m.] Casey Anthony is sobbing in court as the verdict is being read.

[Updated at 2:17 p.m.]  Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter.

[Updated at 2:16 p.m.] Judge Belvin Perry is reading over the verdict form filled out by the jury.

[Updated at 2:15 p.m.] The jury has entered the courtroom.

[Updated at 2:15 p.m.] Members inside the courtroom have stood up as Judge Belvin Perry prepares to bring in the jury.

[Updated at 2:11 p.m.] George Anthony is sitting with his eyes closed and his hands clasped next to his wife Cindy inside the courtroom as they await to hear their daughter's fate.

[Updated at 2:04 p.m.] Casey Anthony, flanked by her lawyers, is sitting silently, biting her lip and taking deep breaths as she awaits the jury's verdict.

[Updated at 2:02 p.m.] Casey Anthony has just entered the courtroom and was met by two of her lawyers. She is wearing a pink ruffled shirt, her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was biting her nails.

[Updated at 1:57 p.m.] Jose Baez, one of Casey Anthony's lawyers, has just arrived at the courthouse in Orlando, Florida, In Session reports.

THE DELIBERATION

[Updated at 1:52 p.m.] The jury deliberated for 10 hours, 40 minutes and 33 seconds before reaching a verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, which included 33 days of testimony and two days of closing arguments, according to CNN sister network HLN.

[Updated at 1:45 p.m.] The jury has reached a verdict in the Casey Anthony capital murder trial, according to staff at the Orange County, Florida, courthouse.

The verdict, reached by the seven-woman, five-man jury, will cap a trial that 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 2-year-old Caylee.

The verdict is scheduled to be read at 2:15 p.m ET.

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.

Read what each charge means

Watch Nancy Grace Monday through Sunday starting at 8 p.m. ET on HLN. For the latest from Nancy Grace click here.

soundoff (7,331 Responses)
  1. Dave

    It was a fair trial. I watched a fair amount of the trial and have to say that the prosecution didn't build enough of a case. The defense was able to punch enough holes to provide reasonable doubt. Personally, I think she did it or she knows who did...but there are way too many questions in my mind. This ruling doesn't make her truly not guilty, it just means the state didn't do well enough to prove her guilt.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wow

    I thought the prosecution had this in the bag. I take it back. Baez doesn't suck. He is going to be rich, and so is Casey Anthony. Book deals, paid interviews, etc.

    Nancy Grace must be TICKED!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. deathpenaltyimmoral

    dont be mad at Casey, be mad at the State for not proving their case...

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • wow

      True story. The way the justice system is defined, she doesn't have to prove her innocence. The prosecuting party has to prove that she's guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

      According to to Jury, they failed to do just that, and had they convicted on faulty or incomplete evidence, it would have set a precedent that could be abused to convict innocent people (not saying she's innocent, just pointing out the dangers of weak convictions). Better that 10 guilty men walk than for 1 innocent man to be convicted.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      Or...if you have to be mad at something, be mad at Casey for murdering her daughter.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SuperKrivo

    Now she can smile and party down and leave her parents to foot the massive legal bill.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MyOpinionOnly

    I WISH people would stop comparing this case the OJ case....!!! Regardless of how you feel about that case, THIS case is a little girl who was murdered and had NO ONE, NO ONE to protect her because her own mother didn't. Not saying the OJ case was better but it is NOT the same when compared to this being a little girl. And people say this justice system works....? For who?? There are people in prison today who are 100% innocent that are either on death row or sentence to 10 + to life...if you don't believe me, go and look at the incredible "Innocent Project" that has helped many many people get their cases overturned because of DNA proved that they were NOT guilty. People who get caught selling marijuana get convicted and a longer sentence in FL (where this took place) just like other places. But for this mother to lay around with her lover after she found out her child was gone and do other things that I find more than strange behavior when a parent loses a child is beyond me. I pray for Kalyee that she is resting in peace and believe me, Casey will never live this down...she will be haunted for the rest of her life for not protecting her child and as I was always told...what happens in the dark will eventually come to life! RIP KAYLEE!!!!God's Angels will take care of you more than your mother ever did!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shawn

    I am truely amazed by this disgusting display of justice. So basically the kid killed herself, put duct tape on her own mouth, and then dumped her own body in a swampy area. I hope the defense team rots in hell. Especially that old dope who just boasted at how great a lawyer he is in a press conference. Ughhhh I am beside myself.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gar Bob

    Un-believable! She actually got away with MURDER
    How long will it take her to re-boot her party life now!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mia

    I saw this one coming. Unfortunately, there just wasnt enough evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. I would imagine this was probably terribly difficult for the jurors and I feel for them. They give you very detailed instruction when you are a juror...you cant make your decision based on emotion...only the facts. It will be interesting to see if the judge gives the harshest punishment available within the law for the charges she was convicted of. I just hope she isnt like OJ Simpson or Joran Van der Sloot and commit some other crime after going through this experience. I hope she takes this opportunity to be a better person than she was before.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      Yes, lots of doubt in my mind too. I mean, who among us hasn't had at least one decomposing human body in our car trunk at one time or another? It's only coincidental and bad timing that her daughter was murdered around the same time.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NO JUSTICE FOR CAYLEE

    This is unreal but the REAL COURT will await you when you are alone and tormented by what you have done! May you never be at peace within your own skin for taken a life of an angel. There is no justice for children! Believe it AMERICA this wont be the last case of this kind WAKE UP!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ivette

    She n

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kelly

    I hope someone gets justice when they let this B@*$# loose on the streets!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vicki

    My little girl is just one month younger than Caylee. As a mother, I can't go one hour without knowing where my baby is. Casey let down her little girl by the events that took place. However, the prosecution failed to prove their case. I would have had to vote the same as the jurors because the case just was not proven.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tricks

    Did the jury even think abou the fact that there's NO ONE ELSE tied to the murder of the child except her mother?!!! There's no justice there for little Caylee. I am absolutely disgusted

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul E

    Don't you guys worry, everyone with a common sense knows she is directly or indirectly involved in a child's murder. But with lack of evidence she got off for now. But she will do time for her lies to police. During her time in jail the Prosecution will seek a retrial with new evidence and a new jury. Even if that don't happen Casey Anthony will never be able to walk down the street again without possible street judgement.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      good point – agree..

      July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. connie major

    Sweet Jesus when will there be help for the innocent children? Jurors, jurors, jurors I know it's a tough job but an innocent mother would never never have acted the way Casey did if she were truly innocent. All things would have been set aside and every breath and moment would have been focused on her daughter. Our system has failed sweet Caylee.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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