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. Robin

    Why does everything turn into an argument of race? We'll never get past racism if people always bring up the matter of color. This is about a child being killed and if justice was served.

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

    Let's guess the next thing will be who will want the liar to write a tell all book that will make her a millionaire!!!!! Of course it will be full of lies just like her entire story about her daughter that she loooooved soooo much but killed oh thats right the smart jury found her not guilty!!!!!

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

    Our jury system is the laughing stock of the entire world. Demand change NOW!

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

      Suggest change. What system would you like? People are whinning all over the internet about teh jury system " or being a "laughing stock" and the juors being "stupid", "idiots", "morons"

      Well, let's be honest. The system is not perfect, but having to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is perfect. You must be able to prove that someone commited the crime they are accused of – evidence, eye witness, something than "well, it looks bad and she could have done it".

      With today's technology, DNA, advanced forencis, cameras in almost every public area, more and more people willing to sell out their friends and neighbors for a buck, getting a conviction when the evidence is present. When it's not, or when it's suspect or been altered, you can't convict.

      As far as the juors go, they gave up their time, put forth an honest effort and followed their given unstructions. That doesn't make them stupid. It makes them honest, decent American's who served on a jury no one wanted to serve and they did the hard job.

      So many people are blasting the jury system but so many more try to get out of serving.

      The fault lies not with the system, not with our laws but with our peeople. We all want something because we think it should be so and are not willing to be part of the checks and balances.

      Our system, as flawed as it may be, is only as good as those who participant in it. Our system is better than anything else.

      But if it's not, tell me what you would like to see our system changed to. I can't imagine you have anything close to logical that would be fair to all and have checks, blances and as high a success rate.

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

    Sweet now Dexter Morgan can strike, she is in Florida is she not?
    *sigh* if only it were true

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

    This should not become some racial bash.. This is about one woman getting away with the murder of a precious little girl who did nothing wrong other than being born. This issue of comparing it to the OJ trial is somewhat true in that the justice system of today is a JOKE, a travesty. We let killers roam the world free of prosecution but lock up the people that commit smaller crimes such as drunk driving. Granted drunk driving is something that should be prosecuted. Casey Anthony deserved to be strapped into an electric chair for killing her little girl. Why did she do it? Because the little girl interrupted her party life. People should have to go before a judge before being allowed to have children. I hate this travesty because a little girl, Caylee Anthony, received no justice and a mother with no remorse for this dastardly act is smiling and laughing today. For shame!!

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

    if anyone on this blog wants to commit murder hire jose baez , now the creep will come out and say lets go after the real murder

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

    Totally unbelievable!!! So its ok to off your child, lie like heck for over 6 months, watch 4000 people search for a missing child, dump your baby into a swamp? Just make sure that when you do all this, you keep that body from being found until there is nothing left but bones and then keep telling lies.

    Unbelievable.

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

    WOW.. i wasn't even expecting a death penalty for her but acquitted from most of her changes? It gets me very angry to think about what her daily life now would be like.. Partying.. Bar hopping.. Hot body contest.. just like the way she wanted in the first place... that gets me very angry... but karma is waiting for her.. no doubt.. but once again, WOW Florida! Court system needs to change and get rid of such thing as "JUDGE" and just put 12 Jurors behind a desk and let them decide everything from the verdict to sentencing!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WHY?

    How was she found not guilty? A jury that was totally incompetent! As the trail progressed, the jurors slowed on the note-taking and stopped taking them altogether in the last few days! Without accurate records of details, how then could they arrive at an accurate verdict? From the evidence presented, it was apparent that at the LEAST she should have been charged with the 3rd count, that of child aggression. She should have been found guilty on all 7 counts, not merely the last 4 which consisted of lying to police, which won't be a harsh sentence. Are we so blind as to let murderous people roam free? It is no wonder that America is failing as a country. Debt, corruption, trampling of justice; this country has already been destroyed in spirit, all that now remains is its physical destruction.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jasonn

    They don't call if FloriDUH for nothing. Now we'll never get to the bottom of the Caylee Anthony suicide.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Be Real

    Of course she is smiling, she got away with murder. Listen, if Casey weren’t this “girl next door looking type” white girl, she would have been found guilty. Everything is not racial, but lets be realistic, if she were white trash/black/or didn't 'look like your typical usa girl next door – whatever that means-she would have been found guilty and it wouldn’t have been such media hype. But not to worry, this case is not closed because in the end, she will get hers…Payback, you see what happened to OJ.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. anonymous

    WHAT THE!?!?! she is clearly guilty i do not understand why she is being let go someone like this will never regret it she's better off with a life sentence baby caylee was an innocent child and did not deserve to die congrats casey you murdered your child and got away with it i hope your happy

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    WHAT THE HELL?!?! So now we can go kill someone and get away with it? That makes me feel a lot better about our justice and court system. You give a person convicted on drug charges a 10 year sentence but let someone off on killing someone? Shows how well our justice system has developed over the years.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. THP0979

    None of us are judges and just because she was a bad parent does not make her a murderer; so the prosecution could not prove she killed the child, the child is most important in this case, we are all innocent until proven guilty we are looking at all the partying she did and that is just not enough to say she killed her child...

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • KBROWN5555

      So with your logic, if someone ends up missing, and there is no video showing someone KILLING them, there is no proof... maybe Casey will get hers in prison and hopefully no video will capture it!

      July 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Does this mean Casey is now going to search for the real killer?????

      July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grime Reaper

    No justice for Caylee! My her mother and grandmother rot in hell!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • uuhhh

      Why exactly are you condeming her grandmother? Since when was she accused of anything?

      July 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
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