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. Joe Public

    To add insult to the "not guilty" verdict, the taxpayers of Florida paid for her high powered defense. Casey has perfected the art of the "free ride"

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wendy

    Justice has not been served for little Caylee. God will give Casey her punishment one day.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Outraged

    No justice for that poor little girl. What is this saying to all the other horrible mothers out there?? Saddened that she is getting away with murder.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charles

    This case was so full of holes, I am amazed they moved forward to a trial. The only hope the prosecution had was to make her look guilty to the public, and they did a good job.

    Now get out there and find the real killer.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Donna

    No justice for Caylee. Says a lot about our justice system

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fran Miller

    Anyone wanting to murder their children.. head on down to FLORIDA... it's legal there!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. enfadada

    pinche vieja maldita culpable... ojala se pudra en el infierno !!!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dee456

    No one but Casey and her parents and GOD will actually know what really happened to her child! As far as racism, it will always exist cause it is being taught in the home! I am not nor will I ever agree to being an African because I was born in America, and I am a Black American just like a White is a White American or Caucasian. I am not from Africa nor will I ever be from Africa and that is just a fact! Only your ancestors are to blame for why we are even born in America. They were the ones that sold our ancestors to the white man when he came to Africa looking for a trade! Enough said.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. me

    Thank goodness. Now can someone take Nancy Grace off of the air? Nancy Grace used this case to stay on the airwaves. It has essentially defined her journalistic career. Now that the defense has been vindicated, can CNN Headlines return to serving up news? I am not too sure.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. violet

    Trusting that she will live with the truth of what she did... adding prayers for the remaining Anthony family... who will now be faced with having their daughter return to live with them... knowing the truth... they are intelligent people, they know the truth... sad beyond words...

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. california lady

    Then WHO killed her? The mother now need to search for the killer..

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. soflaredhead

    While I think it was a stretch to charge for first degree murder, the fact that the jury seems to think that little Caylee put the duct tape over her mouth, wrapped herself in her own blanket, put herself in the laundry bag and then into the Disney bag defies logic. Even with the evidence they had, the jury in the Scott Peterson case used their COMMON SENSE and realized that they only way Lacey got where she was found was by someone putting her there. This "mother" took the greatest gift and threw her away as if she was garbage. To think, that a team of lawyers feels it is okay to sully the reputation of an entire family and then smile and laugh after getting her off sends the message that this is okay. While I agree with some of what the judge said afterwards,the reality is that after Thursday, she could walk out of jail free and clear. And what's next for her? Book deals, TV shows, etc. So why we lose the angel, the devil will prosper. My thoughts stay with Caylee and her grandparents. I leave the fate of this "mother" to Karma.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stuart

    This is a miscarriage of justice. SHAME on the jurors!!!!!!! They are certainly NOT a jury of my peers. Hard evidence is not an absolute requiremtn to prove guilt,I believe they were tired of 30+ days sequestration and needed to go home so took the easy way out since there must have been a few who insisted on not guilty. What a travesty and injustice!! What this b... Casey go on every talk show and make tons of money ona book and interviews while her family has been destroyed and her little girl brutally murdered. Poll most people (a jury of peers) and you will find that she IS guilty beyond any reasonble doubt even if no hard evidence was found. I do not trust our legal system if in only 10 hours they can arrive at this conclusion. Again, this was a lazy, tired jury who wanted to go home.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      You can't blame this on the jury because they had little to nothing to work with. There was no evidence, no murder weapon, no DNA and this is why trying a case without those things is frowned upon. Now, whether we like it or not, she walks free because of an overambitious prosecution

      July 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. V.Larimer

    I actually feel sick to my stomach right now. A child has been murdered! If it were an accident why was she buried with duct tape across her face and not reported missing for 30 days??? What mother goes out partying when their child is missing. She has shown no remorse for her own daughter. I really don't get this. I can't understand how the jurors came up with this verdict. This leaves my heart very heavy. But God knows the truth.....and He will be the true judge. It's in his hands now.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      If you want to feel sick, then throw up on the prosecuter. He failed to prove his case. As for Gods judgement. Shut up! You don't speak for God, nor do you know him.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. C

    This is the craziest verdict ever! Im sure Casey will be hosting party's somwhere, when she leaves the courtroom. God Rest Caylee's soul. She has touched a lot of people's hearts.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
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