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. IN SHOCK!!

    What is this world coming to?? Poor child! One day that monster will meet her maker and I pray that when that day comes, that "thing" burns in hell for what she did to her daughter!!

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

    Book and movie deals to follow. She will be a millionaire within years. This is what are society has come to.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Claire S

    I'm a lawyer and am not surprised in the least by this verdict. Remember my friends that "not guilty" does not mean "innocent", it means that the state has not proven the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. While there was evidence suggesting that Casey was guilty, that evidence did not, to my mind, meet the state's burden of proof. As I was watching Nancy Grace's over-hyped, shrill, hysterical coverage of this case, and listening to the drone of supposed experts agreeing with each other that that "Tot Mom Casey" would be found guilty–the only question in their minds was whether or not the death penalty would be imposed!–I wondered if I was watching the same trial, as it seemed quite clear to me that there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict her.

    And to those of you who think this is an injustice, remember WHY we have this legal system–so that innocent people won't get convicted and tossed in jail or even executed by the state for crimes they did not commit. We decided as a nation a long time ago that it is better that a guilty person go free than an innocent one be jailed. You cannot say we have the best legal system in the world and then complain when it works exactly as it should.

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

    The new American dream getting away with murder in America.

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

    How can it not be a crime to not report your 3 year-old child missing for 30 days?

    July 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. patriot1942

    Folks remain calm, just remember even though we feel justice has not been served it eventually will be! Whoever had anything to do with taking the life of this child will be punished, maybe not here but, when they meet their maker they will, as we all will, answer for our missgivings........

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

    From all that was heard by the Jury–they abided by the rules of guilty or not guilty–I know that must have been hard on them. Caylee is now in the hands of GOD and at peace. Judgement day was not today. Karma will take its place for now–RIP Caylee–I only know what I have seen on TV –I chose GUILTY–the Jury did not.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JC

    I didn't know the OJ jury was deciding this case.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TheBossSaid

    What a bunch of wimps posting. She was found not guilty because there was overwhelming lack of evidence that she was. You don't sentence people on what you feel. You sentence them on solid evidence. Caylee in all likelihood died of an accident, like overdosing on her mother's illegal drugs, thinking they were candy. That would explain a lot of Casey's behavior.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sharon

    If this is justice, our system leaves much to be desired. To even think this woman can walk the streets again, or have another child in the future, God forbid, makes me shudder. How her attorney can sleep at night after defending this her is beyond me. When your child is missing, you don't party, have a good time, and not bother to look for her or report her missing– unless, of course, you already know she's dead. This is just another O.J. case where a killer walks free. To the jury: Shame on you. You fell for her act.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lynne

    The Verdict is totally bullcrap!! She is guilty of something happening to that child. Who is fighting for justice for Caylee????

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jean

    Definitely unbelievable!!!!!! Also quite sad. I take comfort in knowing that "what comes around goes around". Ten to one– Casey gets her "come uppance" some way some how. I'd recommend she leave Florida as there may be a "bounty" on her head. I can only hope that she doesn't get pregnant again and start her cycle of deceit all over again. I truly feel sorry for her parents and brother, as well as poor little Caylee– who never got the justice she deserved. We all know that Casey did it and she's just a very lucky young woman who got away with "an accident that snowballed out of control"!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    Bill is right...."Not Guilty" does NOT mean "didn't do it." However, if you prove SQUAT, you get Not Guilty. 'nuff said.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Adonys

    The United States is full of crap, there is no doubt that hse killed her daughter. If your daughter is lost and cant be found would you go party and get a tattoe that says "the good life". WOW B.S

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

    so, if Casey didnt do it, can i just ask who did? this child was murdered, and no one seems to care.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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