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. Mike

    I am upset but not surprised by the verdict. I have no doubt whatsoever that this mother is responsible for the death of her daughter or knows who is. You have to completely separate yourself from any sense of reason to believe that she doesn't know more than she is saying. I'm sure the jurors who chose to speak with the media will say things like "I believe she was involved but the prosecution didn't prove it". There was a time when people inherently believed that the "state" was on the side of good. Unfortunately, now the pendulum has swung the other direction (with good reason) and people no longer believe the police are honest and just. They no longer trust in our court system to punish the evil and vindicate the innocent. I think we need to put people in charge who will bring integrity back to the government at all levels so they once again have the peoples trust. But that seems as far fetched as believing that Casey is "innocent"

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    Folks, let's remember that in the American judicial system "not guilty" IS NOT the same as "innocent". Not guilty simply means that the prosecution did not prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence and beyond any reasonable doubt. It also means that the defense raised enough reasonable doubt that the jury could not convict. In my heart I believe that she was responsible for her daughter's death. I watched most of the trial and, sadly, I have to agree with the jury. The prosecution team had zero direct evidence linking her to the death and the forensics evidence was laughable at best. Seriously, "air samples" from the trunk of her car stored in empty paint cans? I'm surprised they were bold enough to even go forward with the trial considering how thin their case was.

    The fact that they brought charges for "providing false information to the police" showed that they wanted a guilty verdict for at least something. Please! How many criminals who have been caught actually tell the police the whole truth? The district attorney stacked the charges hoping that if they threw enough at her something might actually stick.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob_2

    So Casey was right after all. She can BS her way out of anything. She was responsible for that child and gets to walk away knowing exactly what happened without having to stand up for failing in her role as a parent and care giver. We must all look like @holes to her. Her mother fail her in life and we failed her in death. This sickens me. Nice example for youth in this country as well. I tell my kids to tell the truth and you won't get in as much trouble. Why do I do that??? Our system failed Caylee today. We should all be ashamd. I can tell you that I am.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    Drew, the defense has 0 obligation to say who put the girl in the trunk and who put the duct tape on the girl's mouth. Perhaps, you should direct that to the prosecution because they obviously didn't have any proof either.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michelle

    Absolutely disgusting. It is totally evident that our judicial system is clearly broken. A precious little girl has been taken...the mother is out partying without a care in the world and now no-one pays for her murder. Just perfect.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philly R.

    Hell is hotter (and longer) than any sentence she could've received, that piece of trash will get what's coming to her one way or another. How dare she have the audacity to cry more than she EVER has during the entire duration of this trial. She is a piece of trash and that jury is a joke. The have let a CHILD KILLER walk free and they have to live with that. IF THEY BELIEVE SO STRONGLY IN THEIR JUDGEMENT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM SHOULD LET CASEY ANTHONY BABYSIT THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN.. I mean there's not reason not to.. she didn't do it, right? WRONG.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      Afterlife decisions aren't your call. Please don't speak for God.

      July 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • john b

      not enough proof to convict, deal with it

      July 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andre

      There is no hell. There is no heaven. There is no god.

      July 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • You're all suckers to believe in the system

      I suppose that would be comforting to anyone simple minded enough to believe in a heaven and hell.

      July 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wyte Boi

    This is not about race, but right or wrong, if she was not guilty, why did she lie so much about everything, and fail to report the so called abduction of Caylee by the nanny. I hope Casey has a long, sad, and miserable life.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    This is a great example of why the court of public opinion is much tougher than the actual court of law. We should let the jury who has the details decide guilt or innocence and not the 24-hour talking news commentators who's job it is to babble endlessly all day about a particular topic and fill up a news day week after week. Stop letting the 24 hour news talking heads brainwash you into making judgments about people and issues when you do not know all the facts sitting there from your Lazy Boy recliner. Turn off the talking heads and get back to watching the real news that reports the facts, not the opinions of people they hire to be on their networks.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Taylor

    I'm sorry but how can they allow Casey Anthony's verdict be Not Guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child. However, she was found Guilty to four counts of providing false information to a law-enforcement officer. I find it funny how the Osama Bin Laden was killed for the cause of 911 and other attempts and, for Casey Anthony she killed her daughter Caylee the only charge she was found Guilty on was four counts for false information to the police. This just proves that there was no COMMON SENSE whatsoever in the jury, and much less it was evident that she killed her daughter. The state proved through many testimonies, scientific information, and the Google searches about "Chloroform, and Neckbreaking." However, they weren't able to provide the actual evidence that she killed her.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sarah

    if they let the child murderer walk they should atleast sterilize her and not let her near anybody else's angel. She's killed once and the likelyhood that shell do it again is high.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • You're all suckers to believe in the system

      Uhhh what part of "not guilty" did you miss?

      July 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jacqui

    it's a sad day in the world when you can murder your child, dump them like they are a piece of trash and get away with it. But who are we to judge. She will have her day of judgement and I hope that Caylee is there right beside Him looking down at her and seeing the horror on her face when God is passing judement on her. If her parents allow her to ever step back in their home- they deserve to rot in hell right along with her.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kevin

    Mike Vick killed a Dog, Casey Anthony killed her daughter..... and Mike gets the jail time????? This world we live in..

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MadMardigain

    If you have a close decision to make Florida is probably not the place to go. They haven't had some major errors in the last decade or so.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    I am still in a state of shock. Maybe the prosecutor's office should have gone for some other charge instead of 1st degree murder but it is so unfair that Casey gets to walk. Even if the judge sentences her to four years she will probably get off with less time due to time served. My heart aches at the thought that Caylee gets no justice. No mother (no matter how one displays grief) goes that long without telling someone her child is missing and parties so much in the mean time. Shame on her and shame on the court system for not having a better ulternative to this type of crime...and it is a crime. Just pray she does not have any more children!

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nan

    So THAT'S how you commit a murder. Kill the baby....let her rot for months so no one can determine the cause of death. That way, all the DNA is destroyed while animals and nature eat you away and they can't connect any dots. Great strategy. We'll probably see this tactic tried again.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
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