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. sandi

    I am ashamed to be an American today. Something is wrong with our justice system, when a mother can kill her child, keep it a secret, dump her child in a swamp, lie to police, and be exonerated for everything, except lying. We can not be a great nation and allow this to happen. Did the jury need to see the child killed,by the mother, in front of them to convict her? Even the grandparents know she's guilty. I wonder, would any juror allow Casey to babysit their child? What's really crazy, she'll do it again. Poor child. God Bless You Caylee.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SOMEONE PLEASE SHUT NANCY GRACE UP!

    SHE IS A BLUBBERING IDIOT. THIS CASE WAS NEVER A DEATH CASE AND THE PROSECUTION WASTED MILLIOINS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS. NOW SHE'S BLAMING THE JURY. SHE SHOULD BE DISBARRED AND CNN SHOULD BE SUED FOR ITERFERING WITH JUSTICE.

    PERHAPS NANCY CAN TAKE CASEY'S JAIL CELL.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Moira Grant

    She may have been found not guilty but I'm wondering about a civil suit filed by the Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez whose life she nearly destroyed with her lies? Tot mom had no money (allegedly) to be sued for when she was awaiting trial, but if she (tot mom) is planning on making a living selling her story, wouldn't it be appropriate for Ms. Gonzalez to sue her for defamation and take every cent she's got? Just asking...

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steve

    Only in the USA can you literally get away with murder! and extortion! and incest!!!! and kill your own president.!!!! Democracy my ass!

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JRC

    THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION IS MOOT. Any judge in a trial will tell any jury that the defense does not have to prove the case. The defendant does not have to testify which was a crucial move in this case. He he put her on the stand, she would have lost.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kordax

    I think she needs to go back and have the tattoo changed to "The Rough Life" because her troubles have just begun. I would hate watching my back 24/7.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lindsay Augustin

    Come on now: 84 chloroform searches + neckbreaking searches on the computer search engine, getting "beautiful life" tatoo while ur little girl is missing, partying and lying about it for 31 days and after all not guilty and will walk away free...wow, what did the jury need: a videotape?

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • nrsmeg

      HEY EVERYONE WHO THINKS THEY KNOW EVERYTHING. YOU WERE NOT IN THAT COURTROOM. REMEMBER HOW EVERYONE THOUGHT THE RAMSEY'S WERE GUILTY OF KILLING THEIR DAUGHTER. GUESS WHAT, THEY FOUND WHO ACTUALLY DID IT!! I'M SURE YOU POSTED THE SAME TYPES OF COMMENTS ABOUT THAT CASE TOO. THE POOR MOM DIED OF CANCER BEFORE THEY EVER FOUND HER DAUGHTER'S KILLER, STOP DOING THE SAME THING TO CASEY!!

      July 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrisy

    im gettin charged with second degree felony burgulary for goin in an old abondoned house and takin 60 dollars in fire wood.this gives me hope in my situation if you can admitt you help hide a childs body and not get anything im good just need her lawyer LOL.It makes me sick she got off and can just hope that justice finds her.dont ever come to ottertail county mn or you got no hope of gettin off.it is just a shame a sick and twisted our legal system is.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Del Cunin

    I never thought there was enough evidence to convict Casey of 1st degree murder w/o reasonable doubt. I did however think that she would be charged with a lessor charge until the final prosecutor spoke and made the statement that Casey did not even provide basic care for her daughter, and that was provided by George & Cindy. At that point reasonable doubt as to who was responsible for Caylee's well being was placed into question by the prosecution and became detrimental to even a manslaughter/abuse conviction.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dre The Man of Peace

    I like the intensity but let's not play GOD people. Have we forgot an innocent life has been lost. I support coldgin and I shall wear a tee-shirt for the fallen... also available in Espanol.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dre

    Clearly this jury zoned out when Jeff Ashton started talking and didn't listen to well at all and based their dumb decision on emotion. So who did it...Casey or her boyfriend or "someone else"? BS completely Casey did and or her boyfriend! That's what you get when you hand it over to the jury though.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. monet

    thank god the media and public cannot convict people without due process. I am not expecting the media to retreat, their conduct is a danger to the public.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    Hey Ben, you STOLE your comment from the woman interviewed on CNN. Shame on YOUR!

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ron Akanowicz

    Casey Anthony = The OJ Simpson of 2011

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greg

    The reporter misreprented the feedback from the crowd– or at least the feedback she aired contradicted her summary. One guy said he was happy with the verdict and the other woman said she wants to know who killed Caylee. She summarized by saying the audience "strongly disagrees" with the verdict.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
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