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. Freedom isn't Free

    Casey Anthony may soon be free legally, but she will be in her own jail for the rest of her life. She has pulled everyone and everything that meant anything to her through the mud. She has ruined and destroyed her family and what's more important than family??? She has to live with that fact that she knows what happen to her daughter and that maybe not today but one day she will be held accountable!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buddy R

      She's going to sell her story and live like a queen.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Parent & Life

      This only works for people who have a conscience. She doesn't give a crap! Her family was all screwed up already!

      July 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Buddy R

    Well, it is back to the party life for TotMom. Will she murder her next tot too or just get an abortion instead?

    July 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • End Game

      It's sad that only one of those options would get her into trouble.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Arora

    So sad that the prosecutor could not make a good enough case against the mom to have the jury find her guilty. Many are comparing it to the OJ case in that we know her mom murdered this poor defenseless little girl but the prosecution did not prove it to the juries satisfaction. Sad, sad, sad that a mother could murder her own little girl and have no remorse. Sad sad sad. God help her and hope that she does not bear any more children. She is not fit an should not be allowed to bear children. God bless poor sweet caylee.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Casey's Gang

    Maybe Casey will form a gang like the old "manson Family", now that she's aquitted> I want to join if she does. And I'm betting Nancy Grace will go "undercover" , and also join if she does..

    July 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tori Bender

    Some of the comments truly amaze me; from the comparisons to OJ, the "racial issue" comments, and the purely negative and ignorant. The fact of the matter is, like Casey Anthony and her defense team or not, the system actually worked the way is was supposed to. Remember, the instructions were: "beyond ALL reasonable doubt." If you allowed the so-called "talking heads" to persuade your feelings about the trial, then obviously, you did not watch the trial but let others interpret it for you thereby swallowing hook, line and sinker THEIR views and not your own. I actually watched the trial. If Casey Anthony would not have been found guilty, she certainly would have won this case on appeal as there were many obvious violations of her rights. Furthermore, Ashton's facial expressions from the moment of opening statements, throughout the trial, and during closing statements, made him and his team look like a bunch of jackals. As for the jury not wanting to comment, that IS their right. With the media frenzy around this case, I do not blame them.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. shakti1111

    Just like the OJ case, a guilty killer goes free... Any mother whose daughter went missing would become hysterical and wouldn't sleep til she found her. Remember this was a woman who partied while Caylee was dead somewhere and did not go to police to report her missing – exactly because her daughter was dead somewhere, Casey Anthony knew it, was involved, and hoped not to implicate herself. What a travesty of justice. Poor Caylee... I hope Ms. Anthony is tried again and pays for this crime.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Just like in the OJ case, the police botched the investigation after Roy Kronk reported the remains in August, and (almost certainly) a killer went free. Sad, but the evidence was not there. This should have been plea-bargained down to a lesser charge.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sb

    I think the forecast that end of world is near is true. The day is near as there is no place where JUSTICE is not served.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zan

    I believe that common sense was suspended in the jury room. She admitted she was there so you either believe that her father was responsible or she was responsible, it's as simple as that. I'm not sure how they arrived at the fact that she was not guilty, but it is troubling.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Julie

    OMG – EPIC FAIL!!
    Where do these jurors come from??

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • caseyishot

      You are epic fail and epic loser for not knowing were these jurors come from. Orlando DUH!

      July 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bigbangtheory

    Worst prosecution in the history of law. They were god awful. Did you hear their closing argument?? It was too profound and they used too many "big" words for a jury full of rednecks. They needed to dumb it down ten fold. A solid prosecutor would have torn that defense to bits....unreal.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Todd

    "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." (William Shakespeare, Henry The Sixth, Part II, Act IV, scene ii)

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Canadian

    OMG! I'm shocked and disgusted by this verdict. The finger-flippin' guy got more jail time that Casey!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Laura

    An aquital does not mean she didn't do the crime. Whether by accident or with intent, she ended her child's life and won't be held accountable by our legal system. I wonder if she plans on more children in her beautiful life.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    Great day for the US judicial system. People are not found guilty just because they want a crime solved.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Newyorker

    It is really unbelievable to see so many armchair judges, jurors and executioners on the post. Really, do you think everyone is a moron except you? Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the governing philosophy. How wonderfully medieval..

    July 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
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