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. jackie

    I've been on several jury trials. It is not an easy task to consider guilt or innocence of someone else. However, Casey was the last person seen with Caylee, she lied for 31 days about her where Caylee was. Did that child just walk to the swamp and die? Someone killed that child and needs to be punished for it. There is supposed to be justice for a victim. I did not see justice served today.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Oh please

    I am tired of people taking some comfort in the myth that she will burn in hell. Is this a way for you to wash your hands of this, and feel okay about it? Please! This woman will write a book, have a movie made about her, and probably end up rich. Those that watch and read that garbage will only be adding to the injustice. Wake up people, get over your obsession and let this family self destruct without the help of financial security from our extreme need for more information about this tragedy.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Amapola

    DJ you are right! There was never ever evidence presented that Casey had killed her daughter. Her mother did not believe it. And maybe she was even afraid of going against her own husband a croocked policeman who it seems abused her daughter and raised a son who followed the father's foot steps. Policemen cover up each other and that is the law of the land. They have always done it, nothing new there. The stuped press and media should stop this witch hunt! It is disgusting what they are doing they should stop now and stop this of HOW CHOCKED THEY ARE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ! SHE HAS SERVED MORE THAN HER TIME!!! And I'll cheer with the defense team!!!!! do the same and live with it.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. granny

    I am totally stunned at the NOT GUILTY verdict!!!! All I can say is our justice system is not about justice, it is about WINNING! Doesn't matter that you destroy innocent people with unsubstantiated claims, I'm talking about George Anthony "conspiring with Casey to conceal an "accidental drowning" of his beloved granddaughter and then putting that same beloved granddaughter in plastic bags, with duct tape over her mouth, or claiming that George Anthony or Lee Anthony molested Casey. And why would an innocent citizen who happens upon a body or any other crime want to come forward and report it? Why would you want to risk being targeted as the potential perpetrator of the crime or of having had some hand in it as the defense claimed against the meter reader who found Caylee's skull???
    How can a defense get away with making outrageous, unsubstantiated claims and ruining the lives of innocent people in an effort to WIN their case defending a GUILTY person? I think the defense attorneys who made those claims should be sued!!!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maddie

    I believe that the juror's wanted to go HOME..... They had enough and did not want to stay any longer..... As what has been stated before, you DO NOT let your child go missing, for no matter how long, without reporting it to the police!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jade

    Trust me...she didn't get away with anything. As far as this system is concerned, there will always be injustices. EVERYDAY children in the inner city are murdered and I have yet to see this kind of attention to detail for them.

    Whether Casey Anthony killed her "off spring" or not, what this case proved is if you have enough publicity, money or are of the Caucasian perspective, the scales of the justice system are injuriously unbalanced. The jury saw a young, attractive, white girl and decided long before the evidence was given that she deserved a second chance.

    Although I’m still not sure how her own jail-house tapes praising her family, the smell of human decomposition in the trunk of her car, her complete lack of concern for her child for 31 days and add 4 more to that when she called home from jail asking ONLY for her boyfriend’s phone number, and countless lies told that now the truth seems like it never even exist can equate to a NOT Guilty verdict??? Her actions alone prove some level of guilt even if it didn’t warrant the death penalty. This case was proven beyond common sense...which has nothing to do with a reasonable doubt.

    I think we should all stop and pray for Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez who can’t even get a job now because this NUT has smeared her name forever, all of the people she used and dragged into this mess and her parents for having raised such a morally corrupt human being.

    None of us will ever know if she murdered her daughter or not. But one’s actions most often are the barrier of the truth.

    Getting away with murder is one thing, sleeping at night is yet another.

    RIP Caylee...

    July 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • K

      Why, why, why... Does the "race card" always come into play here? Jade: attractive white girl? Really?

      OJ getting off the hook, Casey getting off the hook – people it is not related to skin color, it is related to the *pure skill* of these high profile defense attorneys.

      A skilled attorney is very proficient in manipulation and influence. It's just the unfortunate fact, people.

      Oh and I do somewhat agree with the comment that the jurors were just wanting to go home... They were probably exhausted. People are people... Like all of us, they have families, and many employers don't pay more than 3 weeks of "jury pay", especially in this economy.

      Sad fact...

      July 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gn

    they never proved she physicaly killed her,REASONABLE DOUBT!!!!!!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amapola

      That is exactly correct! :}

      July 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amapola

    Why is the press so upset ? Just because they can't go and celebrate and drink and eat for free.? That is what media does better than reporting the news!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gregson831

    this proves right here that the justice system has failed and I would be ashamed to have been apart of that jury. Because this is telling our children today that it is ok to get away with murder even if it is your own child, flesh, and blood. No wonder America is going to shambles. Only got can judge her but we as the peoples can voice our opinions. She wil have to answer to the m aster one day and then he will decide her fate. I am just blown away by this I am sick to miy stomach. All the lies, all the people that have ruined careers and lives, and the injustice that has gone on today. I pray to god that he give us as the people for this.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carmenza

    OMG !!! I am so sad there was no justice! I did not want the death penalty for her but justice for Cayle. I don't know a mother who does't know where is her daughter for 31 days and go dancing as if nothing happened and lie and lie a thousand times! !!

    July 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. forensic mom

    Her evil @$& can wrought in hell. I don't know how Baez and the rest of the defense can sleep at night. No conscience I guess. You couldn't pay me enough money to defend her.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deb

      Amen. . Forensic mom. .i agree. .I hope her defense . .gets the same as she gets. .down the road. . The jury and the defense are travesties. .how sad.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Deb

    This jury should be ashamed of themselves. . .this is not justice for Caylee. . .i suppose she chloroformed herself. .put three strips of duct tape on her mouth and nose.. .and put herself in a trunk in 90 degree weather.. not to mention she was missing according to her unfit mother for over a month. .what were these jurors thinking. .VACATION. . thats what they were thinking. They let this evil women free. .all i can say is. .keep an eye out for your little ones. .she'll be walking amoungst you. .

    July 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • srwrites

      How would it be justice for Caylee if her mother was wrongly convicted and put to death? Obviously, Caylee didn't kill herself, but the state failed to prove up a murder, let alone who might have committed it. god help us if we start putting people to death on such flimsy evidence.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      I think the jurors know Casey is guilty just like most of us do. The proof was just not there for them to bring the verdict.Im sure most if not all of them just wish there had been a little more proof and they could have handed down the verdict that they wanted to. Guilty verdicts at this point would have just been reversed on appeal.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheekbrown

      The media succeeded in making America hate Casey Anthony. Most of the people who claim to want justice for Caylee really want vengeance. They hate Casey and they have no bad feelings about her being put to death, even if she did not kill Caylee. I applaud the jury, who divorced themselves from an emotional reaction. Looking strictly at the evidence, there simply was no way Casey should be convicted of murder.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew Cohen

      You people with your emotional judgement, refusing to look at all the evidence that goes contrary to the theory Casey killed Caylee: she had no real motive (to "party" and go to clubs?); no actual chloroform soaked towels, no actual time of death, as well as all the video the two of them having a loving relationship. You people are just bloodthirsty, and now you won't even accept the verdict, unless that was the verdict YOU predicted. Well, guess what. SHE IS FREE NOW! HA HA HA HA! Free to go get more tattoos about the sweet life she will live, now that she will also never have to work again. I say, good for her. You people and your obsession with little kids; hey, she probably didn't even realize what happened to her, so her death was most likely painless. good for her. I'm just sitting here laughing at Nancy Grace and all the idiot "correspondents" as they are shown to be the clown they really are. I love this, this is awesome: Casey goes free! Whoo hooo! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

      July 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Char

      Not guilty doesn't mean she's innocent, it means that the jury they selected didn't feel they had enough evidence to convict her. I am sure the jury wanted more, more DNA or a smoking gun.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DivaB

    I am part of the unpopular group in that I agree with the verdict. The sad part is that no one will know what happened to Caylee except Casey and George. Justice has not been served for Caylee in that the truth has not been revealed and probably never will be.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheekbrown

      I am disgusted by attorneys like Nancy Grace, Mark Eiglarsh, and Judge Alex who will gladly spew venem as long as a camera is pointed in their direction.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Harris

      The Jury lacked common sense. They all have an education of 5 year old. To think Casey is not guilty of her daughter's death is someone living in total denial. Casey's story changed so often...how could anyone believe her? The jury should hand in their USA citizenship. To spend 10 hours deliberating ...shows their only interest was to go home.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Char

      Why do people "bash" the commentators? Their job is to get people to communicate. Whether you agree with them or not is not the point. They are trying to get people to talk about the topics and show some type of opinion. So many people are afraid to voice their own opinion.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Prashant Ponde

    I am disappointed with the jury's decision. Anthony could get away with bunch of lies and deception.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. flabberghasted

    I feel the same pain I did after OJ was found not guilty... no doubt for me who killed that little girl

    July 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
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