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. David

    Someone commented that double-jeopardy only applies to someone that is convicted. That is not true. Double-jeopardy applies to anyone being tried for the same offense she was conviced or aquitted for. If it was a mistrial, it wouldn't apply. She was aquitted, so the only way she can be tried again is if the charges are different. She can be charges as an accomplice to the murder, but not for the murder itself.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Think about it

    Nancy Grace has been vilifying the proven innocent Casey Anthony for over 3 years. Grace has been inciting hate towards her, all for the sake of higher TV ratings. Seriously, Grace needs to be formally charged with criminal defamation for her character assassination of an innocent woman. Even though Anthony has been proven innocent she will live a very difficult life because the mainstream media has concluded that she is a "murderer".

    July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ace

    If you want to get away with murder just move to Florida. What is wrong with our system. If found guilty they can spend years appealing the verdict costing the tax payers more money. However if not guilty and more evidence is found they can't be charged due to the double jeopardy law. I hope the Anthony's home town black balls them.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. petunia

    The Florida jurors are idiots. That says it ALL

    July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WTH?

    I'm in SHOCK!!!!! I just don't understand what else the jurors need to at least convict her of manslaughter!!!! I've watched this case/story from the very beginning and it's heartbreaking to hear her get a NOT GUILTY verdict are you serious????. Scott Peterson had just as much or less evidence against him and everyone had enough sense to know he killed his wife. I believe Casey will not live a "beautiful life" she will always have this over her head.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wang lee

    nice to see u can still get away with murder...looks like open see on children now... 🙁

    July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. A. Jones

    I wonder if mom and dad will take civil action to prevent Casey making lots of $$$ from books, movies and interviews?
    Maybe Occam's Razor might have been helpful to the Jury?

    July 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john

    @parent and life: that statement didn't make a whole lot of sense, there are plenty of good caring parents who have lost children in accidents due to no fault of their own (for example George Strait who's daughter was killed by a drunk driver as she was walking home) but going by what you just wrote all of them should be charged with murder. Huh? This does go to prove that the people from the state of the hanging chad are indeed pretty stupid, I mean if you can't even punch an election ballot correctly what in the world made the rest of us ever think you'd get this correct?

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

      You don't dump your child's body in a swamp after an accident and make it look like murder – unless it was.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CW

    The real question is...who in the world would dump their child's body in a swamp if they died from an accident? They would report it to the police and hold a funeral. I'd like to see how many of you would actually "panic" and take those same actions. Probably not, if you truly loved your child. If she did, she would have called 911 to notify police and emergency services when they found her in the pool, and at least attempt to perform CPR. But wait, she went partying for a month like nothing life-changing had just happened? Unless of course, that wasn't the case and you were worried about something happening to YOU because of something YOU took part in. If she were truly innocent, she would not need to fear anyone else knowing. An innocent person would not immediately ponder how to conceal a family member's death. No idea what the jury was thinking; simply way too many coincidences that the defense didn't explain.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    Cayse Anthony will probably not be at peace and may not feel safe in the public again...most people know she is guilty

    July 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sarah

    Have you ever thought that the court had let her walk free so that she will feel ashamed? Think about it; the court knows she's guilty, and the public knows she's guilty. If they just killed her, then it'll be done and over with for her. Nothing'll come out of it for Casey. BUT! If they let her walk free, with the public wanting to claw her eyeballs out, she'll live in fear and hide, and she will never enjoy life again. It makes sense to me. Let her suffer, instead of being 'done and over with'.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert Croy

    Not enough evidence for first degree murder! This is the best Justice System in the world. Manslaughter would have probably gotten a guilty verdict. If you cannot prove it don't shoot for it.

    Robert

    July 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANTHONY

      You know she was charged with manslaughter too right?

      July 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      I think the prosecution didnt prove it beyond a resonable doubt. I watched the whole trial and I still do not know how she died. Was it the tape or the chloraform. They couldnt say because any evidence that could have been had was neglected by the officer who frist responded to Rory Kronk didnt do his job. Then Nancy Grace who thinks she is smarter than anyone was put in her place along with all the other pundits by Mason. Score one for him....

      July 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • TIFFANY

      I agree with you ROBERT on the manslaughter conviction. The state of Florida shouldn't have considered the Death Penality. They were asking too much for too little evidence!

      July 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lester

    There's a verdict of Not Guilty. Live with it. We don't care what the News Media thinks. All these "Journalist" giving their opinions are ridiculous. We don't care what you think, just report the news. This is the sickening part of this trial. All the News Media enjoyed their time getting their time on TV. It doesn't matter what the public feels. The Jurors were given the job of guilty or not. They said Not Guilty.
    CNN, HLN, go find some news to report. Your reporters should be "Fired." Sickening to hear you give your opinions. Opinions that don't mean anything, except to stir the emotions to get more time on the "Air."
    Enough is enough.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ch

    Bravo to Mason for his indictment of the media talking heads. It's about time that someone have the spine and integrity to speak out against the media assassination in this case, and so many others. It is not the media's job, or right, in this country to try,convict and execute ANYONE just because it boosts ratings. I doubt very seriously that CNN has the integrity to even publish this post, but let me just say that as an dedicated viewer for many years, I am deeply disappointed in CNN and HLN's coverage of this case. Your job as a so-called "news" network was to accurately report the facts, not add to the frenzy of mis-information and speculation and sensationalism of the case. There may be a time and place for that, but it does not belong in the "news" coverage of this, or any case. Just when I thought that you could never scrounge the streets of America and find anyone less professional at doing their job of journalistic investigation than your beloved Nancy Grace, you turn the coverage of this case over to the likes of Jane Velez-Mitchell ,Vinnie Politan and Dr.Drew. I guess you couldn't afford Perz Hilton. Perhaps the most disappointing of all was Judge Alex, someone I always thought held himself to a higher standard where "justice" was concerned. You took your opportunity to lead the media in journalistic excellence and chose instead to exhibit the worst case of biased coverage I have ever witnessed. Do not misunderstand me, I am not applauding the verdict. I have no idea whether Casey Anthony is guilty or not, but the State of Florida did not convince me beyond a reasonable doubt based on their evidence, and apparently they did not convince the jury either. But that is the State of Florida's job, and I have no reasonable doubt that it is NOT CNN's job to insult the intelligence of every viewer by "helping" us decide. Shame on you, CNN. You have broken Rule#1 of what you even exist for. Objectivity. You are what's wrong with this country today. Capital murder cases should not be decided by polls or tweets or public opinion. Nancy Grace professes "We Want Justice ! " every night, yet is she really concerned with justice at all, or just personal fame and fortune? You have lost a dedicated viewer who remembers a day when you could tune in to HLN with the (naive?) expectation that you could find an accurate, unbiased report of the facts. CNN has become a disgrace. Or should I say a Nancy dis-Grace? Shame on you.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geek

      ch-BRILLIANT. Thank you for saying what has needed saying for a very long time. Too bad the "moderators' wouldn't allow like commentary BEFORE the verdicts. Well done, well said.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fed up

      AGREED!
      Here's my earlier post on the same subject:
      Why are so many people so f-ing stupid?! Unless you watched every minute of testimony, AND were involved in the jury deliberation, AND not influenced by moronic media “opinion”, AND given those parameters do not believe there was a “reasonable doubt” (as required by law) as to guilt, then shut the hell up about your OPINION of guilt. Yea, I think she PROBABLY did it, but I don’t meet the above criteria, so my opinion on the subject of guilt is meaningless.
      How about discussing issues we can change, like some media’s negative influence on cases like this, specifically HLN & Nancy DisGrace (freak).
      HLN & CNN are becoming reality shows hell bent on sensationalism to jack up (& off) their ratings, & are rapidly losing all credibility as legitimate news media.

      July 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert Croy

    Nancy Grace,

    How many times have you celebrated after a guilty verdict? Don't chastise the defense for doing the same thing you have probably done after a winning verdict.

    Robert

    July 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • eastcoast

      Robert-
      Ive got a girl looking for a job as your new nanny...recently found "not guilty", super cute – good luck!

      July 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
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