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. Jennifer

    I fear that Casey will seek to profit off the murder of her daughter by writing a book. I think that those in the public who still want justice for Caylee, should join together to boycott the sale and purchase of any books written by the Anthony family. For those who advocate victims rights and feel that although the system failed today we may be able to try and prevent Casey from further desecrating the memory of her daughter. By protesting the sale of any books by the Anthony family, way we can still honor Caylee. We as a public should not condone or support the gruesome death of a child.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Carmen

    Baez (??? spelling -- what ever) will retire now and write a book!!!!!!! FREAK SHOW!!!!!!!!! Live with THAT!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. coni

    I think the talking heads on CNN will insight violence with their inflaming comments about the Casey Anthony verdict. Please control yourselves! If there is reasonable doubt, you can not convict. The prosecution did not prove their case against Casey Anthony beyond a reasonable doubt.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Neena

    So Tot mom managed to fool the Jurors with her lies too! Wow! The Jurors drank her coolaid (molestation by father) too! Well now the real Zaneida Gonzales can get millions of dollars from tot mom for her law suite. Tot mom will be quite rich with book deals, movies, etc. Well, she will be ultimately a paraya in the country.At least OJ had his fans. Tot mom has Jose and Chenney!!! They are going to help her rebuild her life. She will meet the devil in the end! She has destroyed lives of her own family.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LaMaestra

    If she is as wicked as everyone thinks she is, Casey Anthony will be in trouble with the law again before too long. I certainly hope her parents don't take her in. She's going to be incorrigible now that her lies have helped her get away with murder.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Covington

    Come on guys, as much as I would love to say so, this case was not about race. In fact, it is about nothing else other than a little girl who has no voice in our legal system. I am absolutely devastated at our attempt of a legal system. One term that desperately needs to be defined is EVIDENCE. We live in a high tech, fast pace world and if you don't have an act caught on cam, then the act doesn't exist. Whats more depressing for me is the fact that I just finished my Bachelors degree in Biology. I was in the process of completing my Law School Admissions Application, but after today's events, I am rescinding my application. I cannot in good conscience affirm to represent a system of laws I no longer have faith in. Guess I'll run to medicine then. Perhaps, I can make more of an impact there.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Lynch mob headed south now!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Parent & Life

    Those jurors will forever curse the prosecution for not bringing a better case. I'm sure of it. I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't adversely affect the jurors for the rest of their lives. I bet they all wanted to fry Casey, but couldn't get themselves to do it due to lack of hard evidence.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Parent & Life

      For all the people saying "judgement day in front of God" or things like that with regards to Casey, just stop!!! God accepts all people (unfortunately) and forgives them of their sins. Casey has no conscience, life is all a game to her. Her judgement was supposed to be in court, but the prosecution screwed it up!!!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Katherine Christophe

    This verdict is outrageous and beyond belief. What country do we live in? IT clearly the land of the free!!The evidence in the trunk, coupled with all other evidence, was enough for any child with common sense to make a conviction. There is no justice, this jury will be the most hated jury in the history of the US aside from those who served on OJ's trial, and Casey will be the most hated defendent in history, next to OJ. How will this verdict affect the upcoming presidential election given this is an extremely liberal verdict? Why would anyone believe there was not enough evidence , and Casey deseves a 2nd chance while she knowly lied when her daugher's body was rotting in the woods?

    July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Disgusted

    It sickens me to see what just happened in this case. There was no justice for Caylee that's for sure!!! Casey was the last person to be with her child ... After all the evidence there is no doubt in my mind she is guilty!!! There were a couple of jurors who said they couldn't judge anyone...so why were they on the jury?...There will be a judgment day for Casey Anthony and she won't be able to lie out of it....God will judge her now!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Katherine Christophe

    This verdict is outrageous and beyond belief. What country do we live in? IT clearly the land of the free!!The evidence in the trunk, coupled with all other evidence, was enough for any child with common sense to make a conviction. There is no justice, this jury will be the most hated jury in the history of the US aside from those who served on OJ's trial, and Casey will be the most hated defendent in history, next to OJ. How will this verdict affect the upcoming presidential election given this is an extremely liberal verdict? Why would anyone believe there was not enough evidence , and Casey deseves a 2nd chance while she knowly lied when her daugher's body was rotting in the woods? Today, I'm embarassed to be an American.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anna

    Someone asked what all the obsession was? Well, if you heard of the case and weren't bothered by it just a little, then that is something to be said in and of itself. But to answer the question, I think it was how a mother could harm their child, accidental or otherwise, then behave the way she did days following. To me, she was somewhat of an anomaly, not mourning over her dead child and partying like it was 1999. It was like something you see on t.v., real but not real. I think the average person with a conscience would have been sent into a spiral of depression, sickened by their actions, begging for forgiveness, from the law but more so from their own self. She was found not guilty by mans laws but I feel quite confident the universe will return the energy she and her family has put forth and will punish themselves. That's enough for me because the worst I have to think about when I put my head down on the pillow is having to see those pesky people at work and then I go to sleep. THAT, sir, is what all the obsession is about.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Janet

    I thought I've seen it all with the OJ Simpson trial. OJ Simpson & Casey Anthony make Scott Peterson look inncocent & he is sitting on death row. I am truly shocked that she was not even found guilty of child neglect of ALL things – I don't think I'll ever watch a high profile case again. There was no justice for Caylee Marie Anthony today but I do believe in karma.... and you can't lie to God.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. otto

    can anyone explain the instructions provided by the judge to the jury – specifically the piece regarding the highest charge – could it be the jury misunderstood his instructions ....

    and although we as Americans believe we have the best justice system in the world, i.e., a jury of peers decides, our legal system does not always provide justice .....

    may caylee anthony rest in peace

    July 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thomas Simmons

    Not a single person here should be surprised, not a one of you. I myself am just as guilty as anyone of convicting Casey long before the trial started. I learned about the case right here with Nancy Grace. I do not always agree with her methods, but her focus is pure, JUSTICE!!!!! Unfortunately, the social age is also a decadent one. There are more people out there who know the thoughts going through Casey's head then you could imagine. Teenage moms, drug addict parents, people with multiple kids and can't afford another mouth to feed, unexpected multiple births, there are so many. However, almost all of them do the same thing, suck it up and do your duty to your family despite personal hardship. Being a recovering prescription drug addict, a father or beautiful twin girls, and a soldier, I know all about these things. What Casey did would sicken the hardest combat veteran, but she was found not guilty for one reason and one reason only. The crucification she received from the media LONG before she went to trial. We must admit, many of us had an image of her on Old Sparky long before Caylee's body was even found. Had their been a trial without the body, a guilty verdict would have been easier. The unadulterated poisoning of the juror pool sealed this case before it even started. I feel that those people who defended Casey will receive their judgment one day, but we all need to look at the roll we had in setting little Caylee's killer free. We all had a hand in this, and I tell you what, there is no amount of showers in the world that will make me feel clean!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • trish

      Thomas, really? If someone drowned would you tape up their body, put them in a plastic bag in the back of your car, and go party? I read a psychologist who said this is a possible behavior of a manic depressive person. Really? Can people completely lose all values like that? Is there an excuse for all behavior that results in the person being not at fault no matter what? Now is the message its OK to lie under oath, lie to any prosecutors, don't report anything to the police, throw your father under the bus for molesting you which seems to excuse any decisions or behavior. And above all else, cry when the jury is watching. Then they will know you are innocent. We are headed in the totally wrong direction. What a bad message to everyone.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • greek

      Sorry Thomas, being a mother myself I condemn her on actions alone. I could not go out partying, sleeping around, not reporting my child missing after 30 days or so making up a supposed 'nanny'... I have no dirt on my hands... can't say that about the jury or the defense team not to mention Casey herself... she will get hers in the end I do believe that. But remember the jury did not hear all the hype during the trial. You can remember the smile and laughter on the mothers face... She did get away with murder and may there be a crazy out there ready to settle a score.

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