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. JS

    Nancy Grace is a DISGRACE to the criminal justice system. As Casey Anthony has been judged by a jury of her peers and exonerated in a court of law, I wonder if Nancy PIGFACE will use her communicative medium to proclaim her innocence and restore her name with the same fervor with which she attacked and condemned her in the court of public opinion.

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

      I agree, Nancy Disgrace used this girl to try and boost her career. I for one am very proud of our jurrors who obviously used good judgement and didn't let the out of control media pursuade them. My prediction is something is going to happen to Casey, and the folks at HLN can claim responsibility. Nancy, and Jane and everyone thats crying like a bunch of little babie's should be unemployed. They continue to this hour to encite the public and it is wrong. I've always been a lver of CNN and HLN. Guess What? I will give it a week and if Nancy Grace still has her own show with HLN, I will no longer tune into to them or any of their affiliates. You sound like nothing but a bunch of vigilante's. Grow up nasty Nancy and resign. YOU SUCK!

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

    Vinnie Politan needs to cool down, you always have to be right this time you aren't so go live with it and get over it.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. denise

    Ok Casey got off. Question: Can't they try Casey for neglect, abuse, endangerment or anything else they can think of. After all dead or alive Caylee is still her child. And she is responsible for her well being. To dispose of her body and what happened to her remains is just plan endangerment. For that matter could they try the whole family?

    July 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Kirk

      Why Not Guilty?

      The 911 call says the car smells like a dead body, but the lead investigator testifies that he was treating the case as a missing child. Why would he not go check out the car immediately and if it did smell like death start investigating the case as a homicide. If the police are so sloppy about this, it calls in question the validity of any of their investigations.

      Police called in August telling them where the body was, but the police did not find it. If the police are so sloppy about this, it calls in question the validity of any of their investigations.

      Two different computer readouts. One showing 1 hit about chloroform. The other showing 84 hits.
      The so called computer expert did not stop and wonder WHY the 2 reports showed different results.
      That made it look like the state picked out the report they liked the most. If the police are so sloppy about this, it calls in question the validity of any of their investigations.

      Need I go on?

      The jurors were asked to make their judgment from the evidence, not their feelings.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Shame on You!

    For anouncing prior to the verdict that this woman was guilty! This is EXACTLY what is wrong with the media (CNN). They tried her and are continuing to try her in public. the jury has spoken and whether or not she killed the poor child, I hope she sues the bee-jeezuss out of YOU!

    July 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mother1982Lori

    child neglect is child abuse not looking after or caring for her child when she came up missing is child abuse not calling the police to get their help to save her daughter falls under neglect is child abuse i was abused as a child and i have two kids who was abussed and kidnapped when they were young and i did some thing right then and there to get justic for my two children i have 4 kids i raised i never once negleted any of their needs so yes i know all to well all the diferances of child abuse and if the state didnt think she commited child abuss why would they even have that as 1 of the counts

    July 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pat

    Good 4 the jury.
    No HARD evidence
    The prosecution had no case.
    HLN anchors NEED 2 b TRUTHful

    July 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. randall

    I was not on the jury! So I cannot judge this woman, from what I have saw. Let us all just pray for the woman and family!!
    Prayers, Love and Peace to All!!! Randall

    July 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. D.A.

    The jurors must have been sleeping. It is so clear that she had something to do with her daughters death!!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • KE

      She might have had "something" but what? There is no EVIDENCE that said she had anything to do with it.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pat

    Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell and others need tried Casey in the media

    July 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pat

    HLN anchors tried this case and PRE-JUDGED, especially Nancy Grace. SHAME on HLN.

    More importantly, the prosecution owes the taxpayers for bringing forth a non-case.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KE

    They could not have picked a better jury. EVERYONE outside of this case was biased by what the media (thank you CNN) had put into this case. The jury only went on the EVIDENCE (or lack of) that was presented to them, which is what a jury is supposed to do. Do I believe Casey did something wrong? Instinctively, yes. But, there is absolutely NOTHING to back that up. The only sad part here is that there is no justice for poor little Caylee.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jackie

    " You can get away with murder in America" is no longer a saying this mother got away with murder.... If she didn't do it who did???

    July 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gforce

      It is sad but true. Casey got away with MURDER! This is the way our society is headed. Nobody is responsible for what they do anymore. forget your up bringing. If your an adult........ your responsible. Why does our justice system not allow common sense? Vinnie said it: If you go to sleep and the ground is clear and you wake up with snow.... IT SNOWED! but not for our jury system!!!!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • SP

      So you're saying that she should've been found guilty by default – since your question, "If she didn't who else did?" cannot be answered??

      July 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • no_justice_for_kids

      Some children are really unfortunate and unwanted by their parents. Caylee is another infant that died and disposed of mysteriously and her mother/father didn't care. This is happening almost everywhere in the world since the beginning of time in advanced and poor countries. We, people, are all responsible for it, some for doing it and some for not stopping it.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Did Casey really get away with murder? Sure, a lot of us feel that in our gut, but the evidence didn't show that Caylee was even killed by anyone. Most likely the case will probably be closed as unsolved, unless they find new evidence. However, since Casey has been exonerated, she can never be tried again for killing her daughter. The way I look at it is... What if my feelings are wrong, and Caylee did die accidently? I guess it's possible that Casey could act like she killed her daughter and not actually do so. I'm afraid only Casey and God will ever know the truth.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank Airport

    Who cares? Seriously people, GET A LIFE. This is not newsworthy. Egypt is erupting again, THAT'S newsworthy. Greece is on the verge of a credit meltdown that could take Europe with it. THAT'S newsworthy. Vietnam and the Phillipines are engaging in an arms race over China's territorial grab in the South China Sea. THAT'S newsworthy. Need I go on? ENOUGH!!

    July 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gforce

      Frank AP: It is VERY news worthy..... It shows the direction we are headed. What if it was your daughter???? by the way, who cares about Egypt and Greece on this blog?

      July 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sad grandmother

      Frank Airport – Then why n the hell r u on this website about the Casey Anthony case? Go solve all of EUROPE's problems. Perhaps President Obama is free 2 go w/u tonight if he's not fundraising 4 his $75 million 2nd quarter campaign!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerry

    While watching the court proceedings, I continually asked myself if I heard any evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Ms. Anthony and put her to death. I must admit, if I were a juror, I heard nothing that would have made me convict Ms. Anthony of the most serious charges, but I would have convicted her of lying to the police because that was quite clear throughout the trial.

    What would have upset me the most if I were a juror, was Mr. Ashton laughing at the defenses closing statements. Apparently, Mr. Ashton, thinks that a capital murder trial is funny–hit the replay button and listen what the defense says following the verdict about capital punishment–I think they make a valid point.

    Our judicial system worked exactly the way it was intended to work–if anyone fails to understand that, then they need to live in another country. Allowing media attorneys to try/judge/convict someone before they have their day in court, does nothing but destroy peoples lives.

    I think the defense was right, this was nothing short of a circus and about winning. While Mr. Ashton is no longer laughing, Casey will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Rather than wasting our time being critical of Casey, I think it would be of greater benefit to keep Caylee in our daily prayers. Life is for a short period of time, death is an eternity, it is through death that we will ultimately be judged, and through that judgement is how we will spend eternity.

    Our media outlets should stick to reporting the news, and allow the decision makers to make their decisions. For me, tonight when my daughter asks me what happened today, I will tell her that I saw several American citizens save the life of a fellow American.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • roger elder

      I agree with you 100% Jerry. Three important points. The state never proved their case beyond any reasonable doubt....they never even came close. #2......The prosecution was blatantly dishonest throughout the trial....that was obvious to every jury member who did not check his brain at the door. Dishonest prosecution equals dishonest trial, period. #3 The antics of Jeff Ashton, and all the bullying and the disrespect to defense witnesses would turn anyone off. Jose Baez may not be the best attorney around.....but he did a damn good job on this one.....he cleaned their plates, and threw their BS out with the garbage!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gforce

      I agree to a point on counts 1 and 2 but count three was proven. Baez stated in opening that Casey says it was an accident. Then she covered it up... for 31 days. If that doesn't prove FELONY Child abuse and manslaughter, I don't know what does !!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Frank Airport

    None of this really matters to any of you. GET OVER IT.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
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