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. CAYLEE

    WHY DID MY MOM GET AWAY WITH KILLING ME?

    July 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eileen Schultz

    The Justice system needs to be revamped. The Prosecution must have done a lousy job & the jury probably had no choice but to acquit her because of that (just like the OJ trial). But what about the smell in the trunk, the DNA on the hair, the fake nanny, not reporting her missing for a month, the dancing with not a care in the world, the computer searches, the duct tape? It hurts to see no justice for Caylee.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tom

    People, the JURY said not guilty. Now, the population is experencing the Nancy Grace/Stockholm Syndrome. Brain washed the last three years by the biased reporting, unethical reporting and straw grabbing reporting that has proclaimed Casey Anthonly guillty from day one. Right Wrong Indifferent, she was proclaimed innocent by OUR peers. Who do the Nancy Grace Syndrome affected people blame next, the court reporter for reading the verdict.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eileen Schultz

    Every time I see the video of Caylee dancing, I just cry. Anyone who hurts a child is just evil. I hope Casey is ostracized, including by her own family. I thought the defense theory was ridiculous and can't believe anyone would buy it. Caylee, RIP – your murderer will pay in the afterlife.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. karen

    No need to fire him, he resigned after this case.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • karen

      this was a reply to someone's comment about the state should fire ashton, for some reason it did not post there, but cnn reported ashton retired

      July 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. piper

    I am outraged at this verdict. What kind of message does this send? How many other mothers are going to murder their children when they have becomed disillusioned with motherhood, thinking they can get away with it just like Casey?

    July 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cjoptic

    Does anyone actually think she will live "the good life" now? She will forever and always be branded a baby killer. The murderer of her own child. If she was my daughter, I would never have anything to do with her ever again; let alone a boyfriend or husband. Who would ever trust a proven pathological liar? Only some con man who will take her money and hopefully duct tape her nose & mouth shut until she dies pathetically and tortuously.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lori

    BOMBSHELL! Casey will be hired as Baez' new NANNY! NOT

    July 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SP

    I'm saddened and surprised at how many people "know" Casey is guilty – I believe there were only a small number of people allowed in the courtroom where all the evidence was actually heard. The rest of us had to rely on supposed news broadcasters such as Nancy Grace who abuse their responsibility to provide the nation with the facts by clouding these facts with biased personal emotions in exchange for good ratings. Shame on CNN for calling this news! If the Devil is dancing tonight, it dances for Nancy!! Her ranting today made my stomach churn – is there no objective reporting out there for those of us who want the facts???? I pray that should justice fail her in this life, that it might prevail for her in the next...

    July 5, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Matt

    wow ... what is happening here .... the greatest country in the world is being taken for a ride by it's system???
    This is ridiculous ... THERE IS A KILLER THERE FOR SURE ... AND WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIND HIM/HER??? The system with all the top notch ability haven't been able to find the "KILLER".
    I don't care whether she is guilty or not ... but where is the "KILLER" So now the state wants us to believe that there is a killer on the loose in the state of Florida, who targets little girls and kills them and then leaves them in the truck of their mother's car for 31 days and then comes back picks the body and dumps it in the woods ... lol ... what a justice system ...
    As a father of 2 beautiful girls I'm now worried sick of this place. Me not being the little girl's (Calyee's) father ... I'm so upset and sad & angry that I want to find the "KILLER" so bad and you are telling me that her own mother (birth mother) don't want to do that ... all she worried about herself. If she was serious & genuine, instead of paying for lawyers in the last 3 yrs she would have spend some money and tried to find the "KILLER" (that's what any normal and genuine person would do) and of course isn't that her best defence ... but oh noo why would she do that (why would she want to waste money to find herself, lol) all she is worried about is NOT-GUILTY! NOT ABOUT WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER.
    It's sad, I don't want think like that, but it is the truth, we live in a country like this ... I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the court ... every day in the court room .... seen a lots of cases ... this is want he said "All I know is that somebody has got paid big time in this case. If it was anywhere else she would have been convicted" I was shocked to hear this that too from a person who knows in and out of court dealings .... wow and all this while I thought in this great country of ours we are safe haha ... think twice my dear friends all that is just a myth. No wonder in this country of ours we so many of innocent people behind bars and plenty of "KILLER (KILLER'S) ON THE LOOSE". I don't know about you all it scares me ... with "KILLER ON THE LOOSE"

    July 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Georgeanna

    Justice was served.Her mother was the one looking up about the chloriform on the internet ..NOT Casey.Her father buried his dead animals in black trash bags with duct tape! I believe her Father did it...and I believe his wife helped him cover it up & they both blamed Casey for it! CNN/HLN reporters have had her convicted since day 1.I do not know what trial they were watching but I don't think it was the same as i was watching!

    July 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PhilC

    @Karen
    Thanks.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      This is a very sad day for our justice system. The jury was not looking for "reasonable doubt" they were looking for no doubt. They simply got wrong, we may never know why they came to this discussion; but we do know they got it wrong.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crystal S

      Don't give a life just to take it away Casey! You may want to consider getting your tubes tied, cut and burnt! Your daughter will forever look down on you with disgust. And I hope karma comes into play.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      In America, you can kill your child and be set free if not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

      The more public the trial, the more likely the guilty go free. There is no "being" going to punish her in the "afterlife". The time for punishment has come and gone. The US courts have failed us.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      The burden of the jury's decision lies with them, I just want to know how you can openly admit in court that you allowed your child to drown. That you were an active participant in the coverup and people still think that you are innocent. In Central Florida parents go to jail on charges of child neglect or child endangerment for this very thing. These are parents who did take the time to call 911 and act in the best interest of their child. Just food for thought.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chris Astle

    You people at HLN aka CNN-2, need to "Man up" and learn to be good losers. Right now you are acting like poor losers. You have never reported fairly on this case. Jane Mitchell and Vinnie Politan fell in lock step with Drama Queen Nancy Grace. Your outrage at the verdict not going your way, is not becoming. Now, eat your crow and GO HOME...or better yet, RETIRE. Enuf already!

    July 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Totally agree with you, Even the News Correspondants have been brain washed and are effected by the Nancy Grace/Stockholm syndrome. For three years Nancy has harped "TOT MOM Guilty", and now even her correspondant peers believe it.

      July 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carrie

      Which part of people do not try to cover up an accident with murder is confusing? She did it and even though she was found not guilty-she will never be "free".

      July 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • SP

      Sadly Carrie you are right about one thing – someone ruled innocent by a jury will have her freedom challenged for the rest of her life by those who "know" she is guilty. I will not pretend that I know the truth – your ridicule of this jury's daunting struggle to come to a just decision is a shame.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paula

    I just think it was sad that she didnt show more feeling then what she showed, its all crazy how the system works anyways.... so sad. i was always told it will come out in the wash i guess we will just have to wait and see right thing happen for a reason i was told....

    July 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David

    And another highly publicized trial finishes. The jury accomplished their edict at the Court's direction – and did darned good. In our society, the State has the ultimate responsiblity to prove the guilt – and they failed. That the media pundits (read Greta et al) chimed in with their "legal opinion" is nice viewing – but should be severely limited. Is there any wonder why Courts preclude live feeds? Yet – in this case, the live feed was instrumental to understand how our Courts actually work. We have hundreds of murder trials being conducted each day – and this was a victory for our system of justice. If the State had their act together, things might be different. However, conjecture (i.e., bizzare insanity) does not – and should not – be a factor for conviction, nor should the "jury of public opinion" be those that make a decision. Nancy Grace & Greta Van Sustern are among the pundits that make the big splash – these are the ones that should be rightfully sequestered until the trial finishes...

    July 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
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