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. Robear

    WOW! The woman is guilty as sin, and she'll soon be free to walk...

    That's as bad as the O.J. trial.

    More than just Caylee's life was destroyed here. Even if her sentence for lying is limited to time already served (which it probably will), Casey's life is forfeited. Her parents' lives and marriage are utterly destroyed by what they had to go through. Same for her brother. With all the lies and false accusations smeared by the defense to exonerate Miss Antony, their ordeal will be a living hell.

    Time will not heal this one...

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sandy

    This is just one of many examples of how America's justice system does not work. She is obviously guilty of the murder, just because these people found her not guilty it DOES NOT make it true. SHE IS GUILTY and will always be... She will be back in the news for some other offenses in the future. Give her time... she will trip over self and her lies over and over again. As for the justice system it is flawed because we as humans are flawed ... they go by appearances because human justice is incapable of being blind.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kim

    Our "system" works fine. The state did NOT prove it's case. The jurours had no choice. However the prosecutors should hang their heads in shame.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • lizadiane

      Where do you live KIM? Our justice system is NOT FINE

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

    Whether she did it or not, she was not proven guilty; therefore, she is "innocent" and should go free. We have had too many innocent people convicted and put to death in this country.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. misha

    Here is the deal...kill someone, dump the body, get nice tattoo, go and party, keep lying to everyone, make sure no one finds the body for a year.....after that you can be sure you will walk free...And, yes, if you have any family member alive, please accuse them of molestation, because that's the reason you are lying...poor you....Cheers America! The greatest justice system in the world!!!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • lizadiane

      Well said!

      July 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashy

      Misha,

      Were you part of the prosecution team? Because what you said is exactly why they failed. Concentrate on all of those things as opposed to the actual crime and evidence. Good job!

      July 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carol

    Watching all the smiling reminds me of the scene in "The Devil's Advocate" when Keanu Reeves character gets the child molester aquitted.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Black Woman_Colorless Opinion

    I am so tired of these discussions –on blogs world wide- becoming about race. It’s annoying as hell. I was feverishly trying to read whether or not the masses were in the same state of disbelief as I am when I came across someone talking about “if she were black” which was followed by several racist and ignorant comments.

    Can we stick to the topic at hand please? Good grief.
    All black people aren’t a certain way, and neither is any other race. Go to the entertainment message board if you have nothing better to do but talk about the chip on your shoulder….that message is for all ignorant folks – black and white!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. killCasey

    anyone ever heard of mob justice. I think this calls for it. Watch your back Casey someone will take you out hopefully sooner than later. Our courts are a joke with enough money and the right lawyer you can get away with anything.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashy

      Just so you know... Your IP address can easily be traced, so you should watch making threats on someones life moron.

      July 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ann

    If the jury honestly had doubts about the MURDER I guess I get they could not agree on 1st degree ... but how can they not even see the abuse. who dumped the body, who put tape over her tiny mouth. missing over 30 days and not eveb a report from anyone of the Anthonys! What a shame the justice system did not work for that poor little 2 year old child with the bad luck of being part of that dysfunctional, abusive Anthony "family" Hopefully another child doesn't have that same fate. I do not get it!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GH

    Are you kidding me? We should be ashamed. Baez didn't even do a good job as a defense lawyer. Maybe he was so bad it confused the jury just enough they ended up 'cutting the cheese.' This is a low point in our society. The average IQ is now < 60.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. abby

    Most people don't understand that the evidence in the trial was almost nil- it would have been the all-too-familiar "just-blame-someone" routine had she been convicted. I'm guess sad that so many people allow the media to make their verdicts for them. How many of you were jurors? This case was a witch hunt.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • cregis

      Almost nil? 31 days was enough to convict on one of the death charges. This jury was crazy.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. eq

    now put the father on trial. he is hiding something. what innocent person tries to commit suicide when the police uncover a death.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • lizadiane

      ummmm help you.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Millie

    The jury had NO EVIDENCE. The women and men on the jury were not persuaded by what was going on outside of the courtroom and only went on what was presented to the court- good for them.
    So sad to see there is still no justice for poor little Caylee though.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JLLMA

    "The defense is asking you to suspend your common sense..." I guess the jury had no problem with that!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. OMG

    The world really has gone to hell. Hope she's gunned down in the parking lot..

    July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
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