This tragic Orange County Florida case centered upon a baffling crime, the unreported disappearance and death of an adorable, defenseless two-year-old child. What differentiated the State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony from the vast majority of all other cases was the exagerrated, almost surreal degree to which it was exploited by the media. Every tidbit of this 'Media Circus' coverage was promptly devoured by the public.
The criminal trial—shadowed by an angry mob positioned outside the Orange County Courthouse—was held during the summer of 2011. Today, January 17, 2012, marks six months—to the day—from Casey Anthony's release from the Orange County Jail.
I could begin this article by plunging into the compelling issues: Guilt v. Innocence, or Justice v. Injustice. I will not do that. This article offers no sympathy for Casey Anthony, ....nor does it offer proposals to secure justice for Caylee. Most important, this article is NOT another pathetic, worthless assault on the jury, in response to their unpopular decision. The verdict has already been sufficiently vilified by the placard-carrying mob of zealots who—more than anything else—couldn't wait to arrive at home, pop some popcorn, and watch themselves on TV. The recurring theme, throughout this case investigation, throughout the trial, throughout the orgy of media coverage, was as follows: As questions were addressed, the degree of confusion was progressively amplified, and observers were seldom rewarded with anything resembling answers.
I think we can all agree that these few fundamental issues WERE settled:
- The mother of precious little Caylee was an incorrigible liar. The woman, in fact, was a liar and a deadbeat long before the child ever disappeared.
- We all agree that mothers are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their kids. It defied moral comprehension when this particular mom decided to go out partying—enjoying her friendships—with the full knowledge that her child was GONE.
- A 'theory' that the little girl had drowned was presented as part of the defense's opening argument.
- Although the burden of proof always rests with the prosecution (not the defense), there was more evidence raising doubts that a drowning ever occurred (testimony from George Anthony), versus what added up to essentially no effort to establish drowning as a factor at all.
With these fundamental facts established, the following fascinating revelations emerged during the course of the investigation and the 43-day trial:
- On August 11th, 12th, and 13th, 2008, tips came into local law enforcement-alerting them to the possible location of the child's body. FOUR MONTHS LATER, a thorough search of the same EXACT location led to the recovery of the profoundly decomposed remains.
- The protracted, unnecessary delay in the recovery of these VITAL materials is part of the reason why so little physical evidence could be presented by the prosecution during the trial. This included no conclusive DNA, no fingerprints, and no useful trace materials.
- Despite a remarkable degree of speculation, the cause of death was never established by any medical examination.
- Asphyxiation—involving the use of duct tape—was suggested by the prosecution. This was coupled with speculation regarding the use of chloroform as a murder weapon.
- There was no mechanism of establishing that the recovered duct tape was used to commit a premeditated homicide.
- The prosecution attempted to argue that the organic solvent, chloroform, was present in the trunk of the defendant's vehicle. This claim was contradicted by the prosecution's own witness—Dr. Michael Rickenbach—an FBI chemist. The profoundly low levels of chloroform could have been due to the presence of the emulsified organic compound typically found in a variety of common cleaning products.
- Curiously, the prosecution presented expert testimony that 84 computer searches for "chloroform" had been conducted on a computer to which the defendant had access. During closing arguments, the defense emphatically disputed the validity of these findings. The defense pointed out that the alleged 84 hits contradicted a separate report of only ONE hit. They also exposed a glaring flaw—that the report of 84 chloroform searches was not released until June 2nd, ....DURING THE TRIAL! The child disappeared during the summer of 2008. One has to wonder: What were the investigators/prosecutors doing with this computer during the THREE YEARS leading up to the trial? The members of the jury had to be anxiously anticipating the prosecution's counter attack during the rebuttal phase of the closing arguments. I know I was! The most incredible development of the entire trial occurred when the prosecution mysteriously abandoned the 'chloroform search' issue. Poof! Two weeks after the jury came back with a verdict, the facts of this debacle were released to the public, ....read on:
This had to be an enormous source of embarrassment for the prosecution.
As far as establishing the presence of chloroform and conclusive evidence of a premeditated homicide, the prosecution did not even get to first base. In early January, 2012, the TLC network aired what was LOOSELY referred to as a "documentary" entitled "Dr. G: Inside the Caylee Anthony Case". The information disseminated during this program was woefully slanted and polluted with vital inaccuracies.
The two most glaring examples are as follows:
First, the TLC program casually mentioned that Caylee's remains were recovered in December 2008. This was true. However, TLC seemed to hastily move on from there—going out of their way to applaud the investigative work dedicated to gleaning information from such excessively deteriorated remains. Interestingly, NO mention was made that the location of the body WAS REPORTED FOUR MONTHS EARLIER, ....with no productive follow-up exploration of that crime scene. Note that the remains were found ONLY 1/3 of a mile from the Anthony home, 19 feet 8 inches off of a paved roadway. Ten feet of this distance was a mowed, grassy border. So, ....the police unknowingly allowed vital evidentiary materials to sit in a swamp throughout most of August, all of September, October, November, and beyond. Anybody who has experienced Florida's weather during these months, ...well, ...this was an ENORMOUS gaffe!
Second, a brief segment of the TLC program showed prosecuting attorney, Linda Drane Burdick, at the trial, uttering the words "....84 Google searches for chloroform....". Unbelievable! These continued references to that which has—LONG SINCE—been disproven, leaves me searching for the most indignant, ....but appropriate response. Words from Joseph Goebbels provide a suitable commentary on TLC's sorry excuse for a documentary: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Goebbels continues ".....for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie,...." Perhaps I am the one—not TLC—who has it all wrong here. If it *somehow* turns out that the estimation of 84 searches was correct after all, I will immediately print a retraction.
The facts are what they are: Additional articles on this software fiasco are as follows:
At times during the trial, the prosecution DID present their evidence quite effectively. However, the moment has arrived for these good people to stop attempting to shift blame onto the jurors. The jury didn't blow this one, ....you did. The original indictment limited the jury's options. Other than pursuing the defendant for lying to the police, ....uh, ......yes, that was a slam dunk, ......the charges were as follows:
First Degree Murder, Aggravated Manslaughter, Child Abuse.
Fortunately, new laws have been crafted that will severely punish individuals who do not report a child's death within one hour, ....or who do not report a child missing within 24 hours after the event. I personally cannot imagine how the penalties for these crimes will be severe enough. It is truly sad that our society has deteriorated to the point at which we actually need such laws.
The next article is entitled: Society’s Latest Legal Disaster
Michael J. Spence, Ph.D.
January 17, 2012