ORLANDO (CN) – A jury in Orange County Florida decided an Orlando mother, Casey Anthony, 25, is not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter who mysteriously went missing in June of 2008. The decision comes after a six-week long trial that drew intense public interest.
Prosecutors claimed Casey killed her daughter with chloroform before taping her mouth, putting her in bags, leaving her in her trunk and then dumping her body in the woods.
“Casey had to choose between the life she wanted and the life she had with her child,” Florida Prosecutor Jeff Ashton said in his closing argument Sunday.
Anthony’s defense team claimed daughter Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool by accident but Casey and her father covered it up.
“Casey acted inappropriately and made some mistakes and bad decisions,” Defense Attorney Jose Baez admitted in his closing argument Sunday. But, he said, the defense had shown that prosecution’s theory could not be supported. “It’s a forensic fantasy and nothing more. This is about winning a high-profile case and not the truth.”
From June 16, 2008 until July 15 of the same year, the Anthony family did not know where the missing toddler could be. Casey’s parents George and Cindy Anthony had only the stories of Casey Anthony to rely on.
Caylee’s remains were found in a trash bag in the woods just 15 houses down from her home on Dec. 11, 2008. Duct tape was found on her skull as well as the shorts and shirt she was wearing.
Casey blamed her daughter’s disappearance on a fictional babysitter , Zenaida Fernandez -Gonzalez or “Zanny the nanny,” who Casey said kidnapped Caylee.
“It’s easy to be a parent when it’s fun, but when faced with a problem Casey lies or changes her lie,” Ashton said.
During the 31 days Casey between the time Caylee was last seen and the day she was reported missing, Casey was seen partying, getting a tatoo and spending time with her boyfriend. She even had time, according to prosecutors, to steal a friend’s checks and go shopping.
“When Casey wants to do something she finds a way to do it,” prosecutor Ashton said.
The defense argued for reasonable doubt by saying Casey’s father, George and her brother, Lee sexually abused Casey throughout her childhood explaining her reaction to the supposed drowning. The alleged abuse was said to have caused Casey to have a fear of her father, mental issues and imaginary friends.
In rejecting a motion to establish incompetency, Judge Belvin Perry ruled that the defendant was in fact competent to stand trial.
Now Baez said nobody has really won because little Caylee is still not with us. He said he hopes Casey can get her life back together.
“This is a prime example of why you can’t convict someone until they’ve had their day on court,” defense lawyer Baez said.
The jury of 12, seven women and five men, took about 10 hours to reach the verdict.
Casey Anthony was however, found guilty on four misdemeanor charges of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Sentencing for those charges is set for Thursday at 9 a.m.