Casey Anthony Trial: Not Guilty Murder Verdict
Verdict comes after six weeks of riveting testimony in Orlando courtroom.
ORLANDO, Fla. July 5, 2011— -- Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The jury declined to convict her of either first degree murder or manslaughter.
Instead, the jurors found Casey Anthony guilty on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement, which are misdemeanors. It's possible she could be released from prison later this week.
Clutching the hand of her defense attorney Jose Baez, Casey Anthony began to sob as the verdict was read. The rest of her defense team stood beside her, also clutching hands. She thanked Baez as she was swarmed by the defense team.
Her parents, Cindy and George Anthony, left the courtroom as Judge Belvin Perry read further instructions to the jury and did not approach their daughter.
They later released a statement saying, "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 jury, comprised of seven women and five men, declined to talk to the media following the verdict.
Casey Anthony, who sat grim faced throughout the six weeks of testimony, beamed happily as she was fingerprinted in the courtroom for her misdemeanor convictions.
Sentencing on the guilty counts will be held on 9 a.m. Thursday. The maximum sentence applicable in this case is four years, but having already served two and a half years behind bars, Casey Anthony stands to serve one and a half years.
It is also possible that Judge Belvin Perry rules that Casey Anthony could serve the years concurrently, which would set her free. Casey Anthony could be let out on bail before her Thursday sentencing if the defense asks for it and the judge agrees.
In a press conference after the verdict, defense attorney Cheney Mason railed at the media for their wall-to-wall coverage of the trial, remarking that it was "media assassination" filled with "bias and prejudice and incompetent talking heads."
In a more tempered statement, Baez said, "While we're happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case. Caylee has passed on far, far too soon."
"What my driving force has been for the past three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee. It's that simple," said Baez. "And today, our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction."
"I'm very happy for Casey, I'm ecstatic for her and I want her to be able to grieve and grow and somehow get life back together," said Baez.
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, who had entered the courtroom to roaring applause, sat shaking his head after the verdict. Ashton declined to speak after the trial, but the state attorney's office announced that Ashton had promptly retired.
Outside the courtroom, spectators screamed "Lord!" as the learned of the not guilty ruling. People comforted each other and cried, one man remarking that Casey Anthony should leave town because she's not welcome in Orlando.
One woman said, "[The verdict] is going to make millions of people think they can get away with killing their child...That isn't a good depiction of what our justice system is like or should be."
Another woman: "I just think it's going to make millions of people think they can get away with killing their child or committing major crimes and getting away with it. This isn't a good depiction of what our justice system is like or should be.
In New York's Times Square, the reaction to the verdict was emotional.
"I'm sick, you know, she killed a little girl," said Susan McDougal. "So she gets off and she goes home and maybe has another baby that she can abuse and hurt."
Law enforcement officials roped off a door where Cindy and George Anthony were expected to exit out of, and bystanders chanted "Appeal! Appeal!" and "justice for Caylee."