A little more than 24 hours have passed since the Casey Anthony trial ended with what most people see as a travesty of justice.
I happen to think the jury got the verdict right. Don’t get me wrong – I think that Ms. Anthony is guilty as hell, in some fashion, with the death of her daughter. However, American jurisprudence requires two things of a jury:
- The defendant is presumed innocent, regardless of the nature of the crime, intensity of media coverage or other outside factors.
- The prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
In both respects, the jury did their job. They did not convict Casey Anthony prior to the trial, nor were their most pressing questions answered by the prosecutor.
The prosecution failed to establish the essential facts in the case. They could provide neither time nor method of death. More importantly, they failed to provide a motive that the jury could find credible, given their theory of the case. The motive they ascribed to Ms. Anthony – she wanted her 2 year old daughter dead so that she could assume a party-girl lifestyle – is the motive of a narcissistic psychopath. In order to prove that motive (and make no mistake, despite all the forensic evidence, the case hung on motive), they needed to prove that Casey Anthony is, in fact a narcissistic psychopath.
The prosecution failed to do so. They were able to prove that Casey Anthony is a pathological liar – which is why she was convicted of four counts of lying. But rather than prove that she is inhuman enough to kill her own daughter, the prosecution only succeeded in demonstrating that Casey Anthony is a lot like the rest of us. Somewhat self-centered, but hardly a narcissist. Flawed and hardly a person of the highest moral character, but I think we all know plenty of people who fit that mold. As far as I know, none are child killers.
In demonstrating that she did, in fact, enjoy her time in the bars and clubs of Central Florida, the prosecution made a serious blunder. Rather than prove Casey only wanted to party, to the detriment of her daughter, they proved that she had child-care options when she did decide to hit the bar scene. The defense demonstrated while the Anthony family is more dysfunctional than The Simpsons, both Casey and her parents loved little Caley – in fact, it was Caley that was the binding force. If Casey wanted to be rid of Caley so desperately, there is no doubt that she could have simply packed her belongings and left a note on the fridge: “Gone to enjoy my life. Back in 20 years. Look after Caley.”
So, failing to dehumanize Casey Anthony – and in fact, making her seem just as human as most of our neighbors – the prosecution was unable to convince the jury of her guilt. The principle question of the case, why would a mother kill her own daughter – was left unanswered. And the highest principle of our court system (the one that says “It is better 1,000 guilty men go free rather than one innocent man stands convicted) was affirmed yet again.