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Casey Anthony cleared of murdering young daughter

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- Casey Anthony's eyes welled with tears and her lips trembled as the verdict was read once, twice and then a third time: ``Not guilty'' of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday, many in the crowd of 500 reacted with anger, chanting, ``Justice for Caylee!'' One man yelled, ``Baby killer!''

In one of America's most divisive verdicts since former football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, Anthony was cleared of murder, manslaughter and child-abuse charges after weeks of constant TV coverage that one of her attorneys denounced as ``media assassination.''

Anthony, 25, was convicted only of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators who were looking into the child's June 2008 disappearance.

Anthony could get up to a year behind bars on each count when she is sentenced Thursday. But since she has been in jail for nearly three years already, she could walk free. Had she been convicted of murder, she could have gotten the death penalty.

After a trial of a month and a half, the Florida Ninth Judicial Circuit Court jury took less than 11 hours to reach a verdict in a case that had become a national cable TV sensation, with its testimony about the smell of death inside a car trunk and its storyline about a seemingly self-centered, hard-partying young mother.

Prosecutors contended that Anthony _ a single mother living with her parents _ suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend.

Defense attorneys argued that the little girl accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool, and that Anthony panicked and concealed the death because of the traumatic effects of sexual abuse by her father.

State's Attorney Lawson Lamar said: ``We're disappointed in the verdict today because we know the facts and we've put in absolutely every piece of evidence that existed.'' The prosecutor lamented the lack of hard evidence, saying, ``This is a dry-bones case. Very, very difficult to prove. The delay in recovering little Caylee's remains worked to our considerable disadvantage.''

Anthony failed to report Caylee's disappearance for a month. The child's decomposed body was eventually found in the woods near her grandparents' home six months after she was last seen. A medical examiner was never able to establish how she died, and prosecutors had only circumstantial evidence that Caylee had been killed.

The jurors _ seven women, five men _ would not talk to the media, and their identities were kept secret by the court.

The case played out on national television almost from the moment Caylee was reported missing three years ago. HLN's Nancy Grace approached the case with the zeal of the hard-nosed prosecutor she once was, arguing that Anthony _ or ``the tot mom,'' as Grace routinely called her _ was responsible for her daughter's death.

Anthony's attorney Cheney Mason lashed out at the media after the verdict.

``Well, I hope that this is a lesson to those of you having indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, prejudice and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how to be,'' Mason said.

Without mentioning Grace by name, he added: ``I'm disgusted by some of the lawyers that have done this, and I can tell you that my colleagues from coast to coast and border to border have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television and talking about cases that they don't know a damn thing about.''

The defense team gathered after the verdict to celebrate at a restaurant across the street from the courthouse. At one point Mason was seen in the window extending his middle finger toward the crowd outside.

Grace, broadcasting from Orlando, said after the jury's decision: ``There is no way that this is a verdict that speaks the truth.''

Given the relative speed with which the jury came back, many court-watchers were expecting Anthony to be convicted and were stunned by the outcome.

Anthony's parents left court quickly after the verdict without hugging or saying anything to Anthony. As court broke up, she smiled broadly and tightly hugged her lawyers.

``While we're happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case,'' Casey Anthony's attorney Jose Baez said after the verdict. ``Caylee has passed on far, far too soon, and what my driving force has been for the last 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. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.''

Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial, during which they listened to more than 33 days of testimony and looked at 400 pieces of evidence. Anthony did not take the stand.

The case became a macabre tourist attraction in Orlando. People camped outside for seats in the courtroom, and scuffles broke out among those desperate to watch the drama unfold.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick showed the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Anthony smiling and partying in a nightclub during the first month Caylee was missing. The other was the tattoo Anthony got a day before law enforcement learned of the child's disappearance: the Italian words for ``beautiful life.''

``At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?'' Burdick asked. ``This is your answer.''

Prosecutors also focused heavily on an odor in the trunk of Anthony's car, which forensics experts said was consistent with the smell of human decay. But the defense argued that the air analysis could not be duplicated, and that maggots in the trunk had come from a bag of trash.

Prosecutors hammered away at the lies Anthony told when the child was missing: She told her parents that she couldn't produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zanny _ a woman who doesn't exist; that she and her daughter were spending time with a rich boyfriend who doesn't exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.

Baez said during closing arguments that the prosecutors' case was so weak they tried to portray Anthony as ``a lying, no-good slut'' and that their forensic evidence was based on a ``fantasy.'' He said Caylee's death was ``an accident that snowballed out of control.''

He contended that the toddler drowned and that when Anthony panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder by putting duct tape on the girl's mouth and dumping the body in the woods a quarter-mile (400 meters) away. Anthony's father denied both the cover-up and abuse claims.

 

(관련기사)

美 `파티맘' 무죄평결..비난여론 빗발쳐

위증 혐의만 유죄.."잘못된 재판" 비난 들끓어

(애틀랜타=연합뉴스) 안수훈 특파원 = 미국에서 두 살이 된 딸을 살해한 혐의로 기소된 20대 `파티 맘'이 무죄 평결을 받자 이 판결이 잘못됐다고 분노하는  미국인 들의 여론이 들끓고 있다.

플로리다주 올랜도의 순회재판소는 5일 지난 2008년 두 살 딸을 살해한 혐의로 기소됐던 케이시 앤서니(25.여) 사건 재판에서 배심원단이 1급 살인 혐의에  무죄평 결을 내렸다고 밝혔다. 배심원단은 그러나 수사당국에 대한 위증 혐의에는 유죄평결 을 했다.

여성 7명, 남성 5명으로 구성된 배심원단은 5일에 이어 6일 이틀간 11시간에 걸 친 심의 끝에 앤서니의 1급 살인혐의에 대해 유죄를 인정할 수 없다고 평결했다.

이에 따라 2년 7개월간 계속되면서 미국 전역의 관심을 모아온 앤서니 재판은 새로운 국면을 맞게 됐다.

앤서니는 1급 살인혐의에 대해 유죄평결이 내려지면 최소 사형에까지 처해질 수 있었지만 이를 면하게 됐으며, 위증혐의에 대해서는 최대 징역 1년의 선고가 내려질 수 있다.

앤서니 재판은 지난 2008년 6월 그녀의 두 살 난 딸 케일리가 실종되면서  시작 됐다. 19살 때 싱글맘으로 케일리를 낳은 앤서니는 딸이 실종됐는데도 경찰에  신고 하지 않았고, 한 달 뒤 친정엄마가 대신 신고를 하면서 경찰수사가 시작됐다.

케일리는 실종된 지 6개월 뒤인 같은 해 12월11일 집 근처 숲 속에서 숨진 채 발견됐고, 부검결과 입과 코가 배관공들이 사용하는 강력 테이프로 봉해져 질식사한 것으로 드러났다. 입에는 하트모양의 스티커가 붙어 있었다.

검찰은 딸이 실종된 뒤에도 파티를 즐기고, 남자친구와 지내는 등 `파티 걸'인 앤서니가 자유스런 생활을 위해 딸을 질식사시킨 것이라고 주장해 왔다. 반면  앤서 니의 변호인단은 케일리는 집 수영장에서 수영하다 익사한 것이라고 맞서왔다.

이 사건 재판 결과가 나오자 페이스북이나 트위터 등 소셜 미디어를 중심으로 이해할 수 없다는 의견이 빗발치고 있다.

재판이 열린 법정 밖에서는 배심원 평결에 항의하기 위해 수백 명이 모였으며 한 여성은 이 사건을 "제2의 O.J. 심슨 사건"이라고 칭했다.

연예인들도 자신들의 생각을 밝히면서 논쟁에 가세했다.

아버지가 O.J.심슨의 전처 살인 사건 재판 변호사였던 모델 겸 배우 킴  카다시 안은 "뭐라고? 케이시 앤서니가 무죄라니! 할 말을 잃었다!"고 트위터에 썼다.

방송인 샤론 오스본은 이번 재판이 창피하다면서 앤서니가 자신의 리얼리티  쇼 를 진행할 수도 있을 거라고 비꼬았다.

이 사건과 직접적 관련이 없는 많은 사람이 거침없이 의견을 표출하는 것은  미 디어의 잘못 때문이라는 전문가의 지적이 나왔다.

법정신의학자 캐롤 리버먼 박사는 ABC방송 인터뷰에서 "사람들이 이렇게 강하게 반응하는 주된 이유는 배심원 평결이 나오기 전에 미디어가 케이시를 유죄로 단정했 기 때문"이라면서 "대중은 불쌍한 어린 아이에 대한 복수를 원하면서 격분했다"고 말했다.

그는 이어 "보통 대중은 마음속에 이야기를 만들어 놓는데 증거가 충분치  않더 라도 이미 결정했던 것과 다른 결과가 나오면 받아들이기 어려워한다"면서 "이 사건 은 통속적인 TV드라마가 됐다. 흥미로운 살인 미스터리였고 지금도 그렇다"고  말했다. (연합뉴스)

 

 

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