It was like waiting to hear the verdict from the O.J. Simpson trial – there I was getting ready to leave for work with CNN on in the background waiting with the rest of the world to hear the verdict. When I read online that the jury had taken only 11 hours to deliberate I knew for sure the outcome would be guilty. Even the television commentators were saying that they hoped the defense team was preparing Casey for the worst. A short deliberation time almost always means a guilty verdict. Almost always. When the verdict was read I remember turning to my husband and asking – what did they say to which he replied, not guilty.
No one can deny that emotions ran high in this case. Just looking at the pictures and videos of lovely little Caylee and the thought of what may have happened to her had everyone out looking for blood. The lies the manipulations and the death of an innocent, angelic 2 year old captured our hearts and minds. Over and over for 3 years we have seen the pictures, heard the commentary and formed our opinions based on how the media presented it. How could there be any doubt – this woman was a slut and a bad mother so it stands to reason that she killed her child. Thank goodness our criminal justice system is based on a couple of simple principles namely the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and acquittal with established reasonable doubt.
Who in this country for even one minute presumed Casey Anthony was innocent. No one person I know. And yet our legal system tells us we must presume that – it is the law. In an era of instant communication, social networking and media blitzes we all jumped on the bandwagon of convicting this woman before the trial even began. No wonder we are all in shock today because we all convicted a person before they had their day in court. And the media played a big part in this. So, guilty or innocent I for one am relieved that someone with so much bad press about them can still become a free person when being judged by a jury of their peers. I never would have believed that that could be possible anymore.
Then there is the mandate of reasonable doubt. I don’t think the story of Caylee drowning in the family pool or George Anthony trying to cover it up cast one shred of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. But charging someone with a capital offense of murder in the first degree with the possibility of death and not being able to prove when Caylee died and how she died – that casts reasonable doubt. The jury only took 11 hours to deliberate because the prosecution failed to provide any substantive evidence that proved Caylee was murdered. The prosecution also could not definitively prove her manner of death. And that was at the foundation of everything else that was presented to the jury. So if the they all agreed that the prosecution did not prove those two things there was absolutely no need to go any further with deliberations. Although the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming, our justice system requires proof . The prosecution was charged with proving that murder had been committed and in the end because they could not Casey was acquitted. When you are asking 12 men and women to convict someone to death because they killed someone, then you had better be able to prove that a murder occurred.
Although my heart aches for little Caylee, I do believe our justice system prevailed. I think one reporter coined it most appropriately – Casey’s verdict was not guilty on the charges brought up by the prosecution. That is totally different than saying that Casey is innocent. But because the prosecution went for the jugular in this case by pursuing murder in the first degree we may never know what happened to Caylee and her death will probably go the route of Jon Benet Ramsey – a memory that fades in time.
We forget that the purpose of our legal system is not to provide justice but plainly and simply to determine guilt or innocence based on facts and not on circumstance. And when emotions seep into the equation it steamrolls out of control just as it did in this case. The legal system was never designed to provide justice – if that were the case people like O. J. Simpson and Casey Anthony would never be able to walk free. But the system did do what it was supposed to do, provide a verdict based on whether the facts in the case prove the charges being rendered. And in this instance, they did not.
That being said, it doesn’t make me feel any better to know that we will probably never find out exactly what happened to poor little Caylee and who was responsible. And although the jury rendered a not guilty verdict I truly believe what goes around comes around. I just hope I am around when it comes back around.