Why I think the jury decided as they did

Did the Anthony jury not care that somebody stuffed an adorable child’s body in a trash bag with duct tape stuck in her hair and then threw her away in a trash dump?

Of course not. Of course they cared. Of course they knew someone had committed some kind of crime against the child, if nothing more than not caring that she died and then disposing of her body in a horrible, criminal manner.

Jean Casarez of In Session claims that the jury has just told murderers they need to bury their bodies well. She says the jury ignored the cadaver dog evidence, ignored the evidence of the remains, and the computer searches for chloroform.

She must not have listened to the same evidence and testimony I did. All the cadaver dog evidence showed was that a body was probably in the Anthony back yard at some point and that the body was probably in the car at some point. The dogs did not tell anyone who died or who put the body in the car and why.

The evidence of the remains proves that someone wanted to hide the body, but there was no forensic evidence of who wanted to hide the body. That the manner of death was homicide is likely, but not conclusive, because no one knows the cause of death—not even the famous Dr. G.

And the computer searches? Only someone completely ignorant of technology could think that was evidence of anything other than curiosity about something someone said on MySpace. The search on “how to make chloroform” came after a MySpace page on which one of Casey’s boyfriends made a remark about winning girls with chloroform.

Casey Anthony isn’t getting away Scott-free. She will be hounded by crazy strangers all her life, by the media all her life, and the odds are that she won’t be able to cope with this even as well as O. J. Simpson did. She needs therapy. She needs to get a life. It’s unlikely that will happen.

Actually, the reason Jean Casarez and all the In Session commentators are appalled at the jury is that they are all former prosecutors, and, frankly, I am sure that all prosecutors and many judges wish there were no juries.

What I don’t understand at all, though, is why George and Cindy Anthony could not bear the sight of their daughter being spared a lethal injection and had to escape from the courtroom before the judge even pronounced her not guilty.

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On Second Thought, Keep It Simple

The defense summation in the Casey Anthony murder trial can neither weave a coherent narrative from the evidence nor appeal to reasonable doubt. All they can do is keep it very, very simple.

Tell the jury what is obvious:

1. The prosecution has not proved Caylee Anthony’s cause of death and therefore can’t prove that her mother murdered her with chloroform, duct tape, or a plastic bag.

2. The prosecution has not proved Caylee Anthony’s manner of death was homicide rather than accident.

3. The defense has presented evidence suggesting the cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was accident—not proof, but evidence, nonetheless.

4. No one knows how Caylee’s body ended up in the trunk of her mother’s car, except Casey Anthony.

5. No one knows how Caylee’s remains ended up in the wooded area, except possibly Casey, possibly George Anthony, and possibly the meter reader.

As a result, all that the prosecution has proven is that Casey Anthony attempted to cover up her daughter’s death and lied to the police.

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Kudos to Jeff Ashton

In the Casey Anthony trial, prosecutor Jeff Ashton has finally accomplished what I thought would be impossible: he elicited testimony today from George Anthony that momentarily made me wonder if the defense theory about his involvement in the cover-up of little Caylee’s death and his reason for attempting suicide was wholly fabricated.

But only momentarily. When the trial recessed for lunch, I had a chance to think about what George Anthony said—it made no sense at all.

George Anthony testified that before he swallowed blood-pressure medicine and a six-pack of beer he bought a gun with which to threaten some of “Casey’s friends” whom he thought had information about Caylee’s whereabouts.

Huh?

Which of Casey’s friends was of a murderous frame of mind or a kidnapping frame of mind in January 2009? Which of her friends had something to hide or something that George thought they were hiding? It couldn’t possibly have been the friends who testified at the beginning of the prosecution’s case, because they were all extremely up-standing citizens, including a politician’s staffer.

Why would a former police officer (George Anthony) decide to take the law into his own hands by committing a felony, namely, assaulting people with a deadly weapon?

Let’s face it: what George Anthony said about the gun purchase is very, very strange—as strange as his claim that he visited a woman named “River Cruise” or “Cruz” at night because she had cancer and he was being charitable.

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Mysterious Human Behavior in the Casey Anthony Trial

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, the shark-attack siren sounds.

On Tuesday in the Casey Anthony trial most of the witnesses and a few of the attorneys behaved in rather unexpected ways—unexpected at least by this mystery maven.

For fear of defaming any individual, I’m not going to be specific. But one thing I feel I learned from Tuesday’s testimony is that a lot of people have no qualms about lying under oath on TV in a high-profile trial. In addition, a lot of family members have no qualms about contradicting one another on the stand—family members who clearly love one another.

I think I’m safe in characterizing the attitudes of the attorneys, however. Prosecutor Drane-Burdick was sullen all day—as she was yesterday. Prosecutor Ashton was prissy and IMHO disingenuous in his constant surprise at the defense.

While the “chatters” on the various live-video websites were unanimously condemnatory of the defense team, I felt defense attorneys Baez and Mason behaved appropriately. They hammered away at their client’s accusers, including George Anthony and Roy Kronk.

Many interesting witnesses appeared outside the jury’s hearing, as well. Many of them won’t be permitted to testify—apparently. And I must say—as a former criminal-trial juror—it’s what the judge doesn’t let you hear that drives you wild after the trial when you find out about it.

But the jury did hear important evidence today and yesterday about the way in which Caylee Anthony’s remains were discovered. If I were on the Anthony jury—and obviously I am not—I would be very troubled by Roy Kronk’s testimony today and by Lee Anthony’s testimony about his mother’s sending a detective to investigate a psychic’s lead about the possibility that Caylee’s remains were in the woods near the Anthony home.

I’m not saying I would believe the defense theory that Kronk moved the remains around (other than his statement that he lifted the plastic bag and the skull fell out at his feet—which casts serious doubt on the CSI evidence). I’m saying that if I were asked whether Casey Anthony deposited Caylee’s remains with duct tape in the woods near her home, I would have to say I have a reasonable doubt.

But I want to be very clear: I am not an average person in any way. I am not an average juror. What I’m saying is that I was surprised to find that I served on a jury of other non-average jurors. There may be one of us on the Casey Anthony jury.

So, despite the foul-mouthed chatters on the various trial websites, I don’t think Casey Anthony is coming off as a cold-blooded killer.

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The evil that men do . . . .

“The evil that men do lives after them,” according to William Shakespeare. But I now believe that the evil men do is far greater than even a mystery writer can imagine or a police detective can ever prove.

Yesterday I was bludgeoned with more evil than I had ever imagined. The blunt force trauma I received was my own fault: I spend much too much time following high-profile trials and watching TV “magazine shows” like Glenn Beck.

Freud pointed out the need for human beings to pass on bad news. That’s what I’m about to do in this blog. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s all I’ve ever done in this blog—try to get bad news off my chest.

Glenn Beck’s program yesterday focused on slavery in the Arab world—in the place where the United States has for decades expended its treasure and blood. Specifically, Beck reported on advocates of slavery in Kuwait and Egypt. For instance, he played a videotape of a Kuwaiti woman who thought the Moslem world should import women and children from Chechnya, where they are taken as prisoners of war, for use as sex slaves.

But to make matters worse, I learned after the program that it isn’t only Islamists in the Middle East who advocate slavery; the fact is that slavery is practiced, even in pro-Western, secular countries. In Libya, for instance, before Qaddafi, under King Idris, slavery was openly practiced—even Americans who lived and worked on American military bases in Tripoli knew about slaves there. In other words, the U. S. government, including the Department of Defense and the Department of State, have an ongoing policy of propping up regimes that tolerate slavery.

Yesterday’s testimony by Casey Anthony’s mother was another evil spectacle I witnessed yesterday. Cindy Anthony was so drugged up she couldn’t even remember the events she was supposed to be testifying about. I can understand why the courts permit defendants to take drugs to remain calm, but I cannot accept a court system in which witnesses for the prosecution are permitted to take the stand on drugs.

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Casey Anthony Trial—Strangeness

Strangeness is a quality of subatomic particles. It’s also a quality that I seem to suffer from whenever I watch TruTV’s broadcast of the Casey Anthony trial and hear their commentators’ take on the testimony and evidence.


Is Casey Believable?


This morning a former police officer-turned-TV-commentator questioned whether the jury would believe Casey Anthony’s claim that her daughter drowned in the backyard swimming pool on June 16, 2008, if they believed she was suffering from a severe mental disorder, such as either sociopathy or Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD).


He doesn’t seem to understand that the jury isn’t required to believe Casey Anthony’s claims—all they are required to do is decide whether the prosecution proved its claims beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe he doesn’t believe that jurors are capable of making this distinction, because he can’t.


Well, I can tell him from personal experience as a juror on a criminal case that jurors can do that. Even when confronted with a defendant who is clearly not a model citizen, who clearly has committed some crime or crimes, whom his attorney has even thrown under the bus, jurors can still say that the prosecution did not prove its case.


In fact, of course, Casey hasn’t made any claims yet. Her attorney’s opening statement isn’t evidence.


Casey Didn’t Sleep at Home


Another strangeness about me is that I seem to have noticed a contradiction which commentators have not between George Anthony’s testimony that he was in the habit of spending time with Caylee every day before he went to work and the testimony of at least a dozen witnesses that Caylee spent the night with them and her mother during the month of May and the first two weeks of June 2008. This contradiction seems so blatant to me that I’m beginning to wonder about my own sanity. Did I really hear this?


I didn’t keep track of the dates or the number of nights Casey and Caylee spent with five or six different boyfriends and girlfriends, but I have the distinct impression that Casey didn’t want to spend the night at home for some reason.


But she did spend the night of June 15 at home. And that was the last time Caylee was seen alive.


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Casey Anthony’s friends

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.” –Japanese proverb

Yesterday, several former friends of Casey Anthony testified in her murder trial for the prosecution. These people described meeting Casey Anthony in late May and early June of 2008, meeting her daughter Caylee, observing her interactions with Caylee, and then also Casey’s demeanor following June 16 when the defense claims Caylee drowned in the backyard swimming pool.

These are the people with whom the media claimed Casey callously partied after murdering her daughter. We saw photo after photo of Casey in a bar grinning at the camera, dancing suggestively, and generally carousing.

So, I expected that her friends would be fairly vapid “party people” like her. I was shocked to discover that Casey Anthony’s friends are all intelligent, responsible citizens and that the reason Casey was in the bar is that her friends were paying their way through college by promoting special events at bars and that she was helping them. She attended these special events, encouraged her friends to attend, and advised bar workers on appropriate clothing for the events.

These friends said repeatedly that Casey’s personality was charming, a “fun” person who fit in well with their group. They also said that Casey was attentive and loving toward her daughter. None of them ever saw her mistreat Caylee. In essence, Casey Anthony was like her friends.

Before yesterday’s testimony, the press also implied that Casey Anthony was promiscuous, possibly even a sort of nymphomaniac (if that’s a politically correct and permissible term these days). They reported that she did not know who the father of her child was, that someone named Jesse was suspected at one time of having fathered Caylee, and that Casey was living with someone named Tony at the time Caylee “disappeared.”

I suppose you could say that “When the character of a woman is not clear to you, look at her lovers.”

Well, yesterday and today we learned that Casey and Tony were in love, and we learned that Tony is a very honorable man. We learned that Casey had long-term male friends who liked her and wanted to associate with her.

So what does this say about Casey Anthony’s character?

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Casey Anthony Trial

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a thankless child,” said King Lear. Of course, King Lear was a narcissistic, senile monarch who had just abdicated the throne without any consideration for his country’s future. The old fool thought he was entitled to a long vacation after all he had done for his kingdom.

In fact, the truth is that there’s nothing to match an unloving parent for cruelty.

When George Anthony took the witness stand yesterday right after the shocking defense opening statement, I honestly thought he would break down and cry, either because of his daughter’s betrayal of him or because he was guilty of much of what she accused him of. Foolish me, I even thought that if he was innocent he would take the blame in order to save his only daughter from being strapped to a gurney and lethally injected behind a bullet-proof glass window while he and his wife watched.

A decent man would do what ever it took to save his daughter from the death chamber, even if he thought she was guilty of neglecting her child, letting the child die, and then making up an elaborate lie to cover up the crime. If he knew for a fact that she intentionally suffocated her child and then discarded the body, he might want to see justice done, but surely life in prison would satisfy such a father.

But George Anthony didn’t do anything to save his daughter. He took the stand as the prosecution’s first witness. He said a number of completely incredible things, and then he got off the stand and let the bailiffs return his daughter to prison.

How did George Anthony condemn himself, let me count the ways:

  • He said he couldn’t tell his daughter was pregnant in her 7th month, despite her bulging belly, because throughout her life from time to time she had “retained water” and gained weight because of exercise or lack thereof, including in “her butt.” (An odd term to use when you’ve just been accused of sexual abuse.)
  • He said he traveled to attend a brother-in-law’s wedding, then did not go to the wedding (for unstated reasons). After the wedding, the brother-in-law confronted him with Casey’s pregnancy and they argued—because George could not believe she was pregnant.
  • He said he was “thrilled” to learn that Casey was pregnant, but he didn’t ask her who the father was at first. I wonder if that was because he was afraid she would say he was.
  • He said he went with Casey for a sonogram and learned the child was female; he would have been “thrilled” if it had been male, but he was thrilled it was female, anyway.
  • He said he was in the delivery room when Casey gave birth, and “of course it was embarrassing” but it was “thrilling,” too. Embarrassing? Why was he there? Could it be that he wanted to make sure Casey kept her mouth shut?
  • He said he spent time with Caylee every day of her life—except for that period of several months when she was a tiny infant and he moved out and left his wife and daughter and granddaughter.
  • At one point he claimed he had a right to keep certain facts about his marriage private—this, after he has just been accused of being unfaithful to his wife and to have abused his daughter in the privacy of his home.
  • He said he insisted that Casey should work in order to provide for Caylee’s “basic necessities,” but unfortunately he didn’t notice that she never had any money.
  • He said he thought for two years that Casey was employed at two or three places, but about six months before Caylee’s “disappearance” he went to one of the places of employment to see whether or not Casey really worked there—and if she did to “surprise” her with a lunch.
  • He said on the day he last saw her, Caylee told him she was going to see the nonexistent “Zannie” the nanny.  Odd that a child would have an imaginary nanny, isn’t it? Most kids just have imaginary playmates.
  • He said he could remember what Caylee was wearing the last time he saw her, but he didn’t wonder where she went to for about a month—even though, he said, Casey and Caylee lived in his house.
  • Forget about the duct tape, which he did or didn’t have, and the stolen gas cans, which he reported missing although apparently they often went missing because Casey never had gas money, and the the fact of a car being towed, which was either his or Casey’s (he said both), and had something smelly in the trunk when he recovered it from the tow yard and why he didn’t go looking for Casey and Caylee at that time.

When Jose Baez opened with the assertion that “Caylee Anthony drowned in the backyard pool on June 16,” I thought it was a brilliant tactic. By the time George Anthony got down from the stand, I thought—with horror—that it was true.

I wondered what Judge Perry would do. Surely, I thought, the State of Florida is going to end this tragic farce, save the taxpayers’ money, and spare the jury from two months of horror. But, I guess a judge has to sit there and let the prosecution torture everybody, because the circus continues today.

The camera in the courtroom showed the looks on the faces of the lawyers, Casey Anthony, and spectators throughout the opening statement and George’s “testimony.” I can imagine what the jurors looked like. I imagine some of them looked like death-penalty specialist Cheney Mason looked–shocked, as if he had no idea what Jose Baez was going to say. His face was red behind his white beard and his eyes were very sad. The prosecutors looked sarcastic and angry—which was not to their credit. Most of the spectators looked troubled. I saw Geraldo Rivera’s face as George Anthony testified; he looked very conflicted, as well he should since he has condemned Casey Anthony in public.

If I were a juror, I wouldn’t yet believe the defense story. But I would definitely analyze the prosecution’s evidence very carefully. Baez presented a good deal of information that has previously been disputed (although the jurors claimed they had heard none of it in the news). He threw dates around without any anchors. He tried to question George Anthony about facts not yet in evidence.

But I wouldn’t believe a word that George Anthony said. I wouldn’t understand how a father could get on a witness stand in his daughter’s murder trial and not try to save her life. A man would have to know for a fact that his daughter was intentionally cruel to his granddaughter to want her to die by lethal injection. And, if he knew for a fact that his daughter was being cruel to his only granddaughter, wouldn’t he have saved the child long before she “disappeared”?

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Jury Selection in the Casey Anthony Trial—Part II

“Do jurors solve mysteries?”

Yikes! Only an idiot would say “Yes” to that question, especially someone who obviously wants to be chosen to serve on the Anthony jury (which in itself is proof of idiocy). And, yes, someone said “Yes.”

Jury selection in the Casey Anthony trial continues at a snail’s pace, even though opening arguments were scheduled to begin today. IMHO—and I am not a lawyer—this situation arises from a mistake on Judge Belvin Perry’s part: he should have conducted voir dire concerning hardship exemptions and death penalty “qualifications” on the entire group, rather than one at a time.

If he had conducted a group voir dire, a simple show of hands would have eliminated those jurors who genuinely could not serve for a two-month trial. Another show of hands would have eliminated those jurors who did not feel they could impose the death penalty in any case.

After that, a third show of hands would have indicated which jurors had heard a great deal about the case from the media and who felt they could not disregard the pre-trial publicity.

Another benefit of group voir dire would have been that the “tainting” of the jury pool, which occurred early last week, would not have happened. Apparently a prospective juror was also a prospective witness in the trial. Surely such a person would have raised his hand to admit he knew a great deal about the case.

Understanding of Civics

Much as I’m interested in juries and jury selection, even I can’t bear to listen to any more of this. What I’ve learned is that people in Florida don’t seem to have received a very good civics education. Even college-educated jurors seem confused by questions such as:

  • “Could you consider the age of a defendant in making a determination of life or death?” (One person responded, “I don’t know why you’re asking me this,” as if she had a right to be offended by it.)
  • “Do you think that anyone who’s on trial is probably guilty?” (One person said, “Yes. Somebody must have thought they were guilty at some point or they wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.”)
  • “Can you set aside your religious beliefs” [concerning the death penalty] “and follow the law as the judge explains it to you?” (One person said, “Yes.” Hmmm. Having heard this interchange, I concluded this person wants to be on the jury for some reason; otherwise why would anybody state in public that they are willing to be hypocritical?)
  • “Do you understand why the defendant doesn’t have to present a case? In other words, do you think it’s possible to prove a negative?” (One person said, “I don’t know what you mean by that.”)

Jury Reform

In recent years, various legal organizations have studied the need for what they call “jury reform.” A 2005 article (The Verdict on Juries) in the ABA Journal summarizes what it is that most lawyers and judges would like to see change:

  • Better pay
  • Widening the pool of prospective jurors (including using unemployment roles, which actually makes sense because the unemployed would have no work-related conflicts and could use the pay, if it were at least a living wage)
  • Permitting jurors to ask question
  • Permitting jurors to take notes
  • Protection of juror privacy
  • Requiring 12 person juries in all cases, both civil and criminal
  • Requiring unanimous verdicts in all cases, both civil and criminal

I don’t quibble with any of these reforms, other than some of the ways in which to widen the jury pool, because I don’t believe that everyone has been taught the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, or even any history of the 20th century, without which they can never possibly understand why minorities should be tried by a jury of other minority people, among other things.

The one reform that’s most needed is a way of educating prospective jurors about what they are supposed to do and not supposed to do in the jury room. Jurors need to be provided with guidance on the following:

  • Process of selecting a foreperson
  • Process of thoroughly reviewing evidence presented in the trial
  • Process of reaching consensus without compromising or bullying
  • What it means specifically that the jurors are to “use their common sense and life experiences” in reaching a decision
  • What they are forbidden by law to do, including conducting their own investigation (both in the jury room and outside the courthouse) and what the consequences may be if they do it anyway
  • What the consequences to them may be if they “hang,” by which I mean that the judge must assure them that it is not illegal for them to fail to reach a verdict or reach consensus
  • Why it is a bad idea to talk to the press after a trial

My guess is that:

  • One of the pushier women (a nurse, perhaps) on the Casey Anthony jury is going to volunteer to be foreperson, and she will be an awful foreperson.
  • The jury will fail to review all the evidence and instead focus only on one or two points taken from the prosecution’s closing argument.
  • No one on the jury will really understand what “reasonable doubt” is.
  • No one on the jury will know a good process for debating the facts.
  • Someone on the jury will say at some point, “The judge told us to use common sense and our life experiences. Well, I’m a [fill in the profession] and I know for a fact that what Mr. Witness said is false.”
  • Someone else on the jury will say at some point, “I don’t like the way the prosecution seemed to skip right over that fact, as if it were meaningless, but I think it’s very important.” And someone else will say, “If the prosecution didn’t mention it, then we can’t talk about it.”
  • Someone on the jury will take out an item of evidence and study it at length. And in the end he or she will say, “Look at this. Why didn’t they notice this in the trial? Look at it. Shake it. Smell it. This proves the defense was lying.”

Because apparently a lot of Florida jurors think the jury’s role is to “solve the mystery.”

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