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Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Casey Anthony Trial—Why You Should Be Following This Case

I haven’t posted in my blog for about a year. So to my devoted readers, I sincerely apologize. Let’s just say a lot of stuff has been going on, but I’m going to get back in the saddle and start posting again regularly. So let’s get to it.


Unless you’ve been trapped in a Chilean mine for the last 3 years, you must know that there is a well-publicized Capital Murder Trial going on right now in Orlando, Florida. The Casey Anthony Trial.

For the benefit of the few stragglers out there who don’t know anything about this case, I’ll give you the $0.25 version to bring you up to speed.

June 16, 2008, Caylee Anthony, a little girl just under 3, went missing in Orlando, FL.

July 15, 2008, Caylee was reported missing by her grandmother.

July 16, 2008, Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, was arrested for Neglect of a Child, False Official Statements, and Obstructing a Criminal Investigation.

August 29, 2008, while out on bail, Casey is re-arrested for theft and forgery.

September 15, 2008, she is charged with additional economic crimes.

October 14, 2008, a Grand Jury indicts Casey (the child’s mother) with first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and 4 counts of providing false information to law enforcement.

December 11, 2008, the remains of a small child are found in Orlando.

December 19, 2008, the remains are identified as Caylee Anthony.

January 25, 2010, Casey pleads guilty to 13 economic crimes and is sentenced to time served (412 days).

June 2011: Casey is still in jail, and the jury trial for 1st degree murder is going on right now; and don’t forget that Florida has the death penalty.

Cynthia, why are you interested in this trial, and why should I follow it, you must be thinking.

I’m interested because it’s a fascinating story, and the case against Casey Anthony is a circumstantial one. There is still a lot of mystery in the story. There is a Dickensian cast of characters including The Accused who is the most phenomenal liar you’ll ever come across; a bumbling but well-intended Defense Attorney, Jose Baez, the lawyer everyone loves to hate; scores of young, carefree, party-hearty (former) girlfriends and boyfriends of Casey, Casey’s parents who go above and beyond to support Casey and who are constantly at odds with the media; a tough and pragmatic Detective, Yuri Melich, and an innocent little girl who wound up dead in Florida swamp. While I live in Canada, I am both American and Canadian, and I did used to live in Florida when I was a teenager. What happens in Florida interests me.

I have heard and read that some people think the only reason this case is so high profile is because Caylee was a pretty little white girl. I disagree. I think the reason why this case is so high-profile is because a constellation of factors created a perfect storm of interest and intrigue: first, a pretty little girl goes missing, a pretty mother with a big variety of charges against her doesn’t cooperate with the police at all, the little girl is found dead, the case is populated with a long list of supporting characters some of whom are caricatures of themselves (I won’t mention any names but one of them sits at the defense table, he’s got a beard, and he thinks bloggers are “idiots.” We’ll see who has the last laugh, Fur-Face), devastated grandparents, a capital murder trial, a judge forced to recuse himself, a new judge stricter than the previous one, and the list goes on. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather follow this case then listen to news about the 99 trillion dollar debt or keep tabs on Pippa Middleton’s ass. By the way, I think Duchess Kate’s wedding dress was ugly.

Because of Florida’s “Sunshine Laws”, freedom of information is more extensive in Florida than in any other state, so almost everything going on in this case is available to the public, and a lot of it is online. Court documents, depositions, motions, police interviews, trial coverage, etc. etc. etc. So this case has taken on a life of its own. In the past few weeks, I’ve discovered that there is live coverage of the trial daily, a la the O.J. Simpson debacle; there are discussion forums that talk extensively about this trial, and there are blogs solely devoted to this case.

I read a lot. A LOT. This Casey/Caylee Anthony story is more interesting and more gripping than the best mystery/crime books—both fiction and non-fiction—that I’ve ever read. My mother always said that fact was stranger than fiction. Forgive me while I digress for a moment. If you want to know which books I’m thinking of, the ones that I consider the best in their class, they include the following:

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi (non-fiction)

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (non-fiction)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (non-fiction)

The Blooding by Joseph Wambaugh (non-fiction)

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Travers (fiction--probably out of print)

The Detective by Roderick Thorp (fiction—out of print, but worth the trouble of finding it)

True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne (fiction)

The Deep Blue Good-Bye and later, Cinnamon Skin by John D. MacDonald (fiction)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (trilogy) by John le Carre (fiction)

I’m not going to provide links to all those books. Any book you can’t find on Amazon, you can find on Abebooks. In my opinion, none of the books published so far about Casey Anthony’s case are any good.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I don’t—for a second—want anyone to think I am minimizing the gravity of this case. Not at all. I think this story is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. This story is not light-hearted titillation. It’s a story of hope, death, conflict, revenge?, shattered lives, and forgotten dreams. I don’t follow this case only because Nancy Grace screeches about it nightly. In fact, I don’t watch Nancy Grace if I can help it; I follow it because it’s hang-on-to-your-seat unbelievable.

If you would like to learn more about this case, below are the websites I recommend in order of importance. But I must warn you. When you start reading about the case, you’ll feel like you walked into the middle of a movie. Just keep at it, and eventually things will start to make sense.

The Hinky Meter, a blog written by someone who attends the court proceedings almost daily. The best most comprehensive, well-organized, and easy-to-navigate information that I’ve found about the case. There is also a discussion forum.

Web Sleuths, A very busy discussion forum on this crime and other high-profile crimes as well.

Richard Hornsby's Blog, a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando who has arguably the best lawyer-written blog about the case. Can get somewhat technical, but it is mostly engaging, literate, articulate, and occasionally witty. He’s also a real live person—I emailed him and got an email back, which I didn’t expect. He gets extra points for that.

WFTV, Bill Schaeffer is a well-known Florida criminal defense lawyer who is a commentator for WFTV. He also writes a blog but doesn’t update it as much as he should (as if I should talk). Bill is intelligent, soft-spoken with a kindly manner, and is easy to listen to (and read). Richard Hornsby and Bill Schaeffer do not always agree on courtroom strategy which is why it’s worth reading both of their blogs.

The JB Mission, An unusual blog, worth taking a look at. This blog takes the idea “innocent until proven guilty” seriously……perhaps to a fault. I don’t agree with everything said, but it’s thoughtful and interesting.

Marinade Dave, No article on following the Casey Anthony case is complete without a mention of MarinadeDave (Knechel). Dave Knechel is a local. He lives in Orlando and has been following and blogging about this case for years. Dave’s claim to fame is that he was inadvertently central to Judge Strickland having to recuse himself from the case. His blog is not my personal favorite; but he merits a nod, and I have read all his blog entries on this case. I emailed him and got no reply—2 anti-points for him.

Live coverage of the trial is available all over the internet. I watch it over the net because there are no commercial interruptions. I watch it here on WESH because there’s a picture-in-picture. There’s the big camera on the main courtroom action and also another camera on Casey, so you can watch them both at the same time. This site also has a running Twitter feed, so you can also read what other people are saying. Of special interest are the tweets coming from those inside the courtroom.

Before closing, I have to mention that there are a lot of “fired up” individuals following this case, and there have been some flame wars over Casey Anthony commentary. I “manage” my comments. I’m delighted to get (and print) your comments whether you agree with me or disagree with me. However, I will not print any comments that are rude, vulgar, and/or mean-spirited.

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  • Wow, that is really interesting. Thanks Cynthia, I love your blog.

    By Blogger Fred, At June 7, 2011 at 8:04 PM  

  • I really enjoyed this blogpost mom!! a pleasure to read!! even though i am almost in the "chilean mine" category, you have peaked (or is it perked?) my interest in this exciting trial... keep up the posts!!

    By Blogger David, At June 8, 2011 at 5:10 PM  

  • Hey, David! Actually, it's "piqued" but I got your drift. Yeah, I guess you are in the Chilean mine category. Glad you're keeping up--love you, Mom

    By Blogger Cynthia White, At June 8, 2011 at 7:00 PM  

  • I think this is a good blog. I have been keeping up and watching faithfully. It bothers me that people say that its only a high profile case because she is a little white girl! really? What does that have to do with the fact that a two year old has lost her life! As far as the case in general it bothers me a lot. I wish that it would be over already because she needs to face her reality. You described Baez perfectly. As far as people that have once been apart of her defense team or previous prosecutors in general, I feel they have a one track mind in some cases when it comes to the trial. I wish they would realize that the jury is common people so when they complain about others commenting certain things Casey is doing, how do they not know that's exactly what the jury is thinking. Its possible to have a one track mind in this case but the bottom line is her crying and tearing up now has nothing to do with the fact that Caylee was left in the woods. There's no excuse for that, she knew she was dead so how can she justify that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 10, 2011 at 9:58 AM  

  • This Comment is from Colleen, and old friend of mine:

    Have you ever been to a Twitter party? I've never. If you're intrigued, Sara Moulton (a public figure) posted that she's the Celebrity Chef Guest for one on blueberries next week. If you're interested, and haven't been to a twitter party, there are details on http://saramoulton.com/. We could both attend and see what it's like, and maybe pick up some new blueberry recipes, and share ours."

    By Blogger Cynthia White, At June 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM  

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