Matt Towery

I know, and I get it. In my mind -- and this is just my opinion -- Casey Anthony had some involvement in the death of her child Caylee. And in the weeks following the tragedy, Casey displayed behavior that was both bizarre and callous beyond measure.

Most of the nation is furious with a Florida jury's verdict of not guilty on the charges involving the death of Caylee Anthony.

Having defended a capital murder case, one in which a 17-year-old was facing the possibility of a death sentence, I have a sadly informed perspective when it comes to locally or nationally prominent death penalty trials.

Some readers might be unaware that the jurors in the Anthony murder case came from Pinellas County, where you'll find St. Petersburg and Clearwater, and which is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the location of the Anthony trial in mid-state Florida.

Because Florida has so many media outlets, details of the Anthony case had not been covered extensively in Pinellas County. That meant the jurors were not as aware of the case as one might think. So the jurors who viewed the testimony and evidence submitted at trial probably missed much of the media barrage that painted such a revolting portrait of Casey Anthony -- the photos of her acting nonchalant about the murders, her jailhouse conversations and so on.

I won't go into every point of the trial. But I'm forced to say that my view of the proceedings closely mirrored the views of alternate jurors who have spoken since the trial, and who said that they more or less agreed with the verdict.

It actually was not the defense that faced an uphill battle, but the prosecution. The prosecution had plenty of evidence: the remains of a body; duct tape over what appeared to be the mouth of the child's skeletal remains; some evidence of a computer search for chloroform; forensic tests that showed at least a trace of chloroform in the car used by Anthony; a lingering odor in that car that could have been the smell of decaying flesh; and of course Anthony's callous behavior in the month or so the child was missing.

I viewed this case as something like a roomful of suspended objects, such as you'll find in the house of horrors at an amusement park -- there was never any direct causal link between all these strange revelations and Casey Anthony.

There will be many efforts to place blame on the jurors. One person interviewed after the verdict said that people from Pinellas County are not as technologically advanced as those in the Orlando area. That is sheer lunacy. Others will blame various actions by Judge Belvin Perry. In my opinion, Perry is one of the first judges I have seen to handle such a controversial murder case without trying to insert himself into the case or become a star as a result of doing his job. He was topnotch in the trial.

Based on televised reports, there is apparently plenty of dislike for lead defense counsel Jose Baez. While he may have made mistakes, his strategy appeared to work. He advanced as an alternative explanation for the crime the notion that the child drowned in a pool and that the Anthony family then worked to cover up the incident -- as opposed to a premeditated act of cold-blooded murder by a mother.

At the same time, I have nothing but praise for the prosecution. Their arguments were strong as they could have been under the circumstances. I have to agree with famed TV legal pundit Nancy Grace when she said that the devil was dancing following this verdict.

But I also have to say that the judicial system did not fall apart. Rather, it was stretched to its greatest limit when a jury of Casey Anthony's peers could not find beyond a reasonable doubt what they probably suspected in their hearts.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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