Florida seeks to recoup $517,000 from Casey Anthony

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 02, 2011 7:53 PM
Florida seeks to recoup $517,000 from Casey Anthony

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A lawyer for Casey Anthony, the young mother acquitted of killing her toddler, accused prosecutors on Friday of being "sour grapes" for seeking to require her to pay back $517,000 spent investigating the child's disappearance.

"I think it is time (prosecutors) accept the fact that they lost this case," defense attorney Cheney Mason argued at a court hearing, adding that in his view the reimbursement request had "nothing to do with justice."

"It has to do with outrage. It has to do with sour grapes," he said.

But prosecutors said the state never would have incurred the expense of a three-year investigation and seven-week nationally televised trial in Orlando this summer if Anthony had only told the truth.

Anthony, 25, was acquitted in July of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, whose disappearance in 2008 sparked a nationwide search. At the time, Casey Anthony falsely claimed her daughter had been kidnapped by a nanny.

The toddler's skeletal remains were later found in woods near the Anthony family's home. Anthony's defense team argued at trial that Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family's backyard pool.

A jury found Anthony guilty of misdemeanor charges of lying to detectives during the investigation, and the state wants to recoup the costs of investigating the false kidnapping claim.

Judge Belvin Perry said he expected to rule by September 22.

ALL-OUT SEARCH

Prosecutor Linda Burdick argued that Anthony's lies had switched on the "machinery of law enforcement" in an expensive and all-out effort to find her missing daughter.

"Once Miss Anthony set that machinery in motion by lying, there was no turning back in the investigation. She, to this day, has not given any other information as to what happened to that child," Burdick said.

Mason said Anthony might be liable for some expenses between July 16, 2008, when she told investigators that Caylee was kidnapped, and September 30, 2008, when investigators concluded Caylee must be dead.

But the lawyer objected to costs incurred in 2010 and 2011 for depositions and expert witnesses, many of whom testified on the failed murder charge.

Burdick argued that efforts spent on the lying and murder charges were inextricably linked.

"Attempting to prove she was a murderer proved she was a liar," Burdick said.

Burdick and Mason told Perry there was no case law that would direct him on how to apportion costs on a defendant like Anthony who is found guilty of some charges but not on others.

Anthony, who has been declared indigent by the court, did not appear at the hearing. She is living in an undisclosed location while serving a year of probation over a 2010 check fraud case.

The Florida Department of Corrections released a report on Friday showing Anthony had complied a day earlier with a condition of her probation requiring her to appear at her probation office once a month.

Anthony told her probation officer she was not working, going to school or using alcohol or illegal drugs, according to the department.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)