My mom called me after the Casey Anthony verdict came down this Tuesday. She was pissed off.
“We’ve been OJ’d again!” she cried.
This has become the default reaction every time a high profile case turns out the opposite way common sense says it should. I don’t think any one, even Crazy Casey, actually believes she didn’t kill that baby. But the fact that she got away with murder is not an indication that justice doesn’t work. It’s an indication that the prosecution sucked.
I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the whole trial. I had things to do during the day that required I not stay glued to HLN. What I did see was the last weekend or so of summation. From that alone I can see why Casey Anthony was let free.
The facts of the case were not that difficult. Young mother kills baby in an attempt to regain the freedom she lost with motherhood. There was plenty of evidence to get the job done. A decomposing hair found in the trunk of Casey’s car, a baby blanket taken from inside her house, pictures of a hot body contest entered just days after Caylee went missing and a tattoo from the same period ushering in the “bella vita” that was about to start. If that wasn’t enough, there was the three pieces of duct tape, place over Caylee’s nose and mouth that could have no rational explanation besides an attempt to put her down for good. All of this was lost in summation.
Instead of laying out a clear story the prosecution presented a confusing mess of facts. As I listened, it sounded as though they were trying to use every piece of testimony to make every little fact fit within their story. This approach is generally counter productive. In summation less is often more. Rather than give the jury a clear picture of what happened, why Casey had to be the one who did it, and why the jury needed to find her guilty, the prosecution jumped from point to point, grabbing facts here and there but failing to weave them in to the bigger picture.
After that, the defenses job was easy.
To their credit the jury did their job. Those who spoke about the process, and at least one has, made clear that they were heartbroken when they decided to hand down a not guilty verdict. In their gut they knew that Casey had done it. But gut instinct is not the law. As much as they wanted to see Casey punished, the prosecution had not carried their burden. That may not be a satisfying result to those who followed the trial but that is justice.