ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —It’s been almost five years since Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder charges, but her name is far from forgotten.
Anthony was accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony. Prosecutors are now speaking about the case that made worldwide headlines.
It all started July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony’s mother, Cindy, made the infamous call to 911, saying her daughter’s car smelled like a dead body and that Caylee was missing. Casey was arrested just one day later for the first time. She was indicted on first-degree murder charges in October 2008. Caylee’s remains were found on Dec. 11 of that year, not far from the Anthonys’ home. Casey’s murder trial began in May 2011. Then, on July 5, Casey was found not guilty on all charges except for lying to investigators.
WESH TV’s Michelle Meredith sat down with two of the prosecutors who made the case against Casey. Meredith asked Jeffrey Ashton if he thinks Central Florida will see another trial similar to the Casey Anthony trial. “I certainly hope not,” Ashton said.
Meredith asked the prosecution team, Ashton and Frank George, how the trial affected them professionally. The trial elevated Ashton’s career. He ran for state attorney and won, and later wrote a book that landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list. “For me, trying to make sense of it,” Ashton said.
Ashton said he is trying to make sense of why the Casey Anthony trial became a social phenomenon. The prosecution has theories of its own, one dealing with emotions. “Casey Anthony is an easy person to hate,” Ashton said.
Another theory deals with looks. “One of the things that I have said about the case is that everybody involved in the case was photogenic,” Ashton said.
Casey Anthony lived with her middle-class parents in their middle-class neighborhood. “A large part of the population who are watching television saw people who could have been their neighbors or could have been them,” George said. “It was like it was made for TV,” Ashton said.
The trial was featured on the Internet, on TV and scrutinized nightly by info-tainment shows and attorneys gave play-by-plays. “And some of them were my friends and I didn’t even know it,” George said.
So, what would the prosecution team have done differently?
“When (defense attorney Jose) Baez’s book came out, he revealed that his forensic computer examiner had found on the Anthony computer that somebody, on the day that Caylee disappeared, had Googled fool-proof suffocation. That one piece of evidence that certainly would have been wonderful to have,” Ashton said.
The prosecution team also credits Casey Anthony for giving what they call a wonderful performance. “Well, Casey played it very well. She would sit in the courtroom and cry at all the right times. They would put her seat very low so she would look like a little girl,” Ashton said.
“The defense did a very good job of presenting her over the eight weeks the way she needed to be presented. As a vulnerable, small, scared young lady,” George said.
“When you heard her statements, she clearly is not afraid of anything,” Ashton said. It was a boldness that apparently paid off at the very end, when she was found not guilty.