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Casey Anthony free, but in another kind of prison

Will Casey Anthony's notoriety over the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, bring some measure of wealth and security, or will it, instead, condemn her to a different kind of prison?

By Staff writer / July 17, 2011

Casey Anthony is released from a Florida jail early Sunday morning. She was convicted of four counts of giving false information to law enforcement but found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and child abuse in connection with the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee.

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Casey Anthony, the Florida mother acquitted of killing her two-year-old daughter, left an Orlando county jail early Sunday a free woman.

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Her departure raises a new question in a case already riddled with unsolved mysteries: Will her notoriety bring her some measure of wealth and security, or will it, instead, condemn her to a different kind of prison?

Although released from jail, Ms. Anthony is embarking on an uncertain future, facing substantial obstacles to reclaim a normal life. Commentators say she will likely be offered million-dollar opportunities for interviews, book deals, and movie rights. But some have also called her the most hated woman in America.

IN PICTURES: Key players in the Casey Anthony trial

Prosecutors are seeking to force her to compensate the State of Florida for much of the cost of the murder investigation, she is named in several pending civil lawsuits, and numerous threats have been issued against her by would-be vigilantes supposedly seeking justice on behalf of her daughter, Caylee.

Anthony left the jail shortly after midnight under tight security in the company of defense attorney Jose Baez. Analysts speculate that she will try to resettle someplace far from the Orlando area and perhaps change her appearance.

The much-anticipated release is only the latest twist in a case that has captivated much of the country.

The action brings to a close a three-year ordeal that began in July 2008 when Anthony’s mother, Cindy, called 911 to report that her granddaughter, Caylee, had been missing for a month and that her daughter’s car smelled like death.

A real-life whodunit

Anthony’s high-profile murder trial offered a real-life whodunit involving a mother accused of using chloroform and duct tape to end the life of her toddler daughter. From the start, the case defied easy explanation. At trial, everyone who knew her testified that Casey was a loving, caring mother.

Even more inexplicable was Casey’s seeming carefree conduct during the 31 days following Caylee’s death before Cindy’s 911 call. Casey stayed with her boyfriend, went to night clubs, took shopping excursions, and got a tattoo that proclaimed “Bella Vita,” beautiful life in Italian. At the same time, she was telling her mother and her friends that Caylee was being cared for by a nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. The problem was, the nanny didn’t exist. It was all a lie.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but they lacked any direct evidence demonstrating how Caylee died. They also lacked any direct evidence linking Anthony to the death.

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