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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?

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Caylee’s remains were not discovered until six months after her death. By then the body was a skeleton.

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Because of the high level of media coverage of the gruesome case, a jury was selected in Clearwater, Fla., and sequestered in an Orlando hotel for the duration of the trial. After 11 hours of deliberations, the jury found Anthony not guilty of any involvement in Caylee’s death. But the panel convicted her of four misdemeanor counts of lying to police.

She was sentenced to the maximum four years in jail. With credit for time served in pretrial detention and for good conduct, Anthony was ordered released on July 17.

Many trial watchers outraged

The acquittal and early release sparked outrage among many trial watchers who had concluded that Anthony was guilty and that the justice system was allowing her to get away with murder. Other commentators said the jury system requires prosecutors to prove each case beyond a reasonable doubt and that it is the jury’s responsibility to hold the state to that high standard.

Although she has already served her full sentence, defense attorney Baez is appealing Anthony’s four convictions for lying to law enforcement officers. The appeal will be heard by Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals.

If successful, it would head off efforts by the state attorney’s office to force Anthony to pay the costs of the investigation and prosecution.

Baez also submitted a motion to find Anthony indigent and to have the state pay for the appeal.

Some legal analysts have suggested that Baez undercut any appeal when he admitted in his opening statement to the jury at trial that his client lied often during the period following Caylee’s death. But the appeal will likely focus on the context in which the statements were made rather than their truth or falsity.

Three of the four false statements were elicited from Anthony during a recorded interrogation in which detectives encouraged her to confess that Caylee had died as a result of an accident. The interrogation took place in a conference room at Universal Studios, shortly after Anthony admitted that she did not work at the theme park as she had earlier – and falsely – claimed.

The recorded statement was entered as evidence against her at trial and played for the jury. One potential issue on appeal is whether police should have given Anthony Miranda warnings before starting the tape-recorded interrogation. Miranda warnings include the advice to a criminal suspect that she has a right to consult a lawyer and the right to remain silent, and that anything she says can, and will, be used against her in court.

The question on appeal would be whether Anthony, a high-school dropout, would have known of these rights and would have understood that she was free to end the interrogation at any time by simply leaving the room. Police are allowed to elicit voluntary statements from suspects and may later use those statements as evidence at trial. But police are not permitted to detain someone and use the detention to coerce incriminating statements for later use at a trial.


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