Should Casey Anthony have to reimburse state for its failed case against her?
Casey Anthony should have to pay more than $500,000 in prosecution costs, the state tells the judge, asserting that the case was 'put in motion' by her lies. Her lawyers decry 'sour grapes.'
Casey Anthony’s lawyer told a Florida judge on Friday that it was “sour grapes” for prosecutors to try to force his client to pay more than $500,000 in costs associated with her murder trial after the young mother was acquitted of involvement in the death of her two-year-old daughter.Skip to next paragraph
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Defense Lawyer Cheney Mason accused the State Attorney’s Office of trying to punish Ms. Anthony by requiring her to pay the full cost of the murder investigation and prosecution – even though a jury in July declared her not guilty of murder.
“The state wants to charge her the entire cost of prosecution, not the legitimate expenses related to the convicted counts,” Mr. Mason said during a hearing in Orlando. “That has nothing to do with justice,” he said. “It has everything to do with [public] outrage and sour grapes.”
IN PICTURES: Key players in the Casey Anthony murder trial
Mason urged Chief Judge Belvin Perry to limit any financial assessment against his client to expenses directly related to the only counts for which she was convicted – four misdemeanor charges of lying to a law enforcement officer.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick told the judge that Anthony should pay all investigative and prosecution costs in the murder case because it was her actions that forced the state to investigate and prosecute.
“But for Ms. Anthony’s lying to law enforcement at the inception of this investigation, there would be no cost of investigation to law enforcement and there would be no cost of prosecution,” she said. “Every expense regardless of how [defense] counsel wants to belittle it is related causally, if not directly, to the machinery put in motion by Ms. Anthony,” the prosecutor said.
“We are not trying to assuage anyone’s outrage at the verdict in this case,” Ms. Burdick said. The state’s expenses would have never been incurred “if Ms. Anthony ever had it in her to tell the truth,” she added.
At issue in the hearing was a Florida law that allows prosecutors to seek reimbursement for investigative and other costs in cases resulting in a conviction. In most cases such assessments have been a token amount of a few hundred dollars.
The law requires a payment of no less than $50 per case involving a misdemeanor conviction and no less than $100 per case for a felony conviction. But the statute sets no upper limit for potential assessments.
“The court may set a higher amount upon a showing of sufficient proof of higher costs incurred,” the law says in part.
Although Ms. Anthony, who was not present in court Friday, is listed as indigent and is being represented by state-appointed and taxpayer-funded counsel, many analysts believe she is poised to cash-in on her notoriety with possible lucrative book and movie deals, interviews, and photo spreads.
The issue facing Judge Perry is how to properly apportion the state’s costs as they relate to the four misdemeanor charges for which she was convicted.
Do the four misdemeanors open the door to a half-million dollar assessment? Or must the judge narrowly limit costs to that portion of the investigation dealing with Anthony’s lies?
Anthony’s false statements in July 2008 contributed to a massive search for her missing daughter, Caylee. The effort included both law enforcement officials and scores of volunteers. Caylee’s skeletal remains were discovered in December 2008 in a wooded area near the Anthony home.