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Casey Anthony ordered to reimburse state $97,000. How that still could rise.

Casey Anthony judge rejects a demand by prosecutors that more than $500,000 in investigative and prosecution costs be reimbursed. But he gives the sheriff's office a chance to revise its expenses.

By Staff writer / September 15, 2011

Casey Anthony stands for the arrival of the jury in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, in this June 9 file photo.

Joe Burbank/Reuters/File

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Casey Anthony, the Florida mother acquitted of involvement in the death of her two-year-old daughter, was ordered on Thursday to pay more than $97,000 to law enforcement agencies as compensation for their efforts to find the missing child.

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Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry rejected a demand by the State Attorney’s Office that Ms. Anthony be forced to pay more than $500,000 in investigative and prosecution costs.

Instead, the judge said he would assess costs only related to the missing persons portion of the investigation, when investigators believed Caylee Anthony might still be alive.

However he did leave the door open for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to revise upward its reported costs for the 30 sheriff’s office employees who worked on that portion of the investigation.

At Ms. Anthony’s month-long trial, Defense Attorney Jose Baez revealed that Caylee had been dead a full month before police were notified in July 2008 that she was missing. He told the jury that the toddler had accidentally drowned in the family’s swimming pool and Anthony panicked and tried to cover the death up rather than notify the authorities. The toddler’s skeletal remains were found in December 2008 in a wooded area a quarter mile from the Anthony home.

State prosecutors charged Anthony with first-degree murder in Caylee’s death and were seeking the death penalty.

The jury acquitted Anthony of all charges related to Caylee’s death. But the panel found her guilty of four misdemeanor counts of lying to police during the initial stages of the investigation.

The judge’s order was based on a little-known Florida statute that requires judges to assess investigative and prosecution costs whenever a state agency requests it. The statute mandates that convicted individuals be assessed no less than $50 per case for a misdemeanor conviction and no less than $100 per case for a felony conviction. The law does not establish an upper limit on a potential assessment.

It is unclear how often Florida judges have ordered defendants to repay the state $97,000 or more in investigative costs. In most cases that have reached appeals courts, the assessments have been token amounts of a couple hundred dollars.

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