Two days after being acquitted of charges that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony was sent back to jail on Thursday to serve out the remaining six days of her sentence for lying to police.
She is to be released next Wednesday, July 13.
Chief Judge Belvin Perry sentenced Ms. Anthony to the maximum possible term – four years in the county jail – for four separate lies she told detectives in 2008. The four-year sentence was reduced by the amount of time Anthony has already spent behind bars in pretrial detention.
The return of Anthony to jail – even for a few days – may help defuse the anger and disbelief of many trial-watchers who had long felt she was guilty of murder and must be punished harshly to bring a measure of justice for Caylee Anthony.
Jurors are beginning to speak about the case and defend their decision that Anthony was not guilty of murder or involvement in her daughter’s death.
Juror Jennifer Ford told ABC News on Wednesday that the verdict was not an expression of the jury’s belief that Casey Anthony was innocent. She said prosecutors did not present enough evidence to prove her involvement in the toddler’s death.
“If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be,” she said.
Prior to Thursday’s sentencing, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Orlando, Fla., courthouse displaying signs that read “No Justice for Caylee,” and “Arrest the Jury.” They voiced their opposition to the not guilty verdicts and expressed concern that Anthony might walk out of the courthouse on Thursday a free woman.
It did not happen.
Instead, Judge Perry agreed with prosecutors that she should serve the maximum sentence.
“Just as the jury spoke loud and clear on counts one, two, and three [involving murder and aggravated child abuse], by their verdict they also spoke loud and clear on the remaining counts,” he said.
Although Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, the jury convicted her of telling four lies to detectives who responded to a report of a missing toddler.
“As a result of those four separate and distinct lies, law enforcement devoted a great deal of time, energy, and manpower looking for young Caylee Marie Anthony,” Perry said. “This search for her went on from July through December  over several months.”
As defense attorney Jose Baez conceded during the trial, Anthony knew all along that her daughter was dead. Defense attorneys have not said whether she is the one who dumped the body in a wooded area a quarter-mile from the family home.
The judge’s action sent Anthony back to a six-by-eight-foot cell at the Orange County Jail where she has been held in protective custody for the past 2-1/2 years. Protective custody means that she must remain in her cell 23 hours a day and is granted one hour a day to shower, go to the recreation yard, watch television, or get a book.
She is held in an excluded, higher security section of the jail because of her notoriety and because of allegations that she murdered her child. Defendants in such cases can become a target for inmate attacks, officials say.
Jail officials say that throughout her incarceration, Anthony has been a model prisoner who maintained a pleasant attitude and demeanor.
Also on Thursday, prosecutors asked Judge Perry to retain jurisdiction over the Anthony case to permit the state to pursue an effort to force Anthony to pay a portion of the state’s costs to investigate and prosecute the case.
Invoices have not yet been filed. Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick said the cost issue was “not intended to be punitive.”
Defense attorneys had hoped their client might be set free immediately on Thursday. They argued that the four charges of providing false information to law enforcement officers all stemmed from the same interactions with detectives on July 16, 2008.
In essence, they said, it was all part of the same lie. To punish Anthony for the same lie four times would violate the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy clause, barring prosecution for the same offense twice, they argued.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick said each lie was a single and separate criminal act that caused significant consequences for investigators.
“Each was intended to mislead law enforcement and send them … on a wild goose chase,” she said.
The last four charges in Anthony’s seven-count indictment focused on false statements she gave to detectives who were responding to a report that a small child was missing.
Specifically, Anthony was charged with attempting to mislead Detective Yuri Melich of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office by telling him and other investigators that she was employed at Universal Studios in Orlando, when, in reality, she was unemployed.
She lied to investigators when she told them that she had left Caylee with a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez at an apartment complex in Orlando. That statement was also false.
She falsely told investigators that she had informed two individuals, Jeffrey Hopkins and Juliette Lewis, of Caylee’s disappearance. The statement was false, and investigators believe Juliette Lewis does not exist.
The last charge was that Anthony told investigators that she had received a phone call from Caylee the prior day at about noon. The statement was false. By that time, Caylee had already been dead nearly a month.
The false statements to law enforcement officials were significant because they diverted investigators from searching for Caylee’s remains and forced them to search for a child who was already dead. The false statements also contributed to what became a nationwide search for a living toddler and prompted a flood of tips and leads.
What happens after Anthony is released from jail is unclear. She is reportedly receiving offers for book and movie deals. There’s speculation that she may change her name.
She is a high school dropout who last worked in 2006. Also unclear is whether she will seek to contact her parents and brother.
The defense at her murder trial included charges that she was sexually molested by her father and brother and that her mother left the ladder on the above-ground backyard pool, setting the stage for what defense attorneys said was Caylee’s accidental drowning in the pool.
In the defense’s view of the case, Casey Anthony was a victim not a perpetrator.
Prosecutors presented a different version of events. Their theory at trial was that Anthony had grown tired of being a mother tied constantly to a toddler. So she decided to use chloroform to drug Caylee, then pressed duct tape to her mouth and nose to suffocate her.
She allegedly hid the body for several days in the trunk of her car before dumping it in a wooded area near the family home.
During the month-long trial, the prosecution and defense called nearly 100 witnesses and entered more than 400 pieces of evidence. The jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days.
The jury of five men and seven women rejected every charge related to Caylee’s death, from first-degree capital murder to manslaughter. They found Anthony not guilty on all counts.
In public comments afterward some jurors are saying their verdict reflects a lack of convincing evidence presented by state prosecutors, not a statement that Anthony is innocent.
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