Casey Anthony: Raw emotions over the crime and punishment roil Facebook

Nowhere is the debate over the Casey Anthony verdict more visceral than on Facebook. Comments range from thoughtful analysis to blatant and obscene threats.

Joe Burbank/AP
Casey Anthony talks with her attorneys, Cheney Mason (l.) and Dorothy Clay Sims before the start of her sentencing hearing at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., July 7.

Casey Anthony’s acquittal on charges that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter has touched off an impassioned debate over whether the “reasonable doubt” expressed by the jurors was, in fact, reasonable.

On one side are those who insist that Ms. Anthony must have murdered her daughter because of the circumstances of the toddler’s disappearance and the later discovery of her remains. They suggest the justice system has failed by allowing someone they believe is guilty to walk free.

Others say state prosecutors failed to present enough evidence to prove Caylee Anthony’s death was an intentional killing rather than an accident. Those on this side say the justice system worked by enforcing a high standard that requires the government to satisfy its burden of proof before it may imprison or seek to execute someone.

Meanwhile, Orange County officials said late Thursday that they had recalculated Anthony’s sentence and that she would be released on Sunday, July 17, rather than July 13 as announced earlier.

The announcement did little to alter the harsh tone of the continuing debate.

Nowhere is the discussion more raw and visceral than on Facebook. By the crude measure of this website, those who find fault with the verdict overwhelmingly outnumber those who support the jury’s conclusions. Nearly 300,000 people have endorsed a Facebook page entitled: “100000 People Who Think The Casey Anthony Verdict Was Wrong.”

Some 32,000 people have indicated they “like” the Facebook page “I hate Casey Anthony.” And 118,000 people support a page entitled: “1000000 People Who Wanna … Slap Casey Anthony.”

In contrast, 617 individuals endorsed the “Support Casey Anthony” page.

Even the lawyers in the case are the subject of a Facebook face-off. Prosecuting attorney Jeff Ashton has 539 admirers on the “Jeff Ashton is My Hero” page, while the “Casey Anthony’s Defense Team Casey Support PAGE” has 183 supporters.

The comments on such pages range from thoughtful analysis to blatant and obscene threats. Some commenters vow that Anthony will be targeted, while others explore issues such as the responsibilities of jurors.

Here is a sample of Facebook comments – both for and against Anthony, and pro and con in terms of the verdict.

“Caylee was alive for 1046 days and that’s how long Casey is in jail for. The day of the verdict lightning struck a tree and fell over the exact spot where Caylee was found.... Soo creepy.”

“Don’t you all understand that the prosecution proved nothing. If Casey was convicted for being an idiot then it could happen to any of us. If we allow the courts to convict because we hate someone for something we think they did without evidence, or circumstantial evidence, then we open ourselves up to prosecution on the same terms!”

“They should send her to Iran for a good old fashion stoning.”

“Casey should know there are lots of us who support her. She is free and I am glad she will be able to get on with her life.”

“Forced sterilization prior to release might be effective for this one.... Her lawyer is afraid for her safety, what a wise man.”

“All of us are here because we feel the state did not prove their case. It’s not because we don’t feel for the child.... We do care a child has died.”

“Casey thinks she is free because she won her case and won’t be in prison, but she will never be free. Almost everybody in America HATES her. This will never escape her.... Her life will be a prison.”

“I think Cheney Mason hit the nail on the head when he called the media ‘incompetent talking heads.’ Trial by media is unjust and against constitutional rights. This is a country where we are supposed to be innocent until PROVEN guilty.”

“This jury was too lazy. They never connected the dots or reviewed any testimony or evidence.... Another murder goes unsolved. The judicial system needs an overhaul or professional jurors.”

“She was up against terrible odds with the complete character assassination done by the media. It is a miracle that those twelve jurors used a clear and level head.”

“I’m sure they can prove that little [C]aylee didn’t put herself in the garbage bags.”

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