A bankruptcy judge ruled Tuesday that the two defamation suits against Casey Anthony be heard in bankruptcy court and not in Orange County Circuit. The ruling was a small win for Anthony, whose attorneys had asked that the lawsuits be treated as a federal matter.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May’s ruling, issued at a hearing in Tampa, is the latest step in two ongoing defamation suits brought by Zenaida Gonzalez and Roy Kronk against Casey Anthony, claiming that the repeated use of their names in the 2011 trial has associated them with the high-profile murder and smeared their reputation, The Orlando Sentinel reported.
The cases against the former defendant in one of America’s most sensational murder trials had been proceeding in Orange County, until Ms. Anthony filed for bankruptcy protection in January, citing substantial accumulated debt incurred from the hunt for her missing daughter and the ensuing six-week trial about two years ago.
Kronk discovered the remains of Ms. Anthony’s toddler, Caylee Anthony, when he was a meter reader in Orange County, and says that Ms. Anthony’s lawyers suggested during the trial that he was somehow involved in the girl’s murder.
Gonzalez, a Florida resident, says that her reputation was damaged after Ms. Anthony said in court that a nanny with a similar name was the last person to be seen with her daughter and likely kidnapped her. Resulting confusion subjected her to public humiliation, she said.
Both plaintiffs are suing for financial compensation.
Ms. Anthony, who was acquitted in 2011 of killing her two-year-old daughter, has largely kept out of public view. But her life appears to have become an enormously difficult one. She filed for bankruptcy in Florida in January, claiming about $1,000 in assets and $792,000 in liabilities.
Her debts include some $500,000 for attorney fees incurred during the trail; $145,660 for the Orange County Sheriff's Office for a judgment covering investigative fees and costs related to the case; $68,540 for the Internal Revenue Service for taxes, interest and penalties; and $61,505 for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for court costs.
Court papers list her as unemployed, with no recent income.
Anthony did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, and her whereabouts and circumstances remain unknown to the public.