It’s the Fourth of July 2011, and the Casey Anthony Jury is out. I have been following this matter only superficially, and asking others their opinions on the case. Here is my quick “two-sense” (sic.)
I am not going to tell you what I think the jury should do (Okay, maybe I am… a little), but I do want to address those people , essentially a majority of those I have spoken with, who believe that simply because a cause of death cannot be established by a medical examiner Casey Anthony should walk. Really?!? I believe that this is Defense Attorney rhetoric, and weak rhetoric at best and yet it seems to be working.
The Prosecutor’s case against Casey Anthony is in fact circumstantial, but circumstantial evidence can be very strong and it is strong here. Casey’s behavior in the 31 day period Caylee (Caylee’s body) could not be located, the proof that she had access to the duct tape and chloroform, and that no reasonable alternative theory to explain her behavior has been demonstrated, are enough. (An oversimplification of the case, yes, but you get my point.)
YES, I said it! — “no reasonable alternative theory” to explain her behavior and the other circumstantial evidence has been proposed by the defense in this trial. And now many of you, especially my attorney readers, are calling me silly and asking themselves whether I think that the Defense had its own burden of proof. “Andrew, that’s impermissible burden shifting, and violates Casey Anthony’s 5th Amendment right to remain silent, and to have the State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” I know all this, but let’s talk practical not legal. The State did prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they did it with strong circumstantial evidence.
The State set forth a strong prima facie case, with evidence of a callous Casey Anthony establishing her motive, opportunity, and a whole bunch of other circumstantial evidence that she murdered her daughter.
Legally, the State’s case is sufficient to support a conviction and withstand appellate challenge. Meaning- as a practical matter- a jury conviction, even on First Degree Murder, can properly stand.
With such strong circumstantial evidence, the jury needed to hear a reasonable alternative theory, and they probably needed to hear it from Casey Anthony herself. Again, her testimony was a practical necessity but certainly not a legal requirement. Simply put, she was not required to testify and under the law it shouldn’t be used against her, but her silence is not going to help either. And the State did enough, even if cause of death could not be determined, the State proved that Caylee was murdered and that Casey is responsible. The Defense on the other hand just used words, stating an unreasonable alternative drowning theory, while providing no sustainable proof. If convicted, the pundits will likely look at the alternative drowning theory as doing more harm than good, since it really was unsustainable -not providing a reasonable alternative and therefore not providing reasonable doubt- and that the Defense would have been better off never going down that road, especially since the State obliterated the drowning theory on rebuttal with George Anthony’s suicide note, etc.
Those are my thoughts. We shall see soon.