Casey Anthony, the 25-year-old mother charged with killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony, was found not guilt today in a verdict that nearly no one saw coming. Given the media’s constant speculation that Casey was eventually going up against the death penalty, the pictures of her partying and getting tattooed after her daughter’s disappearance, and the outrageous lies spun by her defense, it seemed to be an an open and shut case. But regardless of how obvious it was that Casey Anthony was a neglectful mother, the prosecution failed to convince the jury that Casey Anthony was a murderer.
From the beginning, the prosecution’s case was driven entirely by circumstantial evidence. There were never any witnesses who could successfully link Casey to her daughter’s murder and forensic evidence was “tenuous,” to quote The New York Times. Vapor analysis, which according to the prosecution proved there to have been a dead body in the trunk of Casey’s car, is considered controversial for not being 100% accurate. Nate Rawlings, who has been cover the Casey Anthony trial case extensively for TIME, remarks that although vapor analysis isn’t “junk science,” it’s not quite ready to be put in a court of law.
A big part of the prosecution’s argument was that Casey Anthony put her daughter to sleep with chloroform before storing her in the trunk of her car. But despite that someone in the Anthony home searched “chloroform” on the family computer, there were never any traces of DNA, solid signs of chloroform, or bodily decomposition inside Casey’s trunk. Because Caylee’s body was too badly decomposed at the time of discovery, it is also unknown how exactly the child died placing further doubt in the jury’s mind as to who may have killed the child.
The prosecution also failed to put Casey at the home computer at the time the homemade chloroform searches were made, as well as confirm that she was anywhere near her daughter’s dead body. And despite the multitude of lies that she and her family put together to reframe the case into larger narrative about child molestation, incest, and abuse, Casey was unsuccessfully proven to be the killer of Caylee. All evidence required the jurors to make some sort of a mental leap considering the many holes left by the prosecution.
Casey’s image as a bad mother who partied excessively may have done a lot to garner media attention, but her reputation alone was not enough to convict her of murder. And while Casey was proven guilty of providing false information to the police, there is still no one to be held accountable for the death of Caylee Marie Anthony.