There has been no shortage of media coverage on this case, so my piece takes a different tack. The title of this article is quite deliberate, in that the victim in this case—two-year-old Caylee—received neither justice nor sufficient attention.
Rather, there was an unseemly media feeding frenzy that took full advantage of defense counsel’s lurid revelations, both real and imagined, regarding mother Casey’s white trash lifestyle. Amazingly, the prosecution swallowed the bait and devoted far too much time to painting the defendant as a scumbag—a charge happily stipulated by the defense. Let me assure you that the most astonished people in the court room, upon hearing the verdict, were the defense counsel.
Caring little that proving first degree murder would be impossible without forensic evidence, the prosecution also failed to convince the jury of the obvious circumstantial nature of the case (courtesy of the Washington Examiner‘s Gregory Kane):
- Defendant is a proven liar
- Defendant’s kid goes missing
- Defendant reports kid missing after 31 days
- Kid is found dead
- Defendant bears some responsibility
For their part, the jury expected a TV-style forensic case, also caring little that given the state of the corpse, there could be no useful forensic evidence. What was more stupid and pathetic? The jurors claiming that no cause of death was established, or the prosecution not instructing the jury that this would be impossible?
It is most ironic that a generation ago, a TV-style case was nearly always based on circumstantial evidence. Although most Perry Mason perps confessed on the stand, the case was always made based on the destruction of alibis. And, a generation before that, nearly all Agatha Christie murder mysteries were solved the same way.
As people familiar with true crime are only too well aware, forensic evidence is not available in many crime scenes, and even when it is, there is no value without a suspect. In the Anthony case, there was a suspect, but no forensic evidence. However, there was a mountain of circumstantial evidence. That used to be enough for some sort of homicide conviction. Has the standard now changed?
A number of retired cops have told me that shoddy police work likely delayed the discovery of Caylee’s body. Of course, that would never have happened on television, but in real life, we are dealing with real people who might not always respond to calls about corpse sightings with the greatest alacrity.
Not surprisingly, a number of legal academics—including Butler Shaffer, in an especially nasty piece—have praised the jury, and have attacked the naysayers.
As I told Shaffer in an e-mail exchange…
The outrage over this case, which apparently escapes you, derives from the fundamental lack of concern regarding justice for the victim, coupled with the strangely self-satisfied attitude of the jury, applying their precious analysis to the case. The bigger picture is that even though so much “progressive” legislation is supposedly based on our concern for “the children,” in fact we value them not at all—and this was writ large in the Anthony case.
We can take solace in this: Casey, like OJ before her, will surely be back in the “system” before too long.