Wordsmith Wednesday – Not Guilty

Yesterday, the verdict came down on the Casey Anthony trial. A nation was stunned as she was found not guilty of first degree murder even though she was found guilty of providing false information to the police.

The words “not guilty” are powerful ones. They can (and have) reduced people to tears of joy, disbelief, anger, and a whole host of other emotions.

My feelings on this explosive topic are varied. One thing I know for certain is that the defense attorneys did their job. All they had to do was create reasonable doubt. The prosecution had a far tougher job to do, because the burden of proof rested in their hands. In the end, they did not have enough solid evidence to convict. Everything they had was circumstantial.

In my opinion, with the evidence they had, they should not have tried for first degree murder on such a flimsy foundation. Granted, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that one ought to have a rock-solid case before going for a conviction that could lead to the death penalty. There should be no shadow of doubt when lives hang in the balance.

I don’t know what the prosecutors and police know. I don’t even know what the defense knew. All I know is what the media told me, and they tried and convicted Casey Anthony before she even got to the courtroom. Yes, what I was shown of her behavior was strange and off-putting. However, the jury found her not guilty. The jury found her innocent of first degree murder.

Was she responsible for her child’s death? I think so. Caylee was only two years old. Casey was wholly responsible for her and anything that happened to her. Was she guilty of premeditated and willful murder? The courts have decided not.

Via Wikipedia, here are the degrees of murder under U.S. law:

First Degree Murder is any murder that is willful and premeditated. Felony Murder is typically first degree.

Second Degree Murder is a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance.

Voluntary Manslaughter sometimes called a “Heat of Passion” murder, is any intentional killing that involved no prior intent to kill, and which was committed under such circumstances that would “cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed.” Both this and second degree murder are committed on the spot, but the two differ in the magnitude of the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, a bar fight that results in death would ordinarily constitute second degree murder. If that same bar fight stemmed from a discovery of infidelity, however, it may be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter stems from unintentional, but reckless or criminally negligent behavior. A drunk driving-related death is typically involuntary manslaughter. Note that the “unintentional” element here refers to the lack of intent to bring about the death. All three crimes above feature an intent to kill, whereas involuntary manslaughter is “unintentional,” because the killer did not intend for a death to result from his intentional actions.


With that knowledge, what are your thoughts on this case? What do the words “not guilty” mean to you? How did the media coverage color your opinion? Do you think Casey Anthony would have been found guilty of a lesser charge, such as involuntary manslaughter? What would have been your moment of reasonable doubt had you been on that jury, sequestered from the media and internet with only the evidence and the testimonies available to you?


  1. Anonymous said

    I agree Gigi

  2. I agree Gigi. IMO, the State overshot their charges against Casey. They’ve had the same evidence now for three years, and they knew there wasn’t a confirmed cause of death, and that this was not a death penalty case against Casey. I watched the State Prosecuter yesterday on television say they charged her correctly and that they have to accept the verdict. He has no regrets. I personally think he should have regrets.

    Casey may not have committed 1st degree murder, but she’s guilty – guilty of covering up her daughter’s death, guilty of disposing of her daughter’s body, guilty of lying to the police officers and other authorities involved. My guy had a great idea – make her repay the State of Florida for all of the salaries of the men and women who she led on a wild goose chase for those 6 months. How about that?

    The judge gave her another year this morning for the 4th guilty verdict – and she gets out next week. So much for that year…..

    • Gigi Salem said

      Here’s the problem… the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. She was only found guilty of four counts of providing false information. Under the law (of government, not media) she is innocent of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child. The problem in this case is that we (as a nation) want to see somebody swing for what happened to that baby girl. We are angry that the courts have denied us the blood we wanted after the media promised us a feeding frenzy.

      The fact remains that we don’t get to pass judgement on Casey Anthony’s guilt or innocence. That is the job of the courts. We don’t know all of the details provided in the courtroom. We don’t know what the reasonable doubt was for each juror. She was found innocent, and we have to accept that or we don’t accept our judicial system and how it works.

      The media tried and convicted her before she even went to court because she made some ridiculously stupid decisions and behaved badly in the wake of her daughter’s death. The only person who knows exactly what happened is dead and cannot speak to the issue. If we are to accept our government and judicial system, we have to look at alternative reasons for what happened to baby Caylee, because her mother was found innocent of murder.

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