Who Killed Caylee Anthony? Inside Casey Anthony’s Controversial Trial

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The Casey Anthony trial was one of the most high-profile murder trials in modern history. After Casey’s 2-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony was found dead, the world wanted to see the mom punished. But, like OJ Simpson, what seemed to be a clearcut case of guilt was ultimately dismissed by the jury. Here is a look at what happened and why a mother who failed to report her daughter missing for an entire month was let off the hook.

Caylee Anthony Was Last Seen on Father’s Day of 2008

Casey Anthony gave birth to Caylee Anthony on August 9, 2005. The pair lived with Casey’s parents in Orlando, Florida. On June 16, 2008, Father’s Day, Casey allegedly got in a family argument. Cindy had allegedly told Casey that she was going to try to get custody of Caylee. But Casey took her daughter and drove off. What happened after that is still unclear, and how long she was gone for is unknown.

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About a month later, on July 15, 2008, Casey’s mother, Cindy, reported Caylee missing. Cindy had received notice that their family’s Pontiac Sunbird had been impounded. When she went to retrieve the vehicle, she noticed a foul smell, which she described as “like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.” Cindy also reported that her granddaughter had been missing for a month at that point.

Casey Anthony was arrested the next day on charges of child neglect and obstructing an investigation. Although she hadn’t been charged with murder — evidence of that hadn’t been unearthed yet — it was noted by ABC News that “her bond was set unusually high as prosecutors said the case was turning into ‘what is looking to be a homicide investigation.’” It was set at $500,000 and she was mandated to wear a GPS tracking device.

Casey Anthony’s Web of Lies Threw Investigators Off

Police dogs trained to sniff out dead bodies also led investigators to the trunk of the Anthony family car.

Meanwhile, Casey was feeding investigators lie after lie. She claimed that Caylee had been abducted by her nanny, a mysterious person by the name of Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. But as the news reported in late July, Zenaida hadn’t been tracked down nor was she proven to be a real person. Investigators did find three women with that name, but none admitted to knowing the Anthonys.

Casey also told investigators that she worked at Universal Studios, but she didn’t. She hadn’t worked there since 2006.

Right off the bat, Casey Anthony’s behavior amid the fact that her child was missing was astoundingly suspicious. Firstly, she didn’t report her missing until after a month. In fact, she never reported her missing at all. Cindy Anthony did that. Secondly, Casey seemed to be claiming that Caylee was with a fictitious babysitter. Thirdly, she lied about her employer.

Casey’s Social Media Behavior and Social Life Made Her Look Remorseless in the Public’s Eyes

A detailed timeline of Casey’s behavior between Father’s Day and the day Caylee was reported missing gives a more damning perspective. She allegedly backed up into her family’s garage on June 18, which wasn’t normal, and then asked a neighbor if she could borrow a shovel. She proceeded to go out to a night club with friends and get a tattoo of “bella vida” (beautiful life) on her shoulder. Casey repeatedly told friends that Caylee was out with her nanny, Zanny, either at Sea World or on the beach somewhere.

On July 1, Casey took a shower at her friend Jesse’s house, begging him not to say anything to her parents if they called him. And on July 7, she wrote a cryptic message on MySpace. “What is given can be taken away. Everyone lies, everyone dies,” she posted.

On July 12, when Cindy and George Anthony demanded to see their granddaughter, Casey refused.

All things considered, Casey Anthony sure looked guilty, or at the very least, out of her mind. At least, that’s what the public thought when she was arrested and the case made the news.

Caylee Anthony’s Body Was Found 6 Months Later… With Duct Tape on Her Skull

Finally, on December 11, 2008, Caylee Anthony’s body was discovered by a meter worker named Roy Kronk. Caylee was wrapped in a blanket, stuffed in a laundry bag, inside a trash bag in the woods near the Anthony residence. Although her body had decomposed, there were still remnants of duct tape over the part of her skull where her mouth was.

Casey Anthony was then charged with homicide and her trial came in 2010. Prosecutors claimed Casey used chloroform on Caylee and then suffocated her by closing her mouth and nose with duct tape. They painted Casey as an exasperated mother who wanted her freedom but chose to “sacrifice her child” to get it.

The Defense Claimed Caylee Drowned in the Family Pool

But the defense had an entirely different story. They claimed that Caylee had drowned in the pool and that her grandfather, George, had tried to cover up the death. Additionally, the defense claimed that George had repeatedly sexually molested Casey, which is why she was a serial liar. Meanwhile, Casey used her 5th amendment rights and said nothing.

Witness and Forensic Testimony Were Conflicting

Witnesses added to the drama. A worker from the towing company said that he recalled the smell as similar to other cars he’d encountered with decomposing bodies. A laboratory that tested the car reported a “shockingly high” amount of chloroform. An FBI investigation, however, claimed that the chloroform levels were consistent with those in common household cleaning agents.

A software developer also looked at the Anthony family’s desktop history. He found searches for “chloroform,” as well as terms such as “ruptured spleen” and “head injuries” between March 17 to March 28. But Cindy later claimed that she was the one doing the searching. She also testified that a stain in the vehicle’s trunk was from 8 years earlier. It happened to be a stain that prosecutors said was from Caylee’s body.

Casey Anthony Was Found Not Guilty of Murdering Her Daughter

After weeks of testimony, the jury came back with a verdict: not guilty. Specifically, the jury claimed that there was a lack of sufficient evidence proving that Casey put Caylee’s body in the trunk or that she killed Caylee at all.

Shocking, yes. However, the jury did find Casey guilty of lying and obstructing the investigation, for which she was sentenced to prison for four years. She was released from prison on July 17, 2011.

Ten years later, many people who worked on the case still think she was guilty.

Where the Truth Lies Paints an Entirely Different Story

In a recent documentary, Where the Truth Lies, Casey had a chance to give her own side of the story. It includes seeing her father standing over her while she was in bed, asking where Caylee was. After searching extensively, she saw George holding Caylee outside.

“She was soaking wet. I can see him standing there in his hands, telling me that it’s my fault, that I did that — that I caused that,” she said.

“But he didn’t rush to call 911 and he wasn’t trying to resuscitate her,” she continued. “And I just collapsed with her in my arms…

“As I’m sitting there with her on my lap, just hysterical — just staring at her not knowing what to do — he takes her from me and he immediately softens his tone and tells me, ‘It’s gonna be OK.’ That she was going to be OK… That’s what he said to me, and I wanted to believe him — because I wanted her to be OK.”

Casey Claims that Her Father Is the One Responsible for Caylee’s Death

In the documentary, Casey also includes details on how he used to allegedly sexually abuse her. George has denied this. Casey also seems incredulous about Caylee even accessing the pool, implying that her father had done something to her and then deliberately drowned her.

Casey also said that her father used to smother her face with a pillow to knock her out. “I’m sure there were times where I was incapacitated as a child where my body was limp and lifeless,” she said. “That’s what I think about…  I wish every day I had said something to someone about something. Maybe then things would be different.”

In Casey’s version of events, her abuser had found a new victim: Caylee. Casey never said anything because she was conditioned to protect him.

“I know what he did to me — and that was my fear. I had one job — to keep her safe…” She continued to explain that she protected the wrong person. “I failed her again and again and again, because I still protected the person who hurt me.”

Where the Truth Lies is available for streaming on Peacock.

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