ORLANDO, Fla. — Jurors did not reach a verdict Monday in the Casey Anthony murder trial after deliberating for almost six hours on the prosecution’s claim that the woman killed her 2-year-old daughter Caylee because the toddler interrupted her carefree partying and love life.
The jury began considering the case around noon after prosecutors gave a rebuttal closing argument and said the defense’s assertion that Caylee’s death was an accident made no sense.
Anthony is charged with first-degree murder and six other charges. If convicted of first-degree murder, she could be sentenced to death or life in prison.
The sequestered jury of seven women and five men was scheduled to resume deliberating Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. They were chosen from the Tampa Bay area because of exhaustive pretrial media coverage in the Orlando area and have been sequestered in an Orlando hotel. They have listened to 33 days of testimony and another two days of closing arguments.
All the evidence has been sent back to the jury room, but jurors will be brought into open court if they want to watch any of the video evidence. Equipment for video viewing is not available in the deliberation room.
Anthony’s attorneys say the girl drowned in the family’s pool. They have said Anthony panicked and that her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a homicide by placing duct tape over the child’s mouth and dumping the body in some nearby woods. George Anthony has denied that.
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton told the jurors no one makes an innocent accident look like murder.
“That’s absurd. Nothing has been presented to you to make that any less absurd,” Ashton said. He also spent significant time reminding jurors about forensic evidence that he said links Anthony to her daughter’s death, including the smell and chemical signature of decomposition in her car.
Lead prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick followed Ashton, telling the jurors that prosecutors presented every piece of evidence they promised in May during opening statements. Without saying it, she was pointing out that defense attorneys never presented direct evidence backing up their contentions that the child drowned.
She then hammered on the lies Casey Anthony, then 22, told from June 16, 2008, when her daughter last seen, and a month later when sheriff’s investigators were notified. Those include the single mother telling her parents that she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zanny, a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time in Jacksonville with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.
“Responses to grief are as varied as the day is long, but responses to guilt are oh, so predictable,” Drane Burdick said. “What do guilty people do? They lie. They avoid. They run. They mislead, not just to their family, but the police. They divert attention away from themselves and they act like nothing is wrong. That’s why you heard about what happened in those 31 days.”
Burdick concluded the state’s case by showing the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Casey Anthony smiling and partying in a nightclub during the month Caylee was missing. The other was of the “beautiful life” tattoo she got a day before her family and law enforcement first learned of the child’s disappearance.
“At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?” Burdick asked. “This is your answer.”
Anthony sat stone-faced during much of the prosecutors’ arguments, but occasionally shook her head in disagreement and spoke under her breath.