In Chapter Seven we discussed the Corpus Delicti of criminal
homicide. The concept of Corpus Delicti essentially requires that
before a person can be tried for a crime, it must first be shown
that an offense has occurred. Casey Marie Anthony was tried for
the first degree murder of her daughter Caylee and acquitted by a
jury. Please discuss whether you believe the jury was correct
– had the prosecution proven the Corpus Delicti of criminal
homicide, in this case First Degree Murder. Your paper
should include a synopsis of the relevant facts and should identify
specific aspects of the evidence (or lack of evidence) that support
your position. Please use the summary of evidence set forth below
in answering the question presented. Your paper must be typed
and no less than four and no more than six double spaced pages,
12pt font with 1” margins on all sides. This is a pass/fail
The Trial of Casey Marie Anthony
Caylee Marie Anthony was an American two-year-old girl
who was reported missing in Orlando, Florida, in July 2008, and
whose remains were found in a wooded area near her home in
December 2008. Her then 22-year-old mother, Casey Marie
Anthony, was tried for the first degree murder of Caylee but was
acquitted. She was, however, convicted of misdemeanor counts of
providing false information to police officers.
Caylee lived with her mother, Casey, and her maternal
grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony. On July 15, 2008,
Caylee was reported missing to 9-1-1 by Cindy, who said she had
not seen Caylee for 31 days and that Casey’s car smelled like a dead
body had been inside of it. She said Casey had given varied
explanations as to Caylee’s whereabouts and finally admitted that
day that she had not seen her daughter for weeks. Casey fabricated
various stories, including telling detectives the child had been
kidnapped by a fictitious nanny on June 9, and that she had been
trying to find her, too frightened to alert the authorities. With the
child still missing, Casey was charged with first degree murder in
October and pled not guilty. On December 11, Caylee’s skeletal
remains were found with a blanket inside a trash bag in a wooded
area near the family home. Investigative reports and trial testimony
alternated between duct tape being found near the front of the
skull and on the mouth of the skull. The medical examiner
mentioned duct tape as one reason she ruled the death a homicide,
but officially listed it as “death by undetermined means”.
The trial lasted six weeks, from May to July 2011. The
prosecution sought the death penalty and alleged Casey murdered
her daughter by administering chloroform, then applying duct
tape, because she wanted to free herself from parental
responsibilities. The defense team, led by Jose Baez, countered that
the child had drowned accidentally in the family’s swimming pool
on June 16, 2008, and that Casey lied about this and other issues
because of a dysfunctional upbringing, which they said included
sexual abuse by her father. The defense did not present evidence
as to how Caylee died, nor evidence that Casey was sexually abused
as a child, but challenged every piece of the prosecution’s evidence,
calling much of it “fantasy forensics”. Casey did not testify during
On July 5, the jury found Casey not guilty of first degree
murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a
child, but guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false
information to a law enforcement officer.
Below is a timeline of key events in the case:
June 15, 2008: Casey claims to have seen Caylee for the last
time. She said she dropped the little girl off at a babysitter’s home
and when she returned to pick her up, neither Casey nor the
babysitter were there.
June 30, 2008: Casey Anthony’s car towed. The family car
Casey Anthony had been using was found abandoned in front of
an Orlando, Fla., cash advance business and towed away. When
the towing company called Casey’s parents, Cindy and George
Anthony, they became concerned. Casey reportedly had told her
mother that she was going on a “mini-vacation” to Jacksonville,
Fla. Cindy Anthony later discovered that her daughter had been
staying with a boyfriend.
July 15, 2008: Caylee Anthony reported missing. Cindy
Anthony called 911 and said, “I found out my granddaughter has
been taken, she has been missing for a month.” Casey Anthony
allegedly told her family and police that she had not seen her
daughter for 31 days and had launched her own investigation. In
one of three calls placed to 911, Cindy Anthony said, “I found my
daughter’s car today and it smelled like there’s been a dead body in
the damn car.” Cindy Anthony later retracted that statement, and
the Anthony family rallied around Casey.
July 16, 2008: Casey Anthony arrested. Casey told police that
she left Caylee at the apartment of a babysitter named Zenaida
Fernandez Gonzalez, and that both were missing when she
returned. Police found, among other discrepancies with her story,
that the apartment had been vacant for more than 140 days. Casey
was arrested and charged with child neglect.
July 22, 2008: New revelations at bond hearing. In a bond
hearing for Casey Anthony, detectives revealed that they had
found strands of hair that looked like Caylee’s in the trunk of the
Anthony family car, and that cadaver dogs had smelled human
decomposition in the trunk. Bail was set at $500,000.
July 22, 2008: Casey Anthony called “person of interest.”
Officials said Casey Anthony is a person of interest in her
daughter’s disappearance and they were treating the case as a
July 24, 2008: Grandmother reports sighting of missing
Caylee. Cindy Anthony told reporters that Caylee was spotted in
Georgia, but police could not verify that claim.
Aug. 9, 2008: Caylee’s third birthday. Birthday came and went
with no sign of the missing child.
Aug. 17, 2008: Bounty hunter offers bond. The arrival of a
Californian named Leonard Padilla added to the intrigue. A
veteran bounty hunter with his own reality-TV show, Padilla
claimed he’d been contacted by Casey Anthony and would post
Aug. 21, 2008: Casey Anthony out of jail again. Casey Anthony
was released from jail after Padilla posted her bond.
Aug. 30, 2008: Casey Anthony returned to jail. Casey Anthony
taken into custody on new charges, including petty theft.
Sept. 1, 2008: Police said they believe Caylee Anthony is not
alive. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement
saying that based on evidence that wasn’t yet public and FBI tests,
it believed “there is a strong probability that Caylee [Anthony] is
Sept. 5, 2008: Casey Anthony released from jail.
Sept. 25, 2008: Babysitter files lawsuit. Zenaida FernandezGonzalez, the woman Casey Anthony reportedly named as a
suspect in the case, filed a defamation lawsuit against Casey.
Sept. 29, 2008: Casey Anthony returned to jail. Casey Anthony
was arrested again and returned to jail on multiple charges
including child neglect, lying to investigators, petty theft and use of
a forged check, but wasn’t charged in conjunction with her
Oct. 2, 2008: Casey Anthony named a suspect in her
Oct. 14, 2008: Casey Anthony charged with first-degree
murder. Casey was also charged with aggravated child abuse,
aggravated manslaughter and providing false information to law
Oct. 24, 2008: Police report evidence of body decomposition
and chloroform in Casey Anthony’s car.
Dec. 5, 2008: Jail releases Casey Anthony’s visitation videos.
Dec. 11, 2008: Skull found near Anthony home. Skeletal
remains of a young child were found a half-mile from the
Dec. 12, 2008: Police “somewhat confident” it’s Caylee.
Police spokesman Carlos Padilla told ABC News police are
“somewhat confident” the remains belong to Caylee Anthony.
Dec. 16, 2008: Defense team is not allowed access to the
crime scene during an emergency hearing. For the second
time, Judge Stan Strickland denied a motion by Casey Anthony’s
defense attorney to gain access to the area where the bones of a
child were found.
Dec. 19, 2008: Caylee Anthony confirmed dead. Police
announced that the results of DNA testing confirm that the
remains found belong to the little girl.
Jan. 13, 2009: Tipster denies involvement in case. Roy Kronk,
the utility worker who found Caylee Anthony’s remains, dismissed
suggestions that he was somehow involved in the toddler’s
Jan. 23, 2009: George Anthony leaves suicide note. Police
discovered the grandfather of Caylee Anthony despondent and
possibly under the influence of medication and alcohol in a
Daytona Beach, Fla., hotel, his attorney told ABC News. Police
also discovered a five-page suicide note that Anthony had
apparently penned in the hotel.
April 13, 2009: Prosecutors announced they plan to seek the
death penalty for Casey Anthony. In a reversal, prosecutors plan
to seek the death penalty against Casey Anthony. In December, the
state’s attorney’s office filed court papers indicating that
prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in connection with
the first-degree murder case.
June 16, 2009: One-year anniversary of the last time George
and Cindy Anthony say they saw their granddaughter.One
year after Caylee Anthony’s disappearance, George and Cindy
Anthony’s lawyer, Brad Conway, said the couple does not know
the truth about what happened to Caylee, but he knows of no
theory in which the Anthony’s daughter and Caylee’s mother,
Casey Anthony, is above suspicion. He also said Casey Anthony
would likely take the stand in her own defense at the trial, which
could be at least a year away.
June 19, 2009: Caylee Anthony’s autopsy report released.
Dec. 18, 2009: Judge rules Casey Anthony can face the death
penalty. Judge Stan Strickland denied the defense’s motion to
eliminate the death penalty, saying it would best be left up to a jury
whether Casey should face death if she is convicted.
April 6, 2010: Casey Anthony jailhouse letters and inmate
police interviews released. An inmate told police Casey said in
jail that she used to “knock out” Caylee, perhaps with some kind
of sedative, so she could go out at night. The inmate also claimed
Casey knew details about her daughter’s remains before police said
they were made public.
April 19, 2010: Judge Stan Strickland steps down. In a scathing
written decision, Judge Stan Strickland — who had presided over
the Anthony case since it began — removed himself amid
controversy over his positive comments towards a blogger who
was covering the case. “At its core, defense counsel’s motion
accuses the undersigned [Strickland] of being a ‘self-aggrandizing
media hound.’ Indeed. The irony is rich,” he wrote. “Motion
June 15: 2010: George and Cindy Anthony mark the second
anniversary of the day their granddaughter’s disappearance.
In an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America,” George
Anthony said he doesn’t think about the trial’s eventual outcome
and is just living day-to-day. In a few months, the ordeal will have
lasted longer than Caylee’s short life.
July 15: 2010: On second anniversary of the night Caylee was
finally reported missing, Casey, Lee, George and Cindy
Anthony all appear in court for an emotional evidentiary
hearing. After dramatic testimony by Cindy Anthony, who
recounted the panicked night she learned Caylee had been missing
for a month, a Florida judge ruled the 911 call Cindy made
immediately afterward — in which she discussed the “dead body”
smell in the car Casey Anthony had driven — would be allowed in
Casey’s murder trial.
Sept. 14, 2010: Casey Anthony expands her legal defense team to
Jan. 3, 2011: The judge ruled that witnesses who had a romantic
relationship with Anthony would be allowed, but said questioning
would not veer into extremely intimate details of the relationship.
May 9, 2011: The trial begins with jury selection. The process of
seating a jury took 11 days.
May 25: Casey Anthony’s lawyer, Jose Baez, opened her defense
with the claim that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family’s
swimming pool on June 16, 2008, and that Casey’s father, George,
helped her cover it up. The defense team also alleged that she was
sexually abused by her father and brother and hid her daughter’s
death like she hid the secret of her alleged sexual abuse.
June 23: Cindy Anthony claims she, and not Casey, was the one
who searched the terms “chloroform” and “neck breaking” on the
family’s home computer. Those searches were a key piece of
prosecutors’ circumstantial case because they say that Casey
Anthony used chloroform to subdue her 2-year-old daughter,
Caylee, and then suffocated her with duct tape over her nose and
June 29: George Anthony deals a blow to his daughter’s defense
by saying she was the last one to see Caylee alive. He also offered
details about his 2009 suicide attempt, which he made just weeks
after Caylee’s remains were discovered. He said he did it because
he was despondent that he had “failed” Caylee.
July 1: The prosecution presented evidence that questioned the
truthfulness of Cindy Anthony’s claim that she made the
incriminating computer searches. They presented records
indicating that Cindy Anthony was at work during the time she
claimed to have searched for chloroform from home. Computer
records revealed that someone using Cindy Anthony’s username
was logged on to her computer at the hospital where she worked
for nearly nine hours on March 17, 2008, and March 21, 2008, the
days computer searches for chloroform were done by someone in
the Anthony family home.
July 3: Closing arguments begin. Defense attorney Jose Baez and
prosecutor Jeff Ashton were both admonished and threatened
with expulsion by the judge. The harsh scolding came about after
Baez interrupted his summation and yelled to jurors that Ashton
was a “laughing guy,” as Ashton barely hid a smile behind his
July 5: Casey Anthony is found not guilty of murdering her 2-
year-old daughter Caylee. After a trial of a month and a half, the
Florida Ninth Judicial Circuit Court jury takes less than 11 hours
to reach a verdict in the case. The seven men, five women jury
declines to convict Anthony of either first degree murder or
manslaughter but does convict her of four counts of providing
false information to law enforcement, which are misdemeanors.
Anthony could get up to a year behind bars on each count when
she is sentenced Thursday, July 7.