When Justice Isn’t Just

The greatest miscarriage of justice since the OJ Simpson case, according to some, has resulted in the acquittal of Casey Anthony on murder charges for the death of her daughter Cayley. In what has been one of the most watched trials since Simpson’s, prosecutors have tried to convince a jury that Casey Anthony, a 25-year-old single mother, was so frustrated with her lot in life that she smothered her child, hid the body and partied for a month before family members started asking questions about Cayley’s whereabouts. Defense attorneys maintained that the baby drowned in the family pool and Casey was so distraught that she followed her father’s recommendations to dispose of the body rather than call the police to report the accident. The media has devoted substantial amounts of airtime to covering the case and the trial; so much so that almost every American has at least heard of the case. After months of testimony in what many experts considered an open-and-shut case with guilty as the inevitable verdict, Casey was acquitted of the murder. America is outraged feeling that justice has failed.

Now, people are pointing fingers at the prosecution for its failure to get a conviction. They blame the jury for failing to render a just verdict and they blame the media for tainting the trial with excessive coverage. They blame everyone except the one responsible. There are only two people who really know what happened to little Cayley: Casey and her father George Anthony and neither one will tell the truth.

George Anthony is a retired police officer. If anyone knows how to ruin an investigation it would be an ex-cop. With the ping-pong like shifting of blame between George and Casey, the lack of any real physical evidence, and the lack of motive, prosecutors were pushing a cart uphill the whole way. Without proof of foul play—the smoking gun as it were—there is no evidence of murder. Certainly Cayley died and certainly her death is extremely suspicious. But there has never been any real evidence—proof beyond a shadow of a doubt—that her death was anything other than accidental.

The prosecution gathered all types of evidence in building their case from forensic reports about how hair follicles look during decomposition to IT forensics as they culled data from Casey’s computer that showed someone—they couldn’t prove who—researched how to make chloroform and other “suspicious” search terms. They interviewed friends, family and complete strangers to try to find some link between Casey and the death. They even interviewed people who shared a cell with Casey during the three times she was incarcerated during the investigation. Every shred of evidence they found, however, was circumstantial. None of it proved anything; at least not beyond a reasonable doubt.

The fact of the matter is that Casey was found “Not Guilty.” This is not the same as being innocent. To be found guilty requires that there be no reasonable doubt about guilt. If a doubt exists, then guilt is not proven. Without the smoking gun, without solid motive and without definitive proof, the only reasonable verdict in this case was not guilty. It may not be just, but it is our justice system.

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Filed under Media, Politics, Society

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