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Casey Anthony: Judgment day

Casey Anthony: Judgment Day 42:41

ORLANDO, Fla. - It began three years ago with a mystery that turned into an unthinkable crime. A community outraged, a family torn apart, and a nation's attention focused on one woman. After 91 witnesses and 30 days of testimony - stunning revelations, a family accused, disturbing evidence and even more disturbing behavior - finally a shocking verdict. "48 Hours" takes you inside one of the most dramatic murder trials in recent memory.

Today's verdict was not what most of the impassioned observers outside the Orlando courthouse were expecting.

"We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty."

On July 5, 2011, Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder, acquitted of manslaughter and acquitted of child abuse.

She was convicted only of four misdemeanors: All of them about lying to investigators.

Casey Anthony found not guilty of killing daughter
Crimesider: Complete trial coverage

Minutes after Casey's fate was read aloud, Jose Baez, the man in charge of her case and who sat beside her for the past six weeks - spoke out: "Casey did not murder Caylee. Our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction."

It's been three long years since Baez began fighting an uphill battle to save his most notorious client.

"I admire her greatly," he told "48 Hours." I think she has courage... strength, intelligence..."

The Orlando, Fla., woman first became a national obsession in July 2008, when she claimed that her 2 ½-year-old daughter, Caylee, had been kidnapped a month earlier - but she didn't report it. While her daughter was supposedly missing, Casey partied - and told her family and friends that Caylee was with a nanny. That October, Casey was charged with murder. Two months later, Caylee's skeletal remains were found not far from the family home.

Photos: The search for Caylee

After years of damaging pre-trial publicity, Baez was practically the only person left defending her.

"You can only use flattering terms to describe the true Casey Anthony," he said.

The drama moved to the courtroom in May 2011, when the demure-looking 25-year-old defendant finally faced a jury.

"This isn't just a case about Casey Marie Anthony, it's a story about Caylee Anthony as well," Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick said in her opening statements.

The prosecutor argued that Casey killed 2 1/2-year-old Caylee and then concocted elaborate lies to conceal it.

"No one else lied to their friends, to their family, to investigators, no one else benefited from the death of Caylee Marie Anthony," Burdick told the court.

The stakes were high: If convicted, Casey Anthony possibly faced the death penalty - a harsh reality that undoubtedly weighed heavily on her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, as they listened to the prosecutor's opening statement:

"Casey Anthony appeared ... to be what her parents thought she was - a loving mother working hard to support her daughter..." Burdick continued.

George and Cindy were key to this highly circumstantial case. Casey was 19 and still living with them when Caylee was born. Casey and her child never moved out.

"I saw her with Caylee every day," Cindy Anthony told "48 Hours" in a 2009 interview. "And I saw the type of mother she is. And she's just like me ... And I could never harm a hair on any of my children's head."

In that interview, the Anthonys told "48 Hours" that Casey left the house with Caylee in June 2008 and, unexpectedly, did not come back home.

"I think it was a couple weeks into it when I started really pushing to talk to Caylee. Because, you know, I really missed her," Cindy said in the interview.

In his opening argument, attorney Baez said Casey had a reason to lie about Caylee's whereabouts. And for the first time in public, he revealed it.

"She never was missing. Caylee Anthony died on June 16, 2008, when she drowned in her family's swimming pool," Baez told the court in his opening statements.

That awful event, Baez said, overwhelmed this deeply disturbed young mother - a woman who had learned to keep secrets because she had been sexually abused by her own father from an early age.

"It all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately. And it escalated. And it escalated," Baez continued.

"Jose Baez's opening statement - it was stunning," "48 Hours" correspondent Troy Roberts remarked to Linda Kenney Baden, a HLN contributor, who was once a member of Casey's defense team.

"Wow, wow, wow," Kenney Baden replied.

"It turned the case on its head?" Roberts asked.

"It turned the case upside down," Kenney Baden said. "As to what the reason was as to why somebody would not report her beautiful daughter missing."

Baez accused George Anthony of being the real villain in this case - a brutal man who intimidated his daughter for years. Baez told jurors that George found Caylee in the pool that day and then Casey found him holding the body of her lifeless child.

"She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry. And cry. And cry," Baez continued. "And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her, 'Look what you've done! Your mother will never forgive you and you will go to jail for child neglect for the rest of your frickin life.'"

Baez contended that Caylee's accidental death became one more ugly family secret... a secret just like George's alleged sexual abuse.

"Casey was raised to lie. ...she could be 13 years old, have her father's penis in her mouth, and then go to school and play with the other kids as if nothing ever happened," Baez told the court.

Throughout Baez' accusations, George Anthony remained stoic. Later, on the witness stand, he would unequivocally deny the allegations against him.

"Certainly the opening statement put pressure on the defense to prove the allegations made against George," Roberts said to Kenney Baden.

"Yeah, but the defense doesn't have to prove those allegations," she explained. "They have to give a hint to the allegations."

"This is not a murder case. This is not a manslaughter case. This is a sad, tragic accident," Baez told jurors.

The state insisted this was no accident - and the physical evidence proves it. But Baez promised he would discredit the state's forensic experts, police investigators, and even Roy Kronk, the man who found Caylee's remains.

"What did Kronk do with her? Why did he place her there that way? And can you trust anything this man has to say? And I would tell you you can't," Baez continued.

After nearly three years of relentless publicity - damaging evidence and scandalous photos - the defense was now on a mission to show that Casey Anthony wasn't the person everyone thought she was after all.

"I think the public still hates Casey Anthony," Kenney Baden told Roberts. "But I think the public also knows that they haven't been given the whole truth."

What happened to Caylee? It was the question in the trial of Casey Anthony - a question the prosecution team was convinced the physical evidence would answer.

"The evidence is overwhelming," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told "48 Hours." "When you add the evidence up, piece by one else could have murdered little Caylee other than her mother."

"From the evidence you will hear in this case, there is no other conclusion," Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick said in her opening statements.

One of the first pieces was also one of the most controversial - a foul smell which the state claimed was a clear indication of foul play.

Cindy Anthony's 911 call: "There's something wrong. I found my daughter's car today and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car!"

Video: Cindy Anthony's 911 call
Crimesider: Complete trial coverage

Casey's car, which had been abandoned sometime after Caylee went missing, left an impression on everyone who came in contact with it.

"George goes to retrieve car... and as they approach vehicle, an overwhelming smell is emanating from it and it's coming from the trunk," Burdick continued.

"It was an odor that could take your breath away," George Anthony told "48 Hours in 2009.

When investigators tested the air in the trunk, they discovered the presence of chloroform.

"The chloroform was shockingly high - unusually high," Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic anthropologist, testified.

Chloroform is one of the chemicals produced when a body decomposes.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton: Do you have an opinion as to whether there was a decomposing human body in the trunk of that car?

Prosecution witness Dr. Arpad Vass: I can find no other plausible explanation other than that to explain all the results we found.

Also found in the car's trunk: a hair, possibly belonging to Caylee.

"It has a darkened band at the root portion of the hair...and this is consistent with apparent decomposition," FBI forensic scientist Karen Lowe testified.

For Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, all the expert testimony added up to one conclusion, telling the court: "That there was a dead body in the back of Casey's car."

But Casey Anthony's defense team came to a very different conclusion.

"There is no evidence linking her to anything to do with the death of this child. Period," Defense Attorney Cheney Mason told "48 Hours."

"The prosecution had to go to novel, unvalidated science to try to get a death penalty," former defense team member Linda Kenney Baden explains. "It's the kind of science that if you went into a hospital, would never be used because it would not be considered legitimate."

"I want to talk about the forensics...and what isn't necessarily science but more like science fiction. And you'll see that throughout the course of this trial as the state reaches that level of desperation," Defense Attorney Jose Baez told the court in his opening statements.

In presenting his case, Baez questioned the analysis of the evidence and in some cases, the evidence itself. "It's a fantasy of forensics, is what it is," he said.

The smell: "She threw the garbage in the trunk of her car. ...She forgot to throw out the trash. ...That's where the smell comes from," Baez continued.

The hair supposedly confirming Caylee's death:

Defense Attorney Jose Baez: That one hair is still something that you cannot say came from a dead person.

Prosecution witness Karen Lowe, FBI Trace Evidence Examiner: I can't say absolutely that that's the reason the characteristics are present. Correct.

"The hair banding is novel science. It's hardly ever been used," Kenney Baden explained to "48 Hours."

The analysis of the air in Casey's car was especially dubious, according to the defense.

Defense witness Dr. Kenneth Furton, Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry: There's not sufficiently reliable scientific method to be able to identify the presence or absence of human remains.

Defense Attorney Jose Baez: Where can you find chloroform?

Dr. Kenneth Furton: It's pretty much everywhere. It's a very common chemical in low quantities.

But there was one piece of evidence that seemed impossible to dispute. Found in the woods just blocks from her home: the skeleton of Caylee Anthony.

Photos: The search for Caylee

"Examination of that scene revealed that the body of Caylee Anthony had been wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket, stuffed into multiple garbage bags [Casey winces] shoved into a laundry bag and thrown into a littered swamp like she was just another piece of trash," Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick told the court.

The details of the crime scene shocked the entire courtroom:

Prosecution witness Dr. Gary Utz, Orange County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner: You're looking at a human skull...

Dr. Jan Garavaglia, Chief Medical Examiner, Orange-Osceola Counties: It's tossed in a field to rot in bags...

Dr. John Schultz, University of Florida professor: Being dragged away by an animals or animals ... the trunk of the body with the pelvis and the lower legs more than likely was dragged to this area.

But most shocking of all was a strip of duct tape found loosely attached to the skull.

Dr. Jan Garavaglia: There is no child that should have duct tape on its face when it dies. There's no reason to put duct tape on the face after they die. Based on our experience, we've seen that in cases of homicide.

The prosecution claimed the duct tape was used to suffocate Caylee.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton: Would the single piece of tape, if applied in the position shown on the video, have been sufficient to have covered the nose and mouth and make breathing impossible.

Michael Warren, Forensic anthropologist: Yes.

But because neither Casey nor Caylee's DNA was found on the duct tape....

Dr. Werner Spitz, Forensic pathologist: If the duct tape was attached on the face there would be DNA from her face on the duct tape.

...the defense countered with another theory.

Dr. Spitz: I think the duct tape was later - later event.

Defense Attorney: After decomposition?

Dr. Spitz: After decomposition. ...This duct tape was perhaps placed there to hold the lower jaw in place.

And the defense questioned the motives of Roy Kronk, the meter reader who first discovered the skull.

Defense: "You were joking, you say, about finding this body?

Roy Kronk: No, we were joking about the money, sir. I never joked about finding the body, sir. That's not what I said.

Asked if she was bothered by Kronk's testimony, Kenney Baden tells Troy Roberts, "Well, it's clear that - that he somehow moved the physical evidence."

Defense: "Is it your testimony that you put that stick in the eye socket of this skull and picked it up to be sure what it was?

Roy Kronk Yes sir - I apologize for doing so, but I did not know what it was.

Defense: And then you put it back?

Roy Kronk: Yes, sir.

There was one theory the defense didn't address: its own theory that Caylee drowned.

"The defense doesn't have to prove its case," Kenney Baden explained. "All they have to do is raise a reasonable doubt by showing there was a possibility that she drowned."

After a parade of forensic experts testified, neither side could definitively explain exactly how Caylee died. But the jury would have other evidence to consider in reaching their verdict... the behavior of Casey Anthony.

According to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, "It's what she did in the month after...little Caylee went missing that is the most compelling evidences of all."

Would she or wouldn't she? After weeks of speculation as to whether Casey Anthony would tell her own story, Casey decided not to testify.

While Casey never took the stand, the jury did see her reactions to the drama playing out in court.

"Observing her, through not only in court but her behavior prior to the homicide and following it, I see somebody who is immature, egocentric, narcissistic and very, very shallow," Forensic Psychologist Louis Schlesinger said. "Her partying and carrying on after Caylee died - that is devastating behavior.

The last documented time 2 ½-year-old Caylee was seen was in video taken on June 15, 2008, a day she spent with her grandmother, Cindy.

Crimesider: Complete trial coverage

After Casey left her parents' home with Caylee the next day, no one saw the toddler again. That night, Casey moved in with her new boyfriend, Anthony Lazzaro, alone.

Prosecutor Frank George: Did you notice anything different in Casey Anthony's demeanor?

Anthony Lazzaro: No.

Prosecutor Frank George asked Lazzaro about that night together.

Prosecutor Frank George: During this time frame did she ever tell you that her child was missing?

Anthony Lazzaro: No

A security camera captured Lazzaro with his arm around Casey at a Blockbuster Video store that night, June 16.

Prosecutor Frank George: Can you describe her demeanor?

Anthony Lazzaro: She was the way she was every day.

Prosecutor Frank George: Which was?

Anthony Lazzaro: Happy, happy to see me, having a grand old time.

Prosecutor Frank George: At any time did she cry?

Anthony Lazzaro: No

Prosecutor Frank George: Did she act scared?

Anthony Lazzaro: Nope.

Most notoriously, for the next month, Casey spent many nights out partying with friends.

Prosecutors called to the stand a parade of Casey's friends and acquaintances to testify about those nights:

Prosecutor: Did the defendant participate in a hot body contest?

Maria Kissh: Yessir.

Nathan Lezniwiecz: ...She was normal, happy, everything was fine, nothing caught my eye as far as mood swings.

Erica Gonzalez: She mentioned she had a daughter.

Prosecutor: Did she tell you she was missing?

Erica Gonzalez: No

Prosecutor: Did she tell you she had been kidnapped?

Melissa England: No

Prosecutor: Did she ever tell you she was looking for her?

Cameron Campana No.

Prosecutor: Was she ever sad or upset?

Jamie Relander: No.

Prosecutor: Did she ever tell you her daughter was missing?

Nathan Lezneiwicz: No.

Prosecutor: Anything about the defendant's behavior that made you worry?

Nathan Lezneiwicz: No, sir.

Casey didn't appear to be worried, either. Two weeks after Caylee went missing, Casey got a tattoo that read "Bella Vita" - Italian for "beautiful life."

Trial consultant Richard Gabriel worked with Casey's defense and helped pick the jury.

"Just because her behavior is so different than what we actually expect, that obviously was a huge challenge for the defense in trying to explain what was going on," Gabriel told "48 Hours."

48 Hours Mystery: Only Casey Knows

"I asked her where Caylee was ... she told me that she was spending the weekend at the beach with the nanny," Maria Kissh testified.

Jurors also heard testimony about Casey's lies. Most disturbingly, she told everyone - including her mother - that Caylee was safely with a nanny, named "Zanny."

"I heard she was a beautiful person on the inside as well as the outside and had a great smile," Cindy Anthony testified.

Casey told elaborate stories about the fictitious "Zanny" and about where Caylee was.

Cindy Anthony: She said Mom, "Zanny's mother is very ill and she is not able to leave.

Prosecutor: Were you asking to speak to Caylee on the phone?

Cindy Anthony: There was always a reason that Caylee wasn't with Casey.

Video: Excerpts of George and Cindy Anthony's conversations with their jailed daughter

Prosecutor: This Zanny individual, did you ever find her?

Cindy Anthony: No

The nanny wasn't Casey's only lie. She also told her family and police that she worked at Universal Studios. But when Detective Yuri Melich went there with her, he said "...she turns left, starts walking down this hallway and halfway down she stops, turns and looks at us and says, 'I don't work here.'"

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton pointed to that moment in his closing arguments:

"With full confidence, she walks to the end of hallway, then turns around, puts her hands in her pockets and says, 'I don't work here,' Casey Anthony maintains her lies until they absolutely cannot be maintained any more," he told the court.

Casey told so many obvious lies that her defense lawyer, Jose Baez, had no choice but to acknowledge them in his closing arguments:

"I told you in the beginning of this case that Casey reacts the way she does and lies, because of the environment she was brought up in - the dysfunctional family, the secrets and the lies," Baez told the court.

"She was in some environment that lying was acceptable, that she was taught to lie, that she lied with impunity. And then it shows that something is wrong with her," Linda Kenney Baden, a former member of the defense team, explained.

Just last week, Linda Kenney Baden said this was a strategy used to help Casey avoid the death penalty.

"And if you're trying a death penalty case, what you want to do through the guilt phase of the to show that your client has some kind of mental issue. You're planting the seed," she said.

"The defense team never expected her to walk out of that courthouse a free woman?" Troy Roberts asked.

"I think the defense team would be happy as long as she doesn't get the death penalty," Kenney Baden replied.

And she didn't.

"She was portrayed as - an uncaring mother and a liar. ...and quite frankly, I'm not sure it's actually that important for a jury," Richard Gabriel said. "And so, as a result, the jury may have decided to have just said, 'Look, let's look at what we can know solidly from the forensic evidence or from what is lacking in the forensic evidence, as opposed to speculation or guesswork or some - you know, soap opera view of essentially who Casey Anthony is.'"

"I think the most difficult part of this case is obviously Casey Anthony's behavior...," Kenney baden said. "And you really have to get into that family dynamic. And until somebody does, and until somebody tells us what occurred in that family dynamic on June 16, 2008, this case is always going to be a mystery."

For the entire time that Casey Anthony's life hung in the balance in court, her family relationships were front and center. As her mother, her father and her brother each took the stand, the jury witnessed a family torn apart by unthinkable tragedy.

"To a certain extent this whole family has been on trial almost from the inception of this case," defense trial consultant Richard Gabriel said. "Casey Anthony and her family...this whole family portrait, is taken in a hall of mirrors. ...At some point, a jury has to decide which of those images is the true image."

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton : Have you ever sexually molested your daughter Casey Anthony?

George Anthony: No, sir.

"When you heard the accusations against George Anthony, did you think they were credible? Troy Roberts asked Forensic Psychologist Louis Schlesinger.

"Anything is possible. I don't think it was credible," he replied.

Schlesinger says the taped jailhouse conversations prosecutors played in court between Casey and her father contradict what her lawyer said in his opening statement.

Casey Anthony jailhouse recording: You know how much I love you. How much I've always loved you. You've been a great dad, and you've been the best grandfather. Don't for a second think otherwise."

"When you look at the jailhouse video recordings," Schlesinger explained, "she seems to have a fairly good relationship with both of her parents."

Video: Excerpts of George and Cindy Anthony's conversations with their jailed daughter
Crimesider: Complete trial coverage

Still, those accusations of abuse were on everyone's mind, and put the Anthony family under even more scrutiny.

"I think there's a family dynamic that's hard for all of us to understand that was going on within the Anthony family," said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

What was going on? Pam Bondi agrees those jailhouse conversations are telling. "The parents seemed to be very deferential to her."

George Anthony: Maybe we've all been too domineering... Maybe we didn't let you be the best mom. You are a great mom.

Casey Anthony: Dad, it's nobody's fault. It's nobody's fault.

George Anthony: All that's gonna change. I'm gonna listen more.

"She was running the show even in jail," Bondi remarked

Casey Anthony (very angry): C'mon!

Cindy Anthony: Casey, hold on sweetheart. Settle down babe.

Casey Anthony: Nobody's letting me speak. I don't know what's going on. My entire life has been taken from me. Everything has been taken from me.

"Casey, from the time almost she was arrested, sees herself as a victim," Schlesinger explained. "It's the opposite of what people believe a grieving mother should behave like."

Listening to it all took a toll on Casey's family. Cindy Anthony broke down on the stand when she heard her own tearful plea on that now infamous 911 call.

911 Operator: 911. What's your emergency?

Cindy Anthony:...There's something wrong. I found my daughter's car today and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car.

Video: Cindy Anthony's 911 call

Casey's brother, Lee, broke down, too, when he was forced to relive the painful memory of Casey's pregnancy, Caylee's birth, and how the whole family shut him out.

Lee Anthony (crying): I was very angry at my mom and I was also angry at my sister...I was just angry at everyone in general that they didn't want to include me.

And in six trips to the witness stand, George Anthony fought to keep his composure as he dealt with uncomfortable questions from both the prosecution and the defense.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton : Were you present in your home when Caylee Anthony died?

George Anthony: No, when I heard that today it hurt really bad.

He was questioned about his failed suicide attempt in 2009.

George Anthony: I needed at that time to go and be with Caylee.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton : And you expressed that in the note?

George Anthony (very emotional): Yes, I did because I believed I failed her.

George Anthony testifies about suicide attempt

And he was accused of having an affair with a woman named Krystal Holloway.

Defense attorney Jose Baez: Did you at any time ever tell her not to say anything about your affair with her?

George Anthony Sir, I never had a romantic affair with Krystal Holloway.

And the defense put Holloway on the stand in their only attempt to prove Caylee's death was not a murder.

Krystal Holloway [River Cruz]: He also said "It was an accident that snowballed out of control."

Krystal Holloway takes the stand

Defense attorney Jose Baez: You never told her this was an accident that snowballed out of control?

George Anthony: (pauses) Never did.

"...Being questioned and accused of actually covering up the crime - of sexually abusing his daughter, of having an affair - I mean, it was just nothing but character assassination for him," said Schlesinger.

The stakes were high for the Anthonys. They knew Casey was facing the death penalty because investigators found evidence of pre-meditation in the Anthony home - on the family's computer. Incriminating searches she allegedly made months before Caylee went missing, with terms including "neck-breaking," "household weapons," "shovel" and "how-to-make chloroform."

"These were all Internet searches done on the computer that Casey Anthony used three months before that little girl went missing," Bondi said. "So if that doesn't give you premeditation, I don't know what does."

"They don't know if Casey was even home, much less on the computer," Baez told Troy Roberts. "If you can't say who ran the searches - how are the searches significant?"

And in another moment of high family drama, Cindy Anthony testified that she was the one who searched for "chloroform."

Defense Attorney Jose Baez: Do you recall in March of 2008, you doing any types of searches for any items that might include chloroform?

Cindy Anthony: Yes. I started looking up chloroform - I mean chlorophyll - and that prompted me to look up chloroform.

"What did you make of Cindy's testimony aboput the chloroform?" Roberts asked Schlesinger. "Some people suggest she was trying to save her daughter from the death penalty."

"I think that's probably correct," he replied.

In fact, prosecutors called witnesses who testified that Cindy was at work when those searches were performed on the Anthony home computer.

Prosecutor: So there is activity on a patient's file starting at 132744 central time by user "C-M-ANTHONY" at a desk terminal. Is that correct?

John Camperlengo: Correct.

It was this back and forth - a family trying to protect its own, while forced to face painful allegations - that riveted the courtroom.

"You wonder why this case got so crazy... and you look at the situation here, you look at facts here," Baez said in his closing.

"...To say there's no link between Casey and Caylee's death ignores all the evidence," Ashton tells the court in his closing.

"I think it's hard for a jury... They're really charged to look at things objectively and rationally," Gabriel told Roberts. "And so they sometimes have to - sort their way through a lot of this emotion to try and truly understand what's the evidence here?"

For the last six weeks, the Casey Anthony trial was America's hottest reality show as the media invaded Orlando. It was the hottest ticket in town.

Housewife Sherri Adgie flew from Atlanta to see Casey Anthony with her own eyes. She scored a courtroom seat six times.

"She just didn't seem remorseful," Adgie said. "She was acting like it was a big joke and cutting up and laughing and I want to see justice for Caylee..."

"All my tickets - everybody loves seeing these. And these are selling on eBay. I've seen them, but nobody's buying mine," said Shawn Chaisson, who spent 13 days in court.

Chiasson had just moved to Orlando when Caylee was reported missing. He was so moved by the story that he joined the search for Caylee, and even attended her memorial.

"She was a beautiful little girl, I can't even say her name," Chiasson said, full of emotion. "Caylee was a beautiful little girl."

Crimesider: Complete trial coverage

"48 Hours" met Matthew Bartlett on line to get a ticket on Wednesday, June 29.

"I just want to be a part of it ... support the defense," he said. "I believe she's innocent. In some ways, I mean."

On Thursday in the courtroom, Bartlett made an obscene hand gesture in the direction of Prosecutor Jeff Ashton. Then Judge Belvin Perry made a spectacle of Bartlett, sentencing him to six days in jail and a $400 fine.

Today's stunning verdict virtually assures that the spectacle of the Casey Anthony trial will linger for a long time.

"It was a prosecution construct, in my opinion," Linda Kenney Baden said after the verdict. "And I think the jury saw through that. They saw that this was a terrible and horrific accident. An accident that was covered up. And that because of the mystery surrounding the family and the clear dysfunction that seemed to be shown on the jury stand by members of the family that something else was going on there. And they weren't gonna hold Casey Anthony responsible."

Perhaps realizing their verdict was controversial, the entire jury declined to speak at a press conference afterwards.

But Jose Baez and his defense team didn't pass up the chance to celebrate their unexpected victory.

"I'm very happy for Casey," Baez continued. "I'm ecstatic for her and I want her to be able to grieve and grow and somehow get her life back together."

In a tent outside the courthouse, Prosecutors Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick stood silent as Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar thanked them for their work.

"This trial team is world class in command of the evidence," Lamar said.

Two hours later, "48 Hours" learned that Ashton resigned from his job.

Cindy and George Anthony slipped out of the courtroom right after the verdict was read.

Later, their lawyer issued this statement: "Despite the baseless defense chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented."

Read the full statement

"I don't think the Anthony family could win either way," Kenney Baden told "48 Hours" following the verdict. "It was going to be a difficult day and I can't blame them for leaving the courtroom they way they did."

In the woods where Caylee's body was found, people left remembrances for her.

Shawn Chaisson watched the shocking verdict on a monitor outside the courtroom. "Not guilty, first degree murder. I can't believe it," he said.

And he wasn't alone:

"This is like O.J. all over again," one man said.

"They have no regard for that baby. What is wrong with these people?" one woman screamed.

"She can have her beautiful life now, no child, Bella Vita," another woman said. "How can she not be guilty of child neglect, she didn't know where her child was for 31 days?"

Even Casey's friends, Dante Saladi and Shawn Daly, were split on the verdict was wrong.

"Do you think we'll ever know the truth Dante?" Troy Roberts asked.

"There's only two people who know the truth and I don't think either one of them are gonna speak," he replied.

Asked if he had any interest in talking to Casey again, Daly said, "I would love to sit down and talk with her. Would I be able to go back to the friendship that I had with her? Probably not. But I would love to sit down and ask her questions that are probably the questions she wouldn't be able to answer."

What happens to Casey Anthony now?

"I don't know what happens..." Kenney Baden said. "Obviously she'll finish serving her time in jail. If the lynch mob justice is as it was I - that I saw this afternoon, I'm concerned for her safety. That people will go after her. Wherever she goes she will always be Casey Anthony."

Casey Anthony will be sentenced on Thursday, July 7. She faces a maximum of four years in prison. Because she's been in jail for three years already, Casey may walk free.
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