Americans were glued to their TV screens when the story of a missing 2-year-old girl from Florida gradually turned into a murder case with a shocking conclusion. But what ever happened to Casey Anthony, the woman at the center of the decade's biggest true crime story?
When 2-year-old Caylee Anthony from Orlando, Florida vanished in June 2008, the hunt to find her quickly became national news. But a number of strange details made this different from most missing child cases. For one thing, Caylee had been missing for more than a month before her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, called the police to report her disappearance.
And it was soon revealed that Caylee's mother Casey wasn't a typical grieving parent. During the month of Caylee's disappearance she partied at nightclubs, got a tattoo, and used a friend's stolen checkbook to go on a shopping spree.
Soon after the search for Caylee began, her remains were found in a wooded area less than a mile from Anthony's home, and Anthony was charged with the first degree murder of her daughter.
Over six weeks, as many as 40 million Americans tuned in to Anthony's trial, and conversation about her case on Twitter broke records for the social media website. It also attracted some very public attention, as over 1,000 protesters lined up outside the Orange County Courthouse, insisting Anthony was guilty.
Throughout the case, Anthony's defense team tried to prove that her parents were responsible for Caylee's death, and blamed her strange behavior on abuse from her father and brother. Her parents also took the stand, as her father George denied he had abused Anthony and her mother Cindy broke down while listening to her 911 call.
But after following her trial for weeks, viewers were shocked by the outcome...
Anthony had been charged with first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter. If she was convicted, she could have expected to face the death penalty. But after 10 hours of deliberation, the jury found her not guilty of those very serious charges.
Instead, Anthony was convicted of four minor charges for lying to the police about Caylee's whereabouts. But because she had already served her time in prison before the trial, Anthony left the courthouse a free woman.
She was quickly whisked out of the courthouse to the airport, where a private plane was waiting, and fled Orlando for a remote part of Florida.
Her Life After
In the days after her trial, Anthony kept a very low profile. She moved to south Florida and started living with a pastor. The public's first glimpse of Anthony's new life came when her private video diaries were mysteriously leaked. Anthony had disguised her appearance by dyeing her hair and wearing glasses.
In the videos she talks about her quiet life on probation, saying that she adopted a dog and spent her days surfing the internet. Anthony later declared bankruptcy, as she faced a number of lawsuits.
For the most part Anthony has lived a quiet life since then, but recently she has opened up about the case and her plans for the future...
A reporter for the Associated Press met Anthony by chance earlier this year, and managed to tape a series of interviews with her.
In the years since the trial, Anthony has started living with Pat McKenna, the lead investigator for her defense team. She also works as McKenna's assistant and as his internet researcher. For the record, Anthony still maintains her innocence and says "I didn't do what I was accused of."
While she explains that she's not "stupid" enough to have another child, she claims to sleep with a photo of Caylee beside her bed, and says that "I still sleep pretty good at night." Although, Anthony says that she no longer speaks with her father George since the trial.
While Anthony's conscience may be clear, others involved with her case have shared their doubts. The judge in Anthony's case, Belvin Perry Jr., says he believes that she accidentally killed Caylee.
"The most logical thing that happened," he told a local news station, "was that she tried to knock her daughter out by the use of chloroform and gave her too much of chloroform, which caused her daughter to die."
Russ Huekler, an alternate juror, seems to agree, blaming the jury's decision in the case on the prosecution's failure to connect Anthony to Caylee's death. "The prosecution just didn't prove their case," he explained. "They couldn't say how she died. They couldn't connect Casey to the murder."
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