Local defense attorneys not surprised by Casey Anthony verdict
FARGO - Several words top the list in the post-mortem analysis of the acquittal of accused child murderer Casey Anthony: beyond a reasonable doubt. Local defense lawyers said on Wednesday - as an alternate juror in the Florida case was defending ...
FARGO - Several words top the list in the post-mortem analysis of the acquittal of accused child murderer Casey Anthony: beyond a reasonable doubt.
Local defense lawyers said on Wednesday - as an alternate juror in the Florida case was defending the verdict - that they were not surprised by the trial's outcome.
In short, the lawyers agreed that the state had fallen short of its burden of proof, hamstrung by a lack of physical evidence connecting Anthony to the remains of her young daughter, who had been missing for half a year.
"In this case they couldn't even establish a cause of death," much less who was responsible, said defense lawyer Steven Mottinger of Fargo.
Also, he added, criminal investigators could only examine the place where the child's remains were discovered, in woods near the Anthony home, but not the location of death.
"In this case, there was no crime scene," Mottinger said.
Prosecutors first must prove that the victim was murdered, then must prove that the defendant was the guilty party, he said, adding that the prosecution in the Anthony case, widely followed throughout the nation, had been unable to pass either test.
Another Fargo defense lawyer, Bruce Quick, said jurors obviously weren't persuaded by the suspicious circumstances swirling around Anthony, including lies she told investigators.
An alternate juror interviewed on CNN, although he did not participate in the deliberations, said the panel seemed to conclude that the child's death might have been accidental, and any crimes involved covering up the death, Quick said.
"You can debate whether that's a capital case," he added.
Both defense lawyers said the public will never know what deliberations prosecutors made before deciding to charge Anthony with capital murder, instead of a less severe crime.
Both defense lawyers agreed that jurors today, influenced by popular television shows like "CSI" - short for crime scene investigation - have high expectations for incriminating physical evidence.
"Jurors expect sometimes unrealistically that there's going to be fingerprints everywhere," Mottinger said. "Most of the time we don't even deal with it."
Prosecutors, who were able to establish evidence of probable cause to get the case to trial, did the right thing, Quick said. "They just gave it their best shot," he added. "It just wasn't enough."
"This case is a good example that the criminal justice system works most of the time," Mottinger said. "That's why we have a jury. It doesn't matter what the prosecutor thinks, or what the defense lawyer thinks."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522