Veronica Hendrix

*Testimony about her carnal exploits and tangled web of lies following the disappearance and subsequent death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee rolled off her back like Teflon.

Yes 25-year-old Casey Anthony was handed a second chance after a jury in an Orlando, Florida courtroom found her not guilty of killing her daughter.

Casey had been the prime suspect since her daughter went missing in June 2008. The two-year old wasn’t reported missing for a month while a reveling Casey took to the town on what appeared to be a social spree of partying, carousing and living la vida loca.  The toddlers decomposed body was later found in December buried in the woods near her home. Duct tape was on the remains, but the coroner could not determine a cause of death.

The verdict was quick and swift, with the jury handing down their acquittal in less than 11 hours of deliberation following six weeks of grueling testimony.

So many people were riveted by this case. It had all the elements of a Lifetime movie from a labyrinth of masterfully crafted lies by Casey, charges of sexual abuse at the hands of her father woven with sociopathic escapades of the doe-eyed, tempestuous and scandalous young mother.

Trial watchers from around the country arrived at the courthouse each day at 5:30 a.m. and waited in line up to eight hours at a time to get one of 50 coveted courtroom seats. For them it was better than “must see TV” watching a drama unfold – live and uncut.

But this wasn’t a drama. It was a  display of the wheels of justice churning, turning, spinning, careening and stopping on a verdict that dropped the jaws of a riveted public not to mention the rich and famous like Kim Kardashian who tweeted, “WHAT !!!???!!! CASEY ANTHONY FOUND NOT GUILTY!!! I am speechless!!!

The prosecution proved that Casey was a young mother of bad moral character, beyond a reasonable doubt. But when it came to the murder of her daughter, the jury felt they failed to prove that her behavior was part of the evidence that lead to young Caylee’s death. Just because she appeared to be a negligent mother didn’t make her a murderer in their eyes. At the end of the day, the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution just wasn’t enough for the jury of her peers to find her guilty of first degree murder.

Who were those peers? They were seven women and five men. Their ages ranged from 25 to 68 years of age. The median age of the jurors was 48. Ten of the jurors were white, two were African American. Some of them had children. But none of that really matters. The trial was held in Florida, a state who history is steeped in racial supremacy lest we forget.

While the verdict shocked many, it wasn’t surprising to me. Many are left wondering how did this happen? Perhaps the testimony of the alleged sexual victimization of the porcelain skinned ingénue was enough to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. Perhaps in their minds, Casey was the true victim and little Caylee was unfortunately collateral damage. How could they punish her for being a victim particularly when evidence was circumstantial?  While the evidence against Casey was circumstantial it was extremely damaging. We know there are incalculable cases of men and women who have been found guilty of charges in the presence of far less circumstantial evidence than this case. Where is their justice?

The dismay about this verdict is clamorous. Most people believe Casey killed her daughter whether it was accidental or not as asserted by the defense.  Now she will be free as the day she was born.  What she was convicted of were four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers because she was found to be sociopathic liar. Judge Belvin Perry Jr. will decide if Casey will be released for time served during a hearing at the end of the week.

What kind of life awaits the young  princess of high drama? Throngs of media requests, movie and book deals? You betcha. As Don King would say, “Only in America.”

While the defense celebrates their long fought victory, in the minds of most people justice was not served; it was stolen.

The real tragedy is that we will never know what happened to little Caylee. It’s a question the defense didn’t ask and the prosecution didn’t answer to the jury’s satisfaction.

(Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].)