A famous jurist by the name of William Blackstone once said, “the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
The profound wisdom behind this quote may be the catalyst which fuels the entire meaning behind the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”; the one, key, important element that plays a substantial part of the legal process when any case is sent to a courtroom to be argued in front of a trial by jury.
The 6th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees everyone the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. This amendment, along with the 14th Amendment which guarantees due process of law, and the 5th Amendment, which provides that “[N]o person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” are the foundation upon which the entire legal process within the United States of America operates, and the process by which an accused individual is found guilty, or not guilty, by a jury of their peers.
Since the legal system of America applys the presumption of innocence to every defendant in a criminal case, this presumption of innocence is “A principle that requires the government to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant and relieves the defendant of any burden to prove his or her innocence.”
The Casey Anthony murder trial was a prime example of the American legal system in action, irregardless of how we, the people, feel with every appalling, morbid conviction of her guilt in regards to the death of her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.
Every individual action you perform on a daily basis, forms a link in a collective chain of events that results in one of many, different, possible outcomes at the end of the day. Let’s use driving a car for an example. Here is the resulting links in a chain of events that could happen on a daily basis:
Link 1: You get in your car and close the door
Link 2: You place your cup of coffee in the center console.
Link 3: You place your keys in the ignition and start the car.
Link 4: You back out of the driveway.
Link 5: You start driving down the road.
Link 6: While driving you look down to pick up your cup of coffee, taking your eyes off the road for only a couple of seconds.
Link 7: A small toddler runs out in front of your SUV after their ball.
Link 8: You hit something and feel your tires bounce over it, and when you look in the mirror, you see a small child laying lifeless in the road behind you.
When you looked down to reach for that cup of coffee, you didn’t see the small child run into the road in front of you after their ball. By the time you looked up, the child was in front of your bumper, and since you drive a large SUV, there was no way you could have seen them when you ran over them.
If link 6 had never taken place in this chain of events, then links 7 and 8 would have been avoided because you would have had time to react.
In any murder investigation, a chain of evidence has to be forged to tell a story that answers the following questions:
* Who is accused of performing a horrendous act?
* What are they accused of doing?
* When did they do it?
* Where did they do it?
* How did they do it?
* Why did they do it?
In the Casey Marie Anthony trial, the prosecution had to build a ponderous chain of evidence, link-by-link, from hundreds of pieces of evidence that were collected over nearly three years of extensive investigation. In addition, they had to rely on the testimony of many different witnesses, and hope that their testimony would be credible enough to forge the final links in the chain, and answer the questions above where the physical evidence was lacking.
Through her own admission, Casey lied to the police and the evidence that was presented was crystal clear on this fact. The jury found her guilty on all four counts of lying to police officers. But, when it came to the testimony provided by other witnesses, and the other physical evidence collected by the police, the jury could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, link Casey Anthony to either the death of Caylee, or the disposal of her body.
Conflicting testimony obviously played a key role in the jury’s decision. Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic anthropologist who works for a division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, testified that a sample of air taken from Casey’s car showed evidence of chemical compounds that were significant in the decomposition process, though human decomposition wasn’t even mentioned. When Dr. Ken Furton, a chemistry professor who works at Florida International University provided his testimony, he made the statement that there isn’t any agreement, one way or the other, on what chemical compounds are actually part of the human decomposition process.
Without the agreement of these two, key witnesses, there was no way for the jury to see a connecting link in the chain placing a dead body in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car.
George Anthony’s testimony appeared somewhat hostile and misleading. Jurors believed that he either had something to do with the death of Caylee Anthony, or he was somehow involved in a cover-up of the death. Having served on a police force for a number of years, George Anthony certainly had the knowledge to explain to somebody else what would need to be done to thwart the efforts of both investigators, and the forensic science that is known to us today.
Even if Casey Anthony was responsible for the death of her daughter, Caylee, it was plausible that she had to have some kind of help in covering up her daughters death, or disposing of the body in a fashion that would make it difficult for authorities to determine the date, time, and cause of death. The only person in her life with the knowledge to do this is George Anthony, her father. One woman came forward saying she and George were having an affair at the time, something George denied, and that George had told her that Caylee’s death was an accident that snowballed out of control. How would George know it was an accident that snowballed out of control unless he was involved in a cover-up?
This brings up the question, who’s testimony can you trust?
The majority of the evidence in this case was circumstantial. This meant that the prosecution couldn’t forged the necessary links in their chain of events to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey actually murdered her daughter, and then disposed of her.
Juror’s, to find Casey Anthony guilty on all counts, would have had to reason that Casey, all by herself, was responsible for everything, including being able to thwart all of the forensic science known to man. But, the prosecution failed to forged the links in their chain proving beyond a reasonable doubt:
* That Casey Marie Anthony was totally responsible for the death of her daughter.
* That she murdered her daughter; the cause of death was unknown.
* When she murdered her daughter; the date and time of death was unknown.
* Where she murdered her daughter; the place of death was unknown.
* How she murdered her daughter; conflicting evidence, sheer speculation.
* That she was responsible for disposing of her daughter’s body; no evidence to prove she was the one to place the body where it was found.
Yes, as appalling as it may be, the jury did reach the right verdict of not guilty; it doesn’t mean that Casey Anthony is innocent of the death of her daughter, or didn’t have something to do with it, it simply means her guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial by a jury of her peers.