NATION

Casey Anthony release date set for July 17

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Casey Anthony looked ready for freedom. For the first time since her trial began, she let her hair down, smiling and playing with it as she awaited the judge's decision on when she would be released.

Then she turned stone-faced as the sentence was pronounced: Freedom wouldn't come just yet. She'd have to spend six more days in jail for lying to investigators about the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Late Thursday, Orange County corrections officials said they had "conducted a detailed recalculation of the projected release date" and that Anthony would actually not be freed until July 17.

Thursday's actions mean Anthony will go free nearly two weeks after she was acquitted Tuesday of first-degree murder and other charges in Caylee's death.

The extra time in jail did little to satisfy throngs of angry people convinced of her guilt who gathered outside the courthouse. But it could provide time for the public furor over her acquittal to ease somewhat and give Anthony's attorneys a chance to plan for her safety.

Two days after the verdicts, most of the jury remained silent, with their names still kept secret by the court. One juror explained that the panel agreed to acquit Anthony because prosecutors did not show what happened to the toddler.

When she is released, the 25-year-old Anthony must decide whether to return to a community in which many onlookers long ago concluded that she's a killer, or to a home strained by her defense attorneys' accusations of sexual abuse.

Judge Belvin Perry gave her the maximum sentence of four years for four convictions of lying to authorities. He denied a defense request to combine the misdemeanor counts, which could have made her eligible for immediate release.

"As a result of those four specific, distinct lies, law enforcement expended great time and resources looking for Caylee Marie Anthony," the judge said.

With time served and credit for good behavior, she is now due out on July 17, her 1,007th day in jail.

Outside the courthouse, a cluster of protesters chanted "Justice for Caylee" as they waved signs that said "Arrest the Jury!!" and "Jurors 1-12 Guilty of Murder." One man had duct tape with a heart-shaped sticker over his mouth, similar to the way prosecutors contend duct tape was used to kill Caylee. Increased police presence included officers on horseback.

"At least she won't get to pop the champagne cork tonight," said Flora Reece, an Orlando real estate broker who stood outside the courthouse holding a sign that read "Arrest the Jury."

Anthony's parents were present for the hearing but left without speaking to reporters. Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not comment either.

Anger continued to spread online, with commenters vilifying Anthony on social media networks. Nearly 22,000 people "liked" the "I hate Casey Anthony" page on Facebook, which included comments wishing her the same fate that befell Caylee.

The potential for Anthony to profit off the case was infuriating to many who said they feared she could become rich by selling her story to publishers or filmmakers or signing a lucrative television contract.

"I would not read the book," Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor in the case, told CNN's John King on Thursday. Ashton said he would not believe any version Anthony provided "unless it's one that accounts for all the evidence."

Mary Tate, a former public defender who heads the University of Richmond's Institute for Actual Innocence, said Anthony's defense team is probably seeking help from a variety of advisers as they seek to rebuild her fractured life.

"She's going to be bombarded with a lot of financial offers. She's going to be bombarded with random hostility. She's just entering an extraordinarily exhausting two or three years," Tate said.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a psychologist who authored "Mothers on Trial," said Anthony will have to deal with an "absolutely primitive blood lust" that's been unleashed, even though she's been acquitted.

"How is she going to cope with the hatred?" Chester asked.

Ray DeBattista came with his family of five and said he thought the verdict was "mind boggling." The St. Cloud retiree said he watched his 2-year-old grandson recently and the child slipped away while he answered the door. He said he called 911 less than 30 seconds later.

"My heart was racing, and I ran around frantically looking for him," DeBattista said. "He was playing hide-and-seek under the pool table in a laundry basket. I just cannot understand how Casey went 31 days without reporting her daughter missing."

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus