CRIME

Casey Anthony sentenced after murder acquittal

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP, ABC7) - Although she was acquitted in the death of her daughter, Casey Anthony has still been sentenced to four years in prison for lying to investigators.

Casey Anthony reacts during her sentencing Thursday. Per the terms of her term, she could be out of jail within a month. (Photo: Associated Press)

But she could be free in just a few weeks. A judge in Orlando, Fla., says the three years she has already served -- and her good behavior behind bars -- means she'll be released July 13, according to a court official.

Anthony was convicted of four counts of lying to detectives trying to find her daughter, Caylee. She lied to them about working at the Universal Studios theme park, about leaving her daughter with a non-existent nanny named Zanny, about leaving the girl with friends and about receiving a phone call from her.

"It was obvious for 30 days her daughter was missing and she didn't report her,” said Arlington worker Nate Howard. “She got off with killing her daughter, but they just punished her by putting her in jail for four years for lying in court."

Her defense attorneys argued before sentencing that her convictions should be combined into one, but the judge disagreed. Judge Belvin Perry also fined her $1,000 on each count.

He says attorneys for both sides will have to decide exactly how much time she should be credited for.

The surprising verdict in her trial continued to be the talk of cable and network news Wednesday, a day after she was acquitted of first-degree murder.

"Anthony will always be dogged by the belief that she killed her child," said Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "She will never lead a normal life."

Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, told ABC News he would argue Thursday that Anthony should be sentenced to time served - she's been behind bars for nearly three years - and released. She could get a year in prison for each of the four misdemeanor counts of lying to law enforcement officials of which she was convicted Tuesday.

"If you look at the time that she's done, it's quite significant," said Baez, who nonetheless acknowledged concern about his client's safety should she be freed, given the high emotions surrounding the case.

"I am afraid for her," he told ABC's Barbara Walters.

Authorities in Florida are being mostly quiet about what might take place should Anthony be released for time served. There are obvious complications with her returning to her parents' home, where she lived before she was jailed, given the stinging accusations her attorneys leveled against them during the trial.

"Due to the high profile nature of this case and intense, emotional interest by the public, appropriate measures will be taken to release the individual into the community in such a manner so as to preserve the safety of the individual and the public," Orange County Corrections Department spokesman Allen Moore said.

"You can't have anything more than that and we can't try her again unfortunately. It wasn't a hung jury,” said Hunter Cotterman, a Fairfax resident. “They came back with the verdict and it was not guilty.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors are asking Judge Belvin Perry to recoup investigative cost for them and authorities. The mandatory minimums for those are $100 per case for felonies and $50 per case for misdemeanors. The state is seeking reimbursement for more than that and said in a motion filed late Wednesday that it has documentation of what it calls special costs. It will be at the judge's discretion.

State law does provide for restitution to be ordered for costs of the investigation, regardless of the defendants' ability to pay. But Anthony would have to be put on probation in this situation.

What could the future hold for Anthony when she gets out of jail, perhaps as early as Thursday?

- She may have to get out of town. Threats have been made against her, and online she is being vilified. More than 17,000 people "liked" the "I hate Casey Anthony" page on Facebook, which included comments wishing her the same fate that befell little Caylee. Ti McCleod, who lives a few doors from Anthony's parents, said: "Society is a danger to Casey; she's not a danger to society."

- Her family has been fractured by her attorneys' unproved claims that Anthony's father and brother molested her and the contention that her father participated in a cover-up of Caylee's death. On Tuesday, Anthony's parents rose from their seats without emotion upon hearing the verdict and left the courtroom ahead of everyone else. Their attorney, Mark Lippman, said they haven't spoken with their daughter since the verdict, and he wouldn't say whether they believed she was guilty.

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