What life is like for Casey Anthony now, three years later

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It was three years ago that people across the nation and around the world held their breath.

After a two-month trial, the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial announced they had arrived at a verdict.

Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter.

The nation was first introduced to Casey Anthony in July 2008. The country fell in love with her precious daughter, Caylee, who had gone missing in Orlando, Florida.

A massive missing persons search for the little girl ensued.

Police were suspicious of what Anthony, then 22, was telling them. She lied about her nanny taking the child. She lied about working at Universal Studios.

Anthony suddenly became the most hated woman in America.

On July 16, 2008, Anthony was arrested on suspicion of child neglect. Her attorney was an unknown Florida lawyer named Jose Baez. A Florida grand jury indicted Anthony on capital murder charges October 14, 2008. A utility worker found Caylee’s skeletal remains in a wooded area near the Anthony home in December 2008, and several months later, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

Watching in the wings was another Florida lawyer, Cheney Mason. A former president of the Florida Association of Criminal Lawyers, Mason, who just that year had been selected by Florida Monthly magazine as one of Florida’s top lawyers, was disgusted with the local media coverage about the relatively inexperienced Baez.

“I was offended by it. I was offended by the fact that he wasn’t being treated fairly. I didn’t know Baez. I had never met him,” Mason said.

Baez started asking Mason, a Florida death penalty qualified attorney, for advice. That propelled Mason to want to meet Anthony. He remembers going to the Orange County jail to introduce himself.

“They brought her to the room, and I have to tell you I was really surprised to see how small she is … how tiny she is. I stood looking at a child herself. I said this can’t be,” he said.

I sat down with Mason exclusively to talk with him about his new book, “Justice in America.” In it, he insists that the jury got it right, and the rest of the country had it wrong.

“Could she look you in the eye?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” Mason responded, describing her demeanor as quiet, afraid and unsure.

After that meeting, with Anthony’s approval, Mason decided to join the team pro bono. He said the unpaid time he spent on the case “was well over a million dollars” and cost him tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

Mason said in the years before trial, he normally met with Anthony in a lunch room at the jail. The jail would clear everyone out before Anthony came in. A stationary video camera in the room was positioned on their conversations, so he and Anthony would cover their mouths and speak in low tones to each other, Mason said.

Shortly before jury selection was to begin, Mason got word that Anthony’s handwritten letters describing sexual abuse at the hands of her father were going to be made public under Florida’s open records law.

He believed it was only right that Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy, were warned. He called them to his office late on a Friday afternoon.

“We had them one at a time come into my personal office and made the announcement: ‘Monday’s going to be a bad day for you George. I felt man to man I would tell you in advance.””

Mason said George Anthony’s reaction was “basically none.” “He looked at me … I turned sideways a little bit, he clapped his hands down on his thighs — let out a big sigh but didn’t say anything,” Mason said.

“He never admitted doing anything,” Mason said. “All we had were the letters and (separately) the statements Casey had made to the psychiatrist.”

Next it was Cindy Anthony’s turn. “We called Mom in, Cindy, and told her and she immediately welled up with emotion, cried, was very upset,” Mason said.

Once a jury was selected it was time for the evidentiary portion of the trial. Baez gave the opening statements. In the midst of telling the jury what the evidence would show, he delivered a bombshell that turned the case on its head by telling the jury that his client was a victim of sexual abuse by her father.

The country was stunned and so was Mason, who was sitting next to Anthony in the courtroom.

“I didn’t know that he was going to say that. We had talked about all aspects of it, and I did not know. I don’t know if anybody knew that he was going to say that other than himself,” Mason recalled.

I asked Mason if he was concerned the defense would not be able to establish this with evidence as promised during the opening statement. Mason said he was.

“Yes, I was concerned about that because I knew we didn’t have the ability to prove that unless George got on the stand and confessed,” he said.

The prosecution responded by making George Anthony its first witness. The first question Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton asked him was whether he had sexually abused his daughter. George Anthony responded with a definitive no.

The trial went on for weeks. Witness after witness took the stand for the prosecution in the largely circumstantial case. They finally rested their case on June 15, 2011. Then it was the defense’s turn.

Anthony’s defense attorneys maintained that Caylee was not murdered at all. They said the child drowned in the Anthony’s above-ground pool, and that Casey Anthony and her father panicked upon finding her there and covered up the death. George Anthony denied that in his testimony.

In the midst of the defense case, Mason described how out-of-court conversations with the prosecution suddenly turned to possible plea discussions. Anthony was approached with the possibility.

“Casey got very angry about that. She got very angry to hear talk about it. She didn’t want to hear it.” Mason said. “Casey would fight it ’til her last breath. She didn’t kill her daughter.”

Mason said he believes it took a lot of courage and strength for Anthony to end any talk of a plea agreement. She knew what was at stake in this death penalty trial.

So, plea discussions were stopped in their tracks, Mason said, and the trial went on.

Then, on July 5, 2011, after deliberating for 10 hours, jurors announced they had reached a verdict.

“She was holding her breath like a deep sea diver, waiting as we all were,” Mason said.

Anthony was acquitted by the 12-person jury on the most serious charges, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. But the jury convicted her on four misdemeanors of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

Anthony now lives in an undisclosed location in Florida and doesn’t go out of the home she is living in because of the public hate and continued threats to her life, Mason said.

“She has to live constantly on guard. She can’t go out in public,” Mason said.

By her own choice, she works inside the home, Mason said, and is living as “a housekeeper, clerk, secretary and stuff like that.”

“I think Casey has a lot of world left to have to deal with. She hasn’t been freed from her incarceration yet ’cause she can’t go out. She can’t go to a beauty parlor, she can’t go shopping to a department store, she can’t go to a restaurant, she can’t even go to McDonald’s. She can’t do anything,” he said.

Mason and his wife, Shirley, have continued a relationship with Anthony. Now three years after being acquitted, Mason said Anthony still distrusts the outside world.

“Casey is aloof,” Mason said. “She is kind of, I think, afraid of people … she’s not real close to. We’ve had a couple of occasions to have social gatherings that can include her — close friends, the (legal) team. She still likes to back away from the middle.”

Anthony “does not have any blood family anymore,” Mason said. The family she has is the residual of the defense team, Dorothy Clay Sims, Lisabeth Fryer and Mason’s wife.

Mason said although there may have been a few conversations between Anthony and her mother in recent years, there is no relationship.

And as for a relationship with her father? “None,” Mason said emphatically.

Shirley Mason has also gotten to know Anthony over the past three years.

“I’m a cross between a friend, a mother, but not a mother — only someone who is older who has had experience in the world she has not had,” she said.

Mason gives Anthony advice, but also listens to her when they talk.

“My hope for her is it gets better for her and the world or the people who have been so hateful can let that go and they can move on,” she said.

Anthony “tries to make her life work,” Shirley Mason said. She takes care of herself and stays physically fit by working out in the house.

“I do think she wants to speak out,” Mason said. Anthony declined CNN’s request for an interview.

“I have never asked her that, but I know she has very strong feelings for what has happened to her. I also know she’s very saddened by her loss and she will never forget her daughter Caylee, ever.”

20 comments

  • Tyler

    She deserves no pitty. She killed her daughter. It’s sad America lets people so evil go free. She deserves everything she’s getting but a million times worse. She should have been sentenced and should be rotting in prison. What a waste of human life

    • Kathy

      Yes Tyler 12 Jury members got it all wrong and YOU think you got it right. Think about what you are saying…look at your words…are they words you think are something to be proud of? Judge not, lest ye be judged…she has been found not guilty…build a bridge and get over it…and while you’re at it, get a brain…scarecrow!

    • Austin

      wow Tyler, I am glad that in this country we are not convicted on what people read on the internet.
      I am not saying that she’s innocent. but I am not the Judge, Jury and executioner (as you seem to be)

  • melissa

    Its not up to us to decide if shes guilty or not..god is the judge thats his job not our job..if she did it god will take care of her if she didnt do it god will protect her..Casey trust jesus hes the only one who can see u threw this..i will not judge u its not my place..we are all sinners..in God’s eyes every sin is the same..we will all stand before him on judgement day..i pray ur doing better and god bless u!

    • Trish

      Melissa, I have to go along with you. There were 12 people that found her not guilty, So now it is up to the Lord. As you said sin is sin. We can not judge others let God do it. I just wish people would leave her alone and let her live her life.

  • colleen gagne

    i can’t believe she is free. where is the justice for caylee. she deserves everthing,she tried to pull her father in to her ugliness. what a evil person may god help her

    • Kathy

      Well Colleen, BELIEVE IT because she IS free and that is because they had NO EVIDENCE to convict her!! Sorry but intuition and emotions don’t count as evidence in a court of law..thank GOD!! She pulled her father into it because he belonged in the middle of it because he did it! Don’t let your emotions get in the way of clear and critical thinking. The Jury did an EXCELLENT job that day!

  • Paul M.

    “I sat down with Mason exclusively to talk with him about his new book, “Justice in America.” In it, he insists that the jury got it right, and the rest of the country had it wrong.” The jury DID get it right. In a court of law the jury need to be convinced that a person is guilty of the crime they are on trial for beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution failed to present adequate evidence to convict. My gut feeling? She did it. But thats not how justice works, thank God! My guts been wrong before and if you are honest with yourself so has yours. The system isnt perfect but its a lot better than other parts of the world I have lived in where you are guilty unless you can prove your innocence.

    • Kathy

      I couldn’t have said it better myself Paul except I think her father did it and she went along with her father…otherwise…the Jurors got it EXACTLY SPOT ON. And I am very pleased that the Constitution was upheld that day even though most didn’t agree with the verdict. Lynch mob mentality people only want the Constitution to work when it’s in their favor. They had NO evidence to convict…only of lying to police, which she fully admits. If she had done it she would have taken the plea deals the prosecution started throwing out there mid trial but she was infuriated because she DIDN’T kill her daughter and WOULD NOT plea to something she didn’t do. That’s a pretty big gamble for someone who’s “Guilty”…I just don’t think she did it. I think George tried to pull his shenanigans with Caylee and she was way more verbal and outgoing then Casey was as a child and was going to tell on Papa!! He drown that baby girl to shut her up. Casey said when they went to bed the night before, Caylee was in Pajamas and when George brought Caylee to her, she was wearing a top and shorts that were too little for her. George panicked and put her in the first thing he could find. Casey would have NEVER put her in those clothes as Caylee was always dressed well and everything fit and matched….down to her collection of sunglasses.

  • Jillian bustos

    This story is BS! A marketing ploy to advertise “Justice in America”. Casey’s actions pre and post her baby’s death speak for itself. To get off scott-free like she did… well… It’s called getting away with murder! Not justice.

    • Kathy

      Hey Jillian Bustos???? PROVE IT!! Ha Ha! You can’t because she didn’t do it and if the prosecution couldn’t prove it….I’m quite sure YOU can’t either! The Jury got it spot on right that day…the only evidence they had against her was lying to police….love it when the Constitution is upheld!

  • Jami

    She deserves to sit in her house and rott! She is 100% guilty and to say she is very sad because she misses her daughter is ridiculous. I’m sure she’s sad because she can’t continue on with her “party life”! Casey Anthony is a monster!

    • Kathy

      And your judgment of her Jami….will bring you all the compassion that you’ve shown her. Casey is no monster, her father is the monster but he’s a “good ol boy” ex cop and they stick together. 😉 Critical thinking skills and a little investigation will tell you where to point the finger. 😉 Happy trails

  • BobSue Besemer

    Everyone is ready to convict dad with no proof. Interesting. Casey is a psychopath. She has no conscious and believes her own lies. She is where she belongs, in a lonely exile.

    • Barbara Keffer

      BOBSUE, and other’s……didn’t Jesus say, “let he that has committed no sin, cast the 1st stone”..?..Guilty or not, we have NO RIGHT to judge, only God, and his Son can judge. Have a very HAPPY and SAFE 4th of JULY.

  • Brittany Minter

    @ Kathy: I love the way you stick it to ’em! Hahahaaaa! It tickles me. Put the first smile on my face today. ‘Cause you’re right! Nobody can argue with that logic. You’re a smart lady ; )

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  • Clark

    There’s a difference in judging and seeing the facts laid out in front of everyone. This woman was hiding something about her daughter. Any normal mother would have been beating the door down of the police station to get help in finding her daughter. “Kathy” may be “Casey”.

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