Casey Anthony Release: Lawsuits and Look Alikes

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Ninth Circuit Court of Florida Judge Jose R. Rodriguez, left, confers with Casey Anthony's civil attorney Charles Greene Friday, July 15, 2011. (Pool photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

Two days before Casey Anthony is scheduled to be released from prison, lawyers argued it out in an Orlando courtroom. Meanwhile a would-be vigilante tried to have it out on the highway with a woman who looks like Casey, but who lives halfway across the country in Oklahoma.

In today’s court hearing, a judge was supposed to rule on an emergency motion filed by lawyers for Zenaida Gonzalez, a woman who is suing Casey for defamation and slander after Casey told investigators that a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez kidnapped her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. Gonzalez’s lawyers filed the motion to compel Casey to appear at a deposition early next week, fearing that she would flee Orlando and change her identity when she is released on Sunday.

This morning, Judge Jose Rodriguez unexpectedly removed himself from the case; he gave no explanation. Instead, Judge Lisa Munyon will hear arguments this afternoon about the motion. Casey’s lawyer has argued that she is emotionally and mentally exhausted after her grueling murder trial and would exercise her 5th Amendment rights rather than answer any questions.

(MORE: Casey Anthony Release: Will She Be in Danger After Prison?)

While lawyers have been busy litigating the leftovers from the criminal trial, an incident in America’s heartland shows how dangerous freedom might be. Immediately after Casey was acquitted of murder, public outrage spilled out into the social media gong show sphere, including death threats such as this tweet referencing Showtime’s vigilante serial killer: “Dear Dexter, Casey Anthony is being released from jail on Sunday in Florida. Regards, Justice.”

Halfway across the country in Chouteau, Oklahoma, a woman tried to take matters into her own hands, somehow forgetting she was in Oklahoma and that Casey is both still in prison and in Florida. A woman whose name hasn’t been released attacked convenience store worker Sammay Blackwell, allegedly because Blackwell looks like Casey Anthony. “She said that I was trying to hurt babies [that] I was killing babies, and she was going to stop me before it happened again,” Blackwell told local News 9.

(MORE: Casey Anthony: The Social Media Trial of the Century)

Attorneys for Casey and Gonzalez will be back in court this afternoon for another hearing on the motion to compel Casey to attend the deposition on Tuesday. Regardless of that motion’s success, she is scheduled to be released from Prison as early as Sunday morning. Let’s hope she doesn’t get too close to Chouteau, Oklahoma.

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion about Casey Anthony on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

In Crimes of the Century, a new e-book, TIME puts infamous cases like the Casey Anthony trial under a magnifying glass. Download the e-book now.

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