Casey Anthony Trial: Does it Matter What the Parents Think?

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Joe Burbank / Reuters

Cindy and George Anthony, parents of Casey Anthony, leave the courtroom with Judge Belvin Perry (R) following at the Orange County Courthouse during the second day of their daughter's first-degree murder trial, in Orlando, Florida, May 25, 2011.

As defense lawyers continued to hammer away at forensic evidence, this time trying to raise doubts about hairs found in Casey Anthony’s trunk, the drama again centered on events taking place outside of the Orlando courtroom where Anthony stands trial for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee.

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After court wrapped up on Wednesday, Mark Lippman, the lawyer for Casey’s parents, George and Cindy, gave an off-camera interview with Gary Tuchman for Anderson Cooper 360. Tuchman reported that he asked Lippman, “Do your clients George and Cindy Anthony think that [Casey Anthony] is not guilty?” Lippman responded, “They don’t think that…they do not believe she is innocent.”

Cooper talked up the bombshell exclusive, but late Wednesday night, Lippman began walking back his statement, saying he was misinterpreted. “The Anthony family maintains that they simply want justice in this case,” Lippman said in a statement.

Because the interview took place off camera, there’s no definitive way to know what Lippman actually said and whether Casey’s parents believe she killed their granddaughter. But Tuchman is a veteran journalist who’s covered large stories, and it’s unlikely he would get something that important wrong.

(MORE: Why the Forensic Evidence May Not Be Enough to Convict Casey Anthony)

But the larger question raised by the interview is: Does it really matter what the parents think? Tuchman speculated that George could be in a lot of trouble if the jury believes the explanation in Jose Baez’s opening statement that Caylee drowned in her grandparent’s pool and George disposed of the body. That’s a bit of a stretch. First, this jury will only decide Casey’s guilt or innocence. Second, Baez has offered no evidence to back up the claim. Third, none of the forensic evidence points to George as the culprit. If Casey is found not guilty, then Orlando prosecutors would have to indict George for the crime. But given the lack of evidence pointing at him, that doesn’t seem likely.

The pain George and Cindy experienced losing a granddaughter has often been lost in the media maelstrom. Cooper pointed out that George wears a button every day in court with a picture of Caylee and that, had she lived, she would have turned six. How much weight the jury gives to any of these events versus the forensic barrage they’ve been subjected to is anyone’s guess.

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