Casey Anthony Case: Jury Set to Deliver Verdict

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Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel / Getty Images

Assistant state attorney Linda Drane Burdick, right, and defense attorney Jose Baez before the start of court in the trial of Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Friday, July 1, 2011.

The seven women and five men charged with determining Casey Anthony’s fate have been sequestered since the trial began May 24. They have finally reached a verdict. Over the weekend, instead of enjoying 4th of July festivities with their families, they heard hours of brutal closing arguments, where both sides tried for one final push to convince them how Caylee Anthony died.

Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s defense lawyer, called the state’s evidence “fantasy forensics” and tried to convince the jury that prosecutors saw this only as a win. “This is about winning a high profile case and nothing else,” Baez told the jury on Sunday. “It’s not about a search for the truth.”

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Prosecutors painted a picture of Casey as a party girl who couldn’t reconcile the Bacchanalian life she wanted to lead with the rigors of raising a child. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton played a silent video of Casey and Caylee playing gleefully, then walked the jury detail by gory detail through the state’s explanation of Caylee’s death: the child’s own mother subdued her with chloroform, suffocated her with duct tape, then tossed her body in the woods.

Now that the case is with the jury, prosecutors may be worrying that they didn’t quite convince the entire group. Court observers pointed out that during Baez’s closing argument, all of the jurors paid close attention, but when Ashton spoke, one of the jurors looked away, never making eye contact and tapping a pen on her notepad. Even one holdout juror would be a large problem.

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According to the juror’s instructions delivered by Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. and made available by the court, any verdict must be unanimous, and “each juror must agree to the same verdict.” While Casey Anthony is on trial for first degree (premeditated murder), which could carry the death penalty, jurors can also find her guilty of several lesser crimes, such as aggravated manslaughter of a child, giving false statements to law enforcement, second degree murder or even attempt to commit a crime.

The burden of proof for first degree murder is high. Jurors must believe beyond reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony caused the death of her daughter intentionally. For felony first degree murder, they have to believe that the state proved that Casey killed her daughter while engaged in aggravated child abuse. One of the lesser charges is felony murder in the third degree, meaning that Caylee’s death was a consequence of attempted child abuse.

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At 1:30 pm on Tuesday, the jury announced that they have reached a verdict, which will be delivered in court at 2:15 pm.

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