Yesterday, a not guilty verdict was reached in the murder trial of Casey Anthony, the now infamous young woman who stood accused of killing her child, Caylee Anthony, in 2008. The moment the verdict was announced, the online community erupted in disbelief. My Facebook page and Twitter feed glutted with comments to the effect of, “Casey was clearly guilty! How could a travesty of justice like this occur?” Well, what I’m about to say might come off like I’m just trying to be a contrarian twat, and I freely admit that I in no way kept up with (or even cared about) the trial, not to mention that my viewing of Bones, CSI, The First 48 and Law and Order is lax at best, making me a far weaker armchair judge than the average American, but…Casey deserved to walk.
Look, I’m not stupid. Clearly, Casey Anthony and her taut, shapely ass were in some capacity the cause of Caylee now floating with the angels or whatever make believe afterlife you choose to buy into to avoid getting depressed by the probable reality that humans experience as much life after death as an unplugged Commodore 64. (I like pretending I’ll see all my dead pets and will get to eat limitless Red Lobster cheese biscuits, personally.) But the fact remains that prosecutors bit off way more than they could chew by lobbing a first-degree murder charge and seeking the death penalty. And while everyone is having a field day shitting on the apparently abysmal intellects of the jurors, very few people are stopping to consider that maybe 12 men and women, when presented with scads of circumstantial evidence, weren’t up for sentencing to death a broad who was possibly just a fantastically shitty and neglectful parent.
Look, I understand why so many folks were caught up in the case: Caylee was a cute kid, Casey was decent eye candy that women could pillory as an überwhore and men could imagine leaving Caylee-sibling-batter across the face of and it’s a lot easier to pay attention to a drama-laden tale of intrigue than stories whose impact the human mind struggles to process, like the fact that the world economy is potentially sliding closer to ruin with every clubbing of a hirsute Greek protester by an equally hairy Greek cop (opa!). The fact remains that we have no idea exactly what information the jury was presented with and what their shared interpretation of it was. It’s pretty easy to watch Memento with a friend, talk to each other afterwards and conclude you’ve definitively figured out the film only to hop online, read a few FAQs and realize your deductions were completely off the mark. Now imagine watching that flick and being told that, while you had a pretty good hunch about what happened, if you summarized the plot incorrectly, a potentially innocent person would die. You probably wouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger then, would you? I mean, I wouldn’t. Unless the person in question wasn’t as attractive as Casey Anthony, in which case, who cares?