Casey Anthony is not quite a free woman.
She will be on July 17.
Anthony, in jail since 2008, will walk out of the Orange County Jail next week after being sentenced Thursday to four years — but given credit for time served and good behavior.
The debt to society remains. Up ahead: a big fine and a bill from police to cover the costs of searching for a presumably missing toddler. That could take a few weeks to figure out.
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Thursday morning’s sentencing brings to an end, at least in court, of a case that has been the talk of talking heads for three years.
On the streets outside the Orlando courthouse, a crowd wasn’t ready to close the case.
Where protesters had been camped since before sunrise, Amber Block shook her head in disgust. The recent graduate of cosmetology scored tickets to the sentencing hearing, the ninth time she had made it into the courthouse during the six-week trial.
"This is absurd," said Block, 23, of Orlando. "This makes me sick. That little girl is dead and her mother has her whole life to live." Acquitted of the major charges against her in the death of her doe-eyed daughter, Caylee, Anthony faced some more time behind bars after she was convicted of four misdemeanors of lying to investigators.
Mary Stratton, an Altamonte Springs schoolteacher, was among the last protesters in front of the courthouse Thursday afternoon. With her 5-year-old daughter in tow, Stratton held a poster that read: Mommy why did you kill me.
"She got away with murder and I am sure most of the mommies would agree,” Stratton said.
In addition to the sentence, credited and reduced just a few hours later, Judge Belvin Perry Jr. hit her in the pocketbook, with a $1,000 fine for each of the four misdemeanor charges for which she was found guilty.
Beyond having to pay, what’s next for Casey Anthony when she leaves jail? Book deal? Made-for-TV movie? A new life in a new place? More partying?
Only she knows for sure.
But on Thursday morning, she was an inmate awaiting her fate.
A few minutes after 9:30 a.m., in the same Orlando courtroom where she was put on trial for Caylee’s death, Anthony listened as the judge heard from the lawyers on both sides and considered the sentencing.
His verdict: “I will sentence you to one year in the county jail” for each of four misdemeanor counts against her — four years total.
After the judge figured in credit for time served and good behavior, she will walk out of jail after having served 1,002 days.
That calculation was announced just after at 11:30 a.m. Thursday by a court spokeswoman. Anthony, 25, received credit for 1,043 days, the official said.
Although a jury ruled that Anthony was not guilty of the major charges against her, she was convicted of four lesser charges of lying to investigators. That was the reason why she was back in court Thursday morning — hair down, dressed in blue sweater with Tommy Hilfiger emblem on the sleeve — to face her punishment.
The judge might also charge her for the costs of police who spent time looking for the toddler when she was reported missing. Lawyers, investigators and the judge will figure out the bill.
The sentencing and looming release stirred immediate reaction in the crowd gathered outside.
“Insufficient justice!” screamed Flora Reece, an Orlando commercial real estate associate as Perry announced the sentence.
Like the trial itself, Thursday morning’s sentencing drew onlookers with a message.
Michael Lambert and Clay Stevens, two Marshall University students, drove 17 hours from West Virginia to show support for Anthony and the judicial system .
“We love and support you, Casey Anthony,” read a sign they were holding. Another sign they held aloft had harsh words for TV commentator Nancy Grace, who put the case into the national spotlight: “Stop judging people!”
Said Lambert, 20: "I just wanted her to know there is life after the trial and that the justice system works.”
Lakeesha Tucker, 33, came to the Orange County Courthouse Thursday to see if Anthony would be released.
"She did it. I am appalled by the jury’s decision,” she said. “There were too many things that simply didn’t make sense for this to be an accident. I still get chills when I think about what happened to Caylee.”
Two Miami-Dade teachers also drove to Orlando, in support of Caylee.
"We are schoolteachers. We love kids and this was an injustice done to Caylee and all innocent children," said Hedwig Berthold, 39, a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary in North Miami-Dade.
The last word, though, was in court. For a woman in jail since 2008, the punishment continues for a few more days.
On Tuesday, Anthony’s day of judgment, Florida and the rest of the nation flicked on TVs at home or peeked at the feed at work as the clerk of the court read the verdict at 2:15 p.m. As people gathered around the tube and outside the courthouse — many expecting to hear the pronouncement “GUILTY!” — the fascination with a single verdict ended with a gasp.
The saga of Casey Anthony began in June 2008 when 2-year-old Caylee was last seen alive. For the next several weeks, Casey was seen partying around town or shopping at Target and Winn-Dixie.
A year ago, she took police to the last place she says she saw her daughter. In October, she was indicted on first-degree murder charges. A month later, Caylee’s remains were found in the woods near the family home.
On May 24, Anthony’s trial began in Orlando.
The prosecution focused on lies and deception: a party queen who failed to report her missing toddler for a month and then told a story about a kidnapping by a nonexistent nanny. The defense argued that the child accidentally drowned in her grandparents’ swimming pool.
The jury’s ruling: There wasn’t enough evidence to convict Anthony of the most serious charges: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. She was judged guilty on four misdemeanors of lying to investigators, which led to Thursday’s sentencing decision.
One of the jurors spoke to ABC News about the verdict.
“We were crying, and not just the women,” Jennifer Ford said about the deliberations. “We wanted to do it with integrity and not contribute to the sensationalism of the trial.”
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/07/v-fullstory/2303177/uncertain-future-for-casey-anthony.html#ixzz1RRslsp5X