MANATEE - “It’s amazing how effective the confusion defense can be.”
Those were the words of Manatee County defense attorney Chris Pratt who, along with others following the Casey Anthony trial in Manatee County, were amazed that a jury found Anthony not guilty of everything but lying to law enforcement today.
Pratt, who has been practicing law in the county since 1982, was working a case in juvenile jail when the verdict came this afternoon.
“The defense threw everything they could at the prosecution in hope that something would stick to the wall,” Pratt said. “The defense attorney, Mr. Baez, was very Detective Columbo-esque. He came across as a bumbling idiot, but the results speak for themselves.”
Never miss a local story.
Pratt believes that when Anthony is sentenced on Thursday she will get credit for the three years she has served in jail and will be out free that day.
She can credit her defense team, Pratt said.
“No doubt of that,” Pratt said. “It was a miracle verdict.
“It was clearly a homicide.”
Peter Lombardo, an attorney practicing in Manatee County for the past 23 years, said he was stunned by the verdict.
“I couldn’t believe they didn’t find her guilty of at least manslaughter,” said Lombardo, a Republican candidate for state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit. “It was clearly a homicide. I am not sure it was premeditated or did not appear to be, but what is clear is that Caylee died from child abuse and no one could have done that besides her mother.”
Lombardo said Anthony’s defense team did a great jobarguing reasonable doubt and that is probably why she will soon be a free woman.
“Obviously, the jury did not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey was not the one who did it,” Lombardo said. “If they came to that conclusion, they had no choice but to find her guilty.”
Lombardo’s guess is that the jury was split until the end.
“Sometimes, when it is 10 to two or 11 to one, the minority jurors get worn down and they succumb to the majority,” Lombardo said. “I am really curious to know what this jury was thinking. I would love to hear from them. They are the only ones that matter, those 12 jurors.”
Unlike Pratt, Lombardo believes Anthony will be sentenced by Judge Belvin Perry to the maximum sentence.
“She got four counts of lying, so she can get four years,” Lombardo said. “She’s served three. I think the judge will give her the maximum and make her serve another year.”
Dave Miner, a former prosecutor in the 12th Judicial Circuit and a local attorney in Manatee since 1976, said he was surprised by the verdict.
“I would have bet it was second degree,” Miner said, referring to one of the lesser charges the jury could have found Anthony guilty of. “But, if you look back on it, it was a tough case. There wasn’t much in the way of direct forensic evidence or eye-witnesses. I thought the state did as well as it could possibly do. The jury worked hard to define the truth and it felt the case hadn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
"I think most people felt Casey was guilty, but the judge did a commendable job handling this case and both sides were assiduous in their representation in an important trial.”