I am not very popular on my Facebook feed right now. As the jury for the Casey Anthony trial went into deliberations I was fairly certain they would come back with a not-guilty verdict. No, I don’t have psychic powers but I have seen our legal system in action and understand enough to know that the prosecution in this case did not do an adequate job of proving their case.
First let’s break down the charges. Casey Anthony was being charged with first-degree murder. By definition this means it was premeditated and carried out with malice. There was nothing presented that proved motive or a plan before hand to carry out the murder. And no, being a party girl does not equal motive. The second charge of aggravated child abuse also did not fit what the prosecution presented. Aggravated child abuse is the intentional infliction of mental or physical pain or an act that could result in the infliction of pain or the active encouragement of someone else to commit acts. While Ms. Anthony did not file a missing person report for her daughter this too does not fit in the charges. There was no forensic evidence presented to link Casey Anthony to her daughter’s murder. The forensic methods used were experimental having never been used before in criminal court. Prosecutors pushed the emotional factor instead of focusing on the hard evidence. Emotion shouldn’t win cases.
I’m not an apologetic, and frankly Ms. Anthony could have been involved in the murder of her daughter. BUT this case restored my faith in the justice system. Instead of viewing circumstantial evidence and making a conjecture about what might have happened the jurors in this case looked only at what was presented to them in a factual way. In recent years we have seen so many people be jailed or held because of what they may have done or what they might be involved in. As a Muslim in the United States these last 10 years have tested my belief in the American justice system. I truly believed (and still do believe to some degree) that the concept of guilty until proven innocent was taking hold.
In a post 9/11 world officials have been quick to label hundreds if not thousands of Muslims as terrorists and/or placed them guilty by their associations. Of these, only a handful have been charged with any crime. However they have had to endure days, weeks and sometimes even years in prison with little to nothing linking them to any crime and holding them. When they are brought to trial it is difficult if not impossible to find an unbiased jury who will look only at the facts and not the sweeping sentiments of Islamophobia that have permeated the psyche of America.
In the case of Casey Anthony the prosecutors brought the wrong charges to court based on the evidence they had. Perhaps a second degree murder charge coupled with neglect would have won the day, instead of shooting for the “slam dunk” that they didn’t have the proof to back up. As defense attorney Baez pointed out, there are no winners in this case because there is still a child dead. I will however say this was a win for the American justice and jury system. I can only hope future juries are willing to set aside emotion and focus on the facts like this jury was able to.