Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder Trial of Casey Anthony

The 'Dysfunctional Anthony Family' Defense


Caylee Anthony
Caylee Anthony

He alleged in his opening statement: "How in the world can a mother wait 30 days before ever reporting her child missing? That's insane. That's bizarre. Something's just not right about that. Well, the answer is actually relatively simple. She never was missing. Caylee Anthony died on June 16, 2008, when she drowned in her family's swimming pool. As soon as Casey came around this corner and went back, she saw George Anthony holding Caylee in his arms. She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry. And cry. And cry. And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her, "Look what you've done. Your mother will never forgive you, and you will go to jail for child neglect for the rest of your frickin' life."

Caylee Anthony hadn't been murdered, he maintained, but rather had died in an all-too-common way, drowned in the family pool. Baez noted, "In the state of Florida, the number one way children die is drowning in swimming pools."

The only thing, said Baez, that had been unusual was the "dysfunctional" Anthony family, a family that harbored dark secrets. Baez alleged that Casey's father, George Anthony had molested her as a child, which had given Casey an odd and detached way of dealing with her reality, pretending nothing was wrong at all in the most alarming situations. Baez was trying to lay the groundwork to explain Casey Anthony's strange behavior while Caylee had been "missing."

Casey Anthony in court
Casey Anthony in court

And he took the prosecution's main weapon, Casey's tendency to lie, and made it a part of her defense. Had Casey, as the prosecution contended, dressed up as if she were going to work, wearing a Universal badge, and gone nowhere, for two straight years? Yep. Had she lied about having a nanny that didn't exist? Yes, she had. But, Baez contended, she had done so out of self-preservation, to keep her child away from her father: "It's true for two years she pretended she had a job and pretended she had a nanny. Is that normal? Is that what normal people do?" Baez explained, "There was a reason behind this; something is not right here. Anything Casey could do to protect her child, living alone, making up a nanny. She forced herself to live in a world she wanted to."

Jose Baez's statement was a grand performance—but would the facts hold up?

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