Casey Anthony juror: If not for the death penalty, we might have convicted her

The key bit comes at 3:10. I’ve watched it four times and I’m still not sure what she means. To begin with, as far as I’ve always understood, a jury’s not supposed to consider the penalty when deliberating about guilt. The defendant’s guilty or not based on the evidence; you worry about punishment after you answer that question. If she’s saying that her findings of fact would have been different had a nonevidentiary variable been changed, then she’s actually practicing a subtle form of nullification here. I don’t know, maybe Florida law is different. Either way, there’s no way to stop a jury from considering whatever it wants to consider, proper or not.

Could be all she’s saying is that the prospect of death drove home to the jury that this wasn’t a game, that they had to scrutinize the prosecution’s murder narrative with their most skeptical, exacting eye. Okay — but then why’d they acquit her on manslaughter and aggravated child abuse too? Did the jury perhaps mistakenly believe that those crimes also carried the death penalty? A quote from the clip: “If they’d charged her with other things, we probably could have convicted or, you know, got a guilty sentence, but not for death. Not for first degree.” But … they did charge her with other things. The whole reason the prosecution made the lesser included offenses available was to give jurors an alternative in case they found the evidence of malice aforethought shaky or, I guess, in case they got squeamish about capital punishment. Even Alan “The System Worked” Dershowitz admits that “There was sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the jury could have inferred homicide.” If this juror’s saying that they were inclined to send her to prison had death not been on the table, well, they could have taken death off the table themselves and sent her to prison anyway.

Or maybe, just to make this extra bizarre, she’s suggesting that had the prosecution sought life in prison instead of death, they might have actually convicted her of first-degree murder. In other words, when she says “charged her with other things,” she’s referring to alternate penalties for murder one, not alternate charges. If that’s what she’s saying then my mind is completely blown because the whole narrative that’s been spun thus far — including by this juror — is that there simply wasn’t enough hard evidence to convict Anthony of anything. And in fairness, that’s true of the murder charge: Without evidence that Anthony deliberately killed the baby, there’s really no way to get her on that. But then, during the death penalty question here, Ford seems to turn around and say no, they might have nailed her even on the big charge had lethal injection not been in the mix. Astounding.

I don’t know what the answer is, but oh well. America’s sweetheart will be a free woman next Wednesday thanks to time served, hopefully to embark on a bella vita of media-derived wealth, bitchin’ parties, and lots and lots of civil-suit defenses filed by the endless number of people she’s wronged. One further thought on last night’s post, too: Wasn’t Anthony’s biggest asset in the trial the fact that she was sui generis as a defendant? I gave you a hypothetical last night about a pervert who stumbles upon a body in the woods; applying a rigorous standard of reasonable doubt, that guy should be acquitted at trial too. But in reality, there’s not a jury in America who wouldn’t convict him. He’s too close to the template we all have of how Ted-Bundy-types operate — abduction, sexual assault, murder, and then disposal of the victim in a secluded area. Given how vivid that template is, no one’s going to believe an alternate version of how a male suspect might end up in the woods with a woman’s remains with evidence of a sexual act committed. The risk of letting him back into society is simply too high even though there’s not a shred of hard evidence that he committed any violence against the victim. In Anthony’s case, though, there’s no template. Some mothers do murder their kids, but the template there usually involves some sort of depression/desperation and almost always plays out with mom trying to cover her tracks by publicly begging the phantom suspect who supposedly abducted her kids to bring them back unharmed. Even the bad moms strain to look like good moms — but not Casey. You got none of that with her. The kid disappeared, she said nothing about it to anyone, and then she partied for a month as if nothing had happened. How do you read a psychology like that? How can you rule an accident in or out when you’re grappling with behavior that would be unfathomable even to other child murderers?

Speaking of which, if you’re looking to channel your fury, you might consider signing the petition to enact “Caylee’s Law,” which would make it a federal crime for a parent not to report a missing child in a timely manner. I’d much prefer that that be done at the individual state level, and there’s obviously a debate to be had about what is or isn’t “timely,” but now that we’ve got a template by which horribly callous parents go free in part because they’re horribly callous, we might want to throw up an obstacle. Fun fact: Noted liberal law professor Laurence Tribe thinks Caylee’s Law would be unconstitutional at the federal level because there’s no power to pass it under … the Commerce Clause. Which is the first and last time you’ll ever hear a liberal say that about the CC.