Why Was Casey Anthony Acquitted Of Her Daughter Caylee’s Murder? The Jurors’ Take, Explained

On July 5, 2011, after more than 10 hours of deliberation, a jury of seven men and five women acquitted Casey Anthony, who was accused of murdering her daughter Caylee, on the most serious charges.
Caylee was last seen alive on June 16, 2008 and was reported missing 31 days later on July 15 by Casey's mother, Cindy. During this time, Casey got a tattoo that reads "Bella Vita" — which means "beautiful life" in Italian — and was photographed at various Orlando-area bars.
The two-year-old's skeletal remains were found on December 11, 2008 in a wooded area near Anthony's home.
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During the three-week trial, prosecutors alleged Casey used chloroform to subdue her 2-year-old daughter Caylee before covering her mouth and nose with duct tape, according to CNN. Prosecutors claimed Casey placed her daughter's remains, which were wrapped in a black garbage bag, in the trunk of her car before they were disposed of days later.
RELATED: Where is Casey Anthony — once acquitted of her daughter's murder — now?
The defense at the trial, meanwhile, argued Casey and George panicked after Caylee accidentally drowned, a claim George has repeatedly denied.
Cameras recorded Casey weeping tears of joy and her defense team hugging in celebration of the jury's verdict. If she had been convicted of her daughter's death, Casey would have received a lengthy prison sentence or worse as the death sentence was still on the table.
Casey Anthony Where the truth lies
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Following the controversial verdict, Casey spent two weeks in jail on four misdemeanor charges of lying to police, a penalty that included time already served and good behavior, according to the New York Times. On July 17, 2011, she was released from the Orange County Jail in Orlando, Florida.
After the trial, at which Casey's own family members testified against her, people wondered how the jury acquitted the 20-year-old of their daughter's death.
For an anonymous male juror, the answer was simple: "In general, none of us liked Casey Anthony at all," he told PEOPLE Magazine a month after the trial. "She seems like a terrible person. But prosecutors didn't give us enough evidence to convict her. They gave us a lot of stuff that makes us think she probably did something wrong, but not beyond a reasonable doubt."
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The male juror said the jury unanimously agreed to convict Casey of lying to the police but were divided when they first voted on the murder charges. He explained to PEOPLE that they held a second vote, which voted 11 to 1 in favor of an acquittal.
"Everyone was just stunned by what we were up to," he told the outlet. "[One of the female jurors] asked me, 'Are you okay with that?' I said, 'Damn, no. But what else can we do? We promised to obey the law.'”
Judge #3 Jennifer Ford recalled that discussion in an interview with ABC News. She reiterated that the jury felt there was insufficient evidence to convict Casey of murder, which was her reasonable doubt.
"If you're going to charge someone with murder, don't you need to know how they killed someone or why they might have killed someone or have something, where, when, why, how?" Ford said. "Those are important questions, and they were not answered.”
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Ford also stated that the defense's version that Caylee accidentally drowned at the home of her grandparents, Cindy and George Anthony, was more credible than the prosecutors' theory.
"Obviously it wasn't proven, so I'm not taking that and not speculating at all," she added.
The aforementioned male juror spoke again in 2021 and said he agreed with Ford's assessment of the drowning theory. As he told PEOPLE Magazine, "It made sense to me ... and I remember thinking, 'Well, that would explain a hell of a lot.'"
Casey discusses the case in more detail in the three-part documentary Casey Anthony: Where The Truth Lies, which airs Nov. 29 on Peacock.

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