This will be the first article in a 3 part series revisiting the Casey Anthony trial. It is in part a review of the book Imperfect Justice, by Jeff Ashton. Moreover, it is also a revisiting of the case for me. I entered the trial of Casey Anthony like most Americans, firmly believing in her guilt. However, as the case went to the jury I was no longer convinced. I selected this book to give Prosecutor Jeff Ashton the chance to convince me.
I entered the book finding fault with the case against Casey. It’s not that I believed her to be innocent. I believed her to be not guilty in the legal sense. In other words, I wasn’t convinced of her innocence. I simply wasn’t convinced of her guilt for the following reasons.
- The prosecution couldn’t establish a cause of death, yet the manner of death was ruled a homicide. This was complicated with the discovery of the body. At that point, they altered their theory on how Caylee Anthony died.
- The duct tape on the skull. It had no DNA on it. Thus, it was hard to believe it was stuck to the skin of the corpse as it decomposed. Furthermore, it was found stuck to the skull. If it had been stuck to skin which decomposed leaving no DNA, how did it then stick to the skull?
- The failure of the prosecution to even consider George Anthony as a suspect. This point was speculative, I admit. It just seemed to me that they focused on Casey and molded the evidence to fit the suspect.
- Every witness called by the prosecution to testify against Casey Anthony agreed on one thing. They had never seen Casey mistreat or neglect Caylee. Moreover, they had never seen her even get angry with the child. This flew in the face of the assertion that Casey wanted to be rid of her. It’s a huge leap from good mom to killer mom with no sign of building frustration and hostility.
Can “Imperfect Justice” by Jeff Ashton convince me otherwise?
“It was very unusual for a jury, especially in a case like this, to fail to request something of the court.”Chapter 1 of Imperfect Justice
The book starts out with the wait for and reading of the verdict. Moreover, Jeff begins his criticism of the jury early on, implying that they didn’t do their due diligence because they didn’t request anything from the judge. However, it doesn’t seem to even cross his mind that this could be due to his failure to make a compelling case.
He then moves on to the 911 calls that got the case started, and the recovery of the car Casey had been driving from the impound lot. He gives the details of the case, which I will readily admit look bad for Casey.
- The smell reported by both parents as that of a dead body in the car. Moreover, George was a former cop with 15 years experience. He should know the smell. Likewise, Cindy as a former nurse would be familiar with it.
- Casey’s demeanor on that day was inconsistent with that of a concerned mother. She was observed as “calm and collected” by responding officers. George was as well, which Ashton attributes to his training as a cop.
- Casey’s lies to responding officers. Her story was so far fetched that they made her raise her right hand and swear to it.
Here is where Jeff starts to lose me. Notice how everything is turned against Casey and in favor of George right out of the gate? Allow me to explain.
1. The smell of death was in Casey’s car.
Was it? Notice how it’s George and Cindy’s car when it’s at the impound lot. They called the police to report it stolen. Yet suddenly, it becomes Casey’s car to the prosecution.
2. Casey was composed. That’s not how a worried mother should react.
Great point. It’s also not how a concerned grandfather should react. Yet his composure is attributed to his police training. Hers? Well obviously, she murdered her daughter. Moreover, Jeff Ashton compounds this error by selective application.
George Anthony was stoic when learning that his granddaughter had been missing for 31 days because of police training. Yet where was this training at the impound lot? Upon discovering the smell of a dead body in the vehicle his missing granddaughter had last been seen in, George prepares to open the trunk. Furthermore, in case you’re thinking he didn’t put 2 + 2 together right away, he issues the following quote before opening it.
Dear God, don’t let it be Casey or Caylee.George Anthony, Chapter 2
Yet this police officer of 15 years opens the trunk which he suspects to be a crime scene? Furthermore, upon opening it, he rummages through the trash bag? Moreover, when not finding a body but still believing death to be the source of the odor, he disposes of the trash bag. Removing suspected evidence from a suspected crime scene is kind of a big deal. I’m not a cop, but I highly doubt this is part of the training.
Furthermore, this behavior is also inconsistent with that of a concerned father and grandfather. Upon learning all of this, he returns to work. Moreover, upon missing a call from his wife, he sends his son to talk to her instead of returning the call to see what she has learned.
3. The motivating factors behind lying.
Casey Anthony lies to police. To Jeff, this is a guilty woman covering her tracks. However, both George and Cindy also lie to investigators. Jeff assesses this as an attempt to protect their daughter. In the case of Cindy, this seems like a fair assumption. With both George and Casey, however, he is way off base here.
George lied about putting duct tape that matched the tape at the crime scene on some gas cans. These were the same cans he reported stolen after Casey took them. Therefore, he couldn’t have been lying to protect her. His lie was the only thing that would place the tape found on the body in Casey’s hand.
Casey, on the other hand, needed no motivation to lie. She was living a lie. For 2 years she got up every morning and pretended to drop her daughter of with a nanny that didn’t exist so she could go to a job she didn’t have. Her lie is discovered once the daughter goes missing. In other words, she told that same lie for 23 months while the evidence shows the child was alive. However, once the child is dead that lie becomes evidence of her guilt in the killing? I find that to be beyond implausible. It’s downright absurd.
Imperfect Justice and the case against Casey.
I would tell the jury that Casey used chloroform to put Caylee to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer. Put duct tape over her nose and mouth. Wrapped her in her favorite Winnie the Pooh blanket, and put her in the trunk to die. She went off to Tony’s and went on with her life with Caylee dead in the trunk.
The next day she went back to her house after George and Cindy had left for work, and backed the Pontiac into the garage. She got the laundry bag and garbage bags off the shelf where they were kept, and took Caylee into the back yard to bury her. The shed was locked, so she couldn’t access the tools. She went next door to borrow a shovel from their neighbor, telling him she was transplanting bamboo.
Back in her own back yard she laid Caylee’s lifeless body on the grass. It appeared to us that she started a grave based on the cadaver dog alert, but she got lazy or scared and decided against burial there. She put Caylee back in the trunk, and either that day or the next snuck out to the woods, walked 20 feet in and dumped her body.Chapter 20
The problems with the case.
The first problem was their rush to judgment. Since they filed charges without a body, they developed the chloroform theory. Upon discovering the body with the duct tape over the face, the theory had to be revised. However, for some reason they stuck with the ridiculous chloroform story. They simply merged it in with the new theory. Moreover, I say “theory” because of their biggest problem. The medical examiner couldn’t determine a cause of death.
Their next problem is their tunnel vision. They view everything in the worst possible way for Casey, even when they’re clearly wrong. Take the shovel and aborted grave, for example. Their theory is ludicrous.
The cadaver dog hit on a spot one day, but not the next. Therefore it was likely a false hit. Furthermore, he mentions the shed was locked. What he fails to mention is that the shovel was returned with no dirt on it. Furthermore, the lock to the shed was broken and two gas cans removed. Gas cans Casey later returned.
Clearly Casey went there to steal gas. Hence, she borrowed the shovel to break the lock to get into the shed. This is a much more logical explanation.
Lastly, there’s the duct tape problem. Police recovered it from the shed. Thus, since the shed was locked and Casey clearly didn’t have a key, it’s possible that she didn’t even have access to the tape the previous day. That said, I don’t believe the duct tape was the murder weapon anyway.
Imperfect Justice requires an imperfect jury.
It all came down to the jury now. Could we get a jury with a modicum of intelligence that would see through the bombast and the lies? Could we get a jury that would care enough about Caylee to do the work necessary to see the truth? To see Casey for who and what she was.Chapter 18
I’m sorry, but I have to say this. Jeff Ashton is classless and a sore loser. That statement, coming from a prosecutor and directed at a jury, is way out of line. I guess, since he lost, the jury was stupid, lazy, and uncaring? Atrocious. It’s the jury’s job to decide guilt. The prosecutor simply makes the case. Disagree with their decision all you want. He’s entitled to do that. However, insulting them in this manner is uncalled for. Furthermore, it disparages the whole system.
This isn’t my only reason for saying this either. Here’s another quote that I found to be tasteless and offensive coming from a prosecutor.
Huntington described an experiment he had performed just for the Anthony case. He took the carcass of a pig, put it in the trunk of a car, and let it decompose over time. He showed the jury pictures of the rotting pig and all the flies at various stages of decomposition.
As he was making his presentation, Linda leaned over and whispered “he didn’t put his pigs in a blanket”. We both laughed and Linda dared me to actually say that during cross examination.
So when I was questioning Huntington I said “Well your experiment didn’t mimic the conditions under which Caylee’s body was wrapped. You didn’t put your pigs in a blanket, did you?” I immediately told the jury that someone dared me to say that.Chapter 24
This joke came from the same guy who had hoped the jury would “care enough about Caylee”. Unbelievable.
The sour grapes of Imperfect Justice.
Large sections of the book are dedicated to Jeff Ashton’s disdain for Jose Baez. He mocks his inexperience and lack of accomplishments. Baez was cocky without the record to back it up, according to him. Yet consider these quotes.
The fact that Baez and Mason had Judge Strickland removed from the case only to be replaced by Judge Belvin Perry was the stupidest move anybody in the Florida legal community had ever heard of. I loved the news.
“Where is the best place you could imagine we would go” she asked. “Tampa” I said. She looked at me and said “Pinellas county”. So for all of Baez’ efforts to get the jury from his old stomping grounds, we were going to get them from mine.
Consider this. Jeff Ashton got the Judge he wanted. He got the jury from the best place imaginable. Moreover, he was going up against an inexperienced attorney who made the stupidest move anyone in Florida had ever heard of. Yet he lost. One might think this might make him reconsider his case. However, he does no such thing.
After the trial, Jeff reflected on the notion that Baez seemed to think George Anthony may have been involved.
The only area where George was an actual suspect was in the minds of Baez and Casey.Chapter 25
According to the prosecution, the Pontiac was a crime scene. The bag of trash was entered into evidence. George Anthony owned the car. Outside of his testimony, he was the last person to see Caylee alive. A former police officer, he removed evidence from a crime scene after stating it smelled like a dead body. Yet he was never a suspect.
My conclusion on Imperfect Justice by Jeff Ashton.
I’ve been a bit hard on the author, and dismissive of the case he laid out in the book. However, this is a must read if you’re wanting to fully understand the Casey Anthony trial. It is full of insights you need to really know and understand the case. I do reccomend Imperfect Justice by Jeff Ashton for this reason.
From a “true crime” perspective, the book leaves a lot to be desired. Too many stones were left unturned by a narrowly focused prosecution. They were determined to get Casey Anthony. However, they should’ve been determined to solve the case. Unfortunately they weren’t, and for this reason we may never fully understand what happened.