Alex Ferrer, a former criminal judge in Miami, said on Fox News that when jurors deliberate, they sometimes leave behind their common sense.
As a judge, Ferrer said he has seen many not-guilty verdicts when it was clear to him that the defendant was guilty.
So it was with the verdict in the murder trial of Casey Anthony.
Comments after the verdict by jurors and an alternate juror suggest they had no idea what their job was. They said the prosecution had not shown exactly how Caylee Anthony died, where she died, or when she died. That was not their obligation. Their obligation was to determine if Casey Anthony had killed her daughter.
Often defendants are convicted of murder even when a body is never found. In those cases, no one knows how they died. The state medical examiner in the Anthony case testified that the presence of duct tape around Caylee’s nose and mouth and the fact that she was found discarded in plastic bags clearly indicated she had been murdered. She ruled the death “undetermined homicide.” Yet the jurors disregarded that and insisted on speculating that Caylee could have drowned, as the defense proposed.
Drowning in swimming pools “is a major way that a lot of children die down here in Florida,” the jury foreman told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, as if that was relevant.
As for who did it, Casey Anthony’s failure to report the death of her daughter for 31 days, her lying to investigators trying to find her, and her obvious jubilation after the death of her daughter are as compelling as any DNA evidence.
The fact that multiple witnesses, including Casey’s mother, smelled what they described as a decomposed body in the trunk of Casey’s car nails the case shut for me. On top of that, Casey’s computer showed searches for information on chloroform. An expert from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee testified that “shockingly high” levels of chloroform were found in a sample of carpet from the trunk of her car.
Many commentators have said we must respect the findings of the jury and not second guess their decision. That is pure baloney. If we are to maintain our system of laws, we should respect the jury system. It is far better than carrying out lynchings in banana republics. But as demonstrated when juries convict people who are later exonerated by DNA evidence, juries are far from perfect. We have no obligation to pretend that they are by saying we respect their verdict however mindless it may be.
In the Casey Anthony case, the jury failed at its job, and a murderer went free.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," is to be released in August. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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