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Anthony sentenced but will go free on July 17

4-year term for lying; credit for time served

Casey Anthony (left), with lawyer Dorothy Clay Sims, has received death threats since her acquittal on murder charges. Casey Anthony (left), with lawyer Dorothy Clay Sims, has received death threats since her acquittal on murder charges. (Joe Burbank/Reuters Pool)
By Timothy Williams
New York Times / July 8, 2011

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Casey Anthony, who earlier this week was found not guilty of killing her daughter, was sentenced yesterday to four years in jail for lying to investigators but will be released July 17 after getting credit for time served.

Her case has riveted much of the country, which became entranced by tales of a duplicitous young mother who was said by prosecutors to be more interested in bar-hopping than caring for her child.

It was not immediately clear where Anthony, 25, would go after her release. She lived with her parents in Orange County, in Florida, before her 2008 arrest in connection with the death of her daughter, Caylee Marie, 2, but part of her trial defense was that she had been abused by her father and that her family was dysfunctional.

Anthony was fined $1,000 and sentenced to the maximum term of four years for each of the misdemeanor counts of lying to law enforcement officers investigating Caylee’s disappearance and death. Anthony showed no visible emotion yesterday as her sentence was being read, but had been smiling and talking to her lawyers beforehand.

As the hearing was taking place inside the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando yesterday, a small group of protesters outside rallied against Anthony’s acquittal on murder charges. One sign read, “Arrest the Jury.’’

Her lawyers have said she has received numerous death threats since she was acquitted of the most serious charges Tuesday.

The four counts of lying that Anthony was convicted of occurred when she falsely claimed that her daughter had disappeared, that she was employed at Universal Studios when she did not work there, that she had left Caylee with a baby sitter when there was no baby sitter, and that her daughter had called her on the telephone the day she was reported as missing.

Anthony’s lawyers had sought to have those charges combined into a single criminal act, but Judge Belvin Perry Jr. of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court ruled against the motion.

During the nearly six-week trial, prosecutors said Anthony rendered her daughter unconscious with chloroform before suffocating her by placing duct tape over her nose and mouth. Afterward, prosecutors said, she dumped the girl’s body in a wooded area, where it was found about six months later not far from the Anthonys’ house.

The defense argued that Caylee drowned accidentally in the family swimming pool and that the death had been concealed by Caylee’s grandfather, George Anthony, which he denied during testimony.

The jury, which had been sequestered for the trial, reached its decision to acquit Anthony on charges of murder and aggravated child abuse in less than 11 hours. If convicted of those crimes, Anthony would have faced a possible death sentence.

There was no direct evidence linking Anthony to the death of her child, and the prosecution’s case rested on circumstantial evidence. The child’s body, once found, was too badly decomposed for a cause of death to be determined.

At least one juror, Jennifer Ford, a 32-year-old nursing student, has said that while the panel was not convinced that Anthony was innocent, there simply was not enough evidence to convict her. “I did not say she was innocent,’’ Ford told ABC News. “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.’’

Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008. Her remains were found Dec. 11 of that year in woods near the Anthony home. Anthony failed to report Caylee missing for 31 days. During that time period, Anthony got a tattoo that said “bella vita,’’ or beautiful life.

The defense acknowledged Anthony’s many deceptions but said they happened because she had been sexually abused by her father and had been taught to lie her entire life. Anthony, who testified tearfully during the trial, denied abusing his daughter and finding Caylee in the pool.

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