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Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty of Murder; President Obama Calls Urgent Debt Crisis Talks

Aired July 5, 2011 - 17:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, GUEST HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the bombshell verdict. Casey Anthony found not guilty of first degree murder, or manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. This hour, extended, in-depth coverage. How jurors reached this decision. The shock and the second guessing. And what's likely to happen to Casey Anthony next.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Joe Johns and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tears of joys from Casey Anthony and gasps of surprise, from many Americans who have been glued to her murder trial. Jurors in Orlando, Florida, clearing Anthony of all the most serious counts against her in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

We have a release from the family of Casey Anthony, that was just released moments ago. It says, in part, "While the family may never know what happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives. Despite the baseless defense chosen by the Casey Anthony," referring to pointing of the fingers, of course, to parents and family members.

"The family believes the jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented, and the rules given to them by the Honorable Judge Perry to guide them. The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately."

This huge win for the defense came after less than two full days of deliberations. 25-year-old Anthony was found guilty on lesser counts of lying. But now it's very possible this woman, who could have faced the death penalty, won't face any prison time.

Standing by to hear the latest reactions and analysis, right now, watch and listen to the dramatic moments when the verdict was read.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "In the Circuit Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and for Orange County Florida, the State of Florida Versus Casey Marie Anthony, as to case number 2008DF15606-0, as to the charge of first- degree murder, verdict as to count one, we, the jury, find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Orlando, Orange County, Florida, on this 5th day of July, 2001," signed "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of aggravated child abuse, verdict as to count two, we, the jury, find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this fifth day of July, 2011," signed "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child, verdict as to count three, we, the jury, find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this 5th day of July, 2011." Signed, "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of providing false information to a law enforcement officer, verdict as to count four, we, the jury, find the defendant guilty of providing false information to a law enforcement officer as charged in the indictment, so say we all, dated Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this 5th day of July, 2011," signed, "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of providing false information to a law enforcement officer, verdict as to count five, we, the jury, find the defendant guilty of providing false information to a law enforcement officer, as charged in the indictment, so say we all, dated, Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this 5th day of July, 2011," signed, "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of providing false information to a law enforcement officer, verdict as to count six, we, the jury, find the defendant guilty of providing false information to a law enforcement officer as charged in the indictment, so say we all, dated Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this 5th day of July, 2011," signed "Foreperson."

"As to the charge of providing false information to a law enforcement officer, the verdict as to count seven, we, the jury, find the defendant guilty as providing false information to the law enforcement officer as charged in the indictment, so say we all, dated Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this 5th day of July, 2011," signed, "Foreperson."


JOHNS: You can see the raw emotion there, on Casey Anthony's face as the verdict was read. A lot to digest about this verdict.

Let's go now straight to Orlando and CNN's Martin Savidge.

Martin, take us inside the courtroom, if you will. What was it like there? And just tell us a little bit about all you have seen and heard today.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's back up to just before the verdict is read. It was announced that there was going to be a verdict. We were told, those of us waiting in the media room, 2:15. That's immediately when the adrenaline kicked in because everyone knew this was going to be big.

I have to tell you that a lot of the journalists up there believed it was going to be bad news for Casey Anthony. Because it was felt that the jury really hadn't not deliberated that long. Off we go, we file into the courtroom. As we wait for the judge, it is deathly silent in there. Everybody is in there, but nobody is saying a word. We saw the defense team, we saw the prosecution there. Jose Baez was late to arrive.

Then Casey Anthony came in. When she walked in that courtroom, all eyes laser fixed on her. And you could see this was a terrified young woman. She sat down. You could see she was trembling. You could see the emotion in her face. You saw Cheney Mason, one of her attorneys, and you saw Jose Baez get down on bended knee and actually get very close to her and start talking to her.

Then the judge comes in, then the jury comes in, and then you heard the verdict. Complete change of emotions then from what you saw, from abject fear to what was just pure elation. And there she was holding on to the hand of Jose Baez. And then once everything had been read, no other sound in the courtroom except the sobbing of an entire defense team. It was like they all let out this great sob at once, and then you saw the piling on, as they all began hugging and holding on to one another.

Very emotional, but the interesting thing was not a sound from anywhere else in that courtroom. It was as if all the air in the room had been sucked out. Nobody else said anything, and everyone left, leaving that defense team celebrating, crying and then eventually breaking into laughter.

JOHNS: Martin that is fascinating. I know there are a lot of people who predicted that if there was a short period of time, that the jury was out, it was more likely or not a guilty verdict. So, I think, many, many people were surprised at this turn of events in the courtroom. Thanks so much for that reporting. And we will be getting back to you.

Now let's bring in our Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, I know you watched this with some interest as well. What's your reaction to the verdict?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this was a problematic case. There was a lot of very hostile press coverage, but this was a case without a cause of death, without a time of death, without even a prosecution scenario of how Casey Anthony actually killed her daughter. Those gaps turned out to loom very large. There were just, I think, too many questions for the jury, even though Casey Anthony clearly behaved in a repugnant way. There just wasn't enough proof that she actually killed her daughter.

JOHNS: All about reasonable doubt, in the end. But she was convicted on these false statement charges. Tell me how much time she could get for that. They're misdemeanors, aren't they? TOOBIN: These are misdemeanors. And in a case where the death penalty was on the table, a misdemeanor is so trivial as to be insignificant. Casey Anthony has already served three years in prison, awaiting trial. She hasn't been out on bail. It is inconceivable to me that she would get anything other than time served on Thursday. In fact, I think her lawyers were perhaps so stunned by the verdict, they made a mistake today in not asking for immediate release, and immediate bail. Because-just the way misdemeanor sentences are handled in this country, there is no way she will get more than three years. I think the odds are overwhelming that Casey Anthony gets released on Thursday at 9:00 a.m., when she gets sentenced.

JOHNS: Yes, you know, it was a little surprising to see her step back by the judge there. Is there any possibility perhaps that he did that for her own protection, given the fact that there's been so much publicity, or whatever? And do you think he would have said that if that was the case?

TOOBIN: No, I really don't. Because you know, prison is prison, and it stinks. No one wants to be there. I don't care how much publicity there is. You can always find some place that's better than being in jail. I think frankly everyone in the room was too caught up in the moment, too relieved on the defense side, that a sentence of 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, the death penalty was off the table. The difference between today and Thursday just didn't seem big enough to worry about.

But frankly, I think any judge, when presented the question squarely would have let her out today. Because, you know, a misdemeanor is not going to get you longer than she actually has already served.

JOHNS: Jeff Toobin, thanks so much for that. Stay right there. We'll be getting back to you.

Seven woman and five men held Casey Anthony's fate in their hands. We'll tell you what we know about the jurors who delivered those bombshell not guilty verdicts today. And why have so many people been fascinated by this trial. From the crowds at the courthouse to the millions who watch it on TV. A psychologist shares his insights ahead.


JOHNS: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File"-Jack.


Like millions of Americans I got sucked in to watching the Casey Anthony murder trial. Over the July Fourth weekend I spent several hours, on my couch, engrossed in watching closing arguments. Fascinated by the skill, particularly of the prosecutors as they practiced their craft at the highest level in pursuit of justice for a little 2-year-old girl who couldn't speak for herself. It was the stuff of high drama. And for six weeks, the country has been riveted to the goings on inside that courtroom down in Orlando, Florida. Our sister networks, HLN and TruTV, have mined ratings gold from this trial, garnering some of the highest ratings in their histories. But why? It isn't the first time a mother has been put on trial for the death of her child. It is not the first time there have been television cameras in the courtroom. And it's not the first time that a defendant has been caught in countless lies and cover-ups, or been depicted as less than a stand up person during testimony. Nor was it the first time a defendant showed little emotion throughout it all.

But for some reason, the country couldn't seem to get enough. It was almost like O.J. all over again. Right down to the outcome. The verdict left a lot of people scratching their heads. After my weekend on the couch watching these proceedings, I would have bet on a guilty verdict, and I would have been dead wrong.

Here's the question: Why did the Casey Anthony murder trial captivate the nation? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

I flipped this thing on, on Sunday morning and before I knew it, it was like 2:00 in the afternoon. And I wouldn't moved except to get up and go get something to eat. It was pretty high theatre.

JOHNS: I can't agree with you more, Jack. I turned it on too, to watch the closing arguments, and couldn't tear myself away from it.


JOHNS: Really interested in seeing some of those answers.

CAFFERTY: Yes, very compelling stuff.

JOHNS: That's for sure. Jack Cafferty, thanks.

From day one, Casey Anthony and what happened to her daughter Caylee transfixed millions of Americans who were glued to every second of the trial.

I'm joined now by psychologist and Temple University professor, Frank Farley.

And, Frank, why has there been such a fascination with this trial?

FRANK FARLEY, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Joe, I think all sorts of things. Probably, number one is the media saturated us with it, right? And we just couldn't escape. But there were reasons for that.

I think one of the key ingredients is the uncertainty and the ambiguity. This was an all-time ambiguous trial, you know, just didn't seem to be any solid forensic evidence. It really was a psychological trials, was mostly emotions, and feelings and perceptions. So, the uncertainty was extremely high and that's the crime ingredient that engages. That's why we love mystery stories and movies that have a mystery, you know? Never tell anybody the ending of a movie, right? So, I think the uncertainty was a big factor. Lying, I mean, we've never seen so much lying. And that's always of interests to people.

The courtroom culture, you know, we've -- we thrive on courtroom culture, this is the real thing. This wasn't a fictional portrayal.

JOHNS: Well, let -- I'm sorry, don't let me interrupt. But I did want to jump in and just asking, you know, here in Washington, D.C., we have this ongoing controversy about television cameras in the courtroom. It goes all the way up to the Supreme Court.

What do you think was the impact of television cameras watching this whole spectacle in the courtroom in Florida?

FARLEY: Oh, obviously, very important. If there were no courtroom cameras, who would know about this trial basically? And so, you know, it just took over.

And again, this is the real thing. I mean, this is reality TV, and with life or death consequences. And so, you know, it's got implications of the dark side -- gee, could a mother do something like that? Kill her child and throw her into the bushes? I mean, that's about as dark of an idea as heinous a thought as we had in the history of human horror.

So, it was all there, you know? Family -- family with all these issues, and a child. At the center of this whole thing was a beautiful, sweet, innocent child who somehow or another died and was found in a bag in the bushes. And, you know, that arouses Americans more than just anything.

JOHNS: Let me pick up on your question about family. So much has been made about the dysfunctionality of this family that was sort of laid out before us on television screens. Do you think when we saw that dysfunctionality, we saw some of that in our own families and related to that?

FARLEY: Oh, sure. Absolutely. We might be thinking about parenting, one's own parenting style and how did this thing go wrong.

And you see inside this family, you know, it was almost like we had a window in there. Unfortunately, this whole trial was mess, you know? It was -- the ambiguity was so high that we sort of walk away not really learning a lot, you know, about ourselves. I don't think we could see ourselves reflected very much in that family or in many of the players in this drama.

JOHNS: All right.

FARLEY: And then the psychology of it, you know? It was just all between our ears.

JOHNS: Frank Farley, thanks so much for that. We appreciate that, from Temple University. Now, I just want to go to Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew." He's joining us live from New York.

And what's your take on all of this? Do you agree with it?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN'S "DR. DREW": Oh, I think Professor Farley did a wonderful job laying it all out. I would even add to what he had said, to say we got sex and drugs on top of that. We've got a young woman who was attractive, who's been acting out sexually, which is a particular profile that the public saves special enmity and energy for. We love to gather together and really almost have a sacrificial impulse for the young female who is misbehaving.

So, she's misbehaving with drugs. She's misbehaving sexually. And the very core issue, as Professor Farley pointed out, of mothering.

And I'll tell you what, women have been ruthless with Casey Anthony. They are absolutely beside themselves with the verdict.

JOHNS: Well, interesting that you should say that, there's such entertainment value in a case like that. But you're absolutely right. I mean, from my interactions and conversations with people, in Twitter, and Facebook or whatever, I get a sense that there was not a lot of sympathy for Casey Anthony, even though there seem to be pretty large gaps in some of the evidence.

PINSKY: That's right. And clearly, the jury saw the same thing. There's at least reasonable doubt.

There's no doubt -- here's what we do know: Casey is a liar. She's a liar. She's not a good parent and that's about all we know. And she behaved in ways that were absolutely unthinkable, knowing that her child was dead, just egregious kinds of behavior.

But whether or not she knowingly took action on this child, there was just a lot of missing pieces of that and people still feel that she got away with something nonetheless.

JOHNS: Now, if you step back from this and look at some of the other big mega-trials we've had over the years on television, do you get the impression that every time someone is on trial, on television, everybody is talking about it -- there really is a large proportion, if you will, of the public expecting a conviction. Why is that that we don't separate the possibility of guilty from not guilty?

PINSKY: You ask, and again, I'm not saying whether she did or didn't do it. You're asking a specific question about the crowd behavior. And we' got a long history of that to this country, all the way back to Salem, Massachusetts, don't we?

And, we -- you know, and I will, without pointing a finger or without saying that there is sort of those kinds of behavior, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that, generally, people feel really good about gathering together with one another and sharing a disdain for one. But they put one up on a pedestal and it's almost a sacrificial impulse we have as a way of galvanizing ourselves together as a culture and a whole against that one. And when that one, as Professor Farley points out, trigger so much psychological material that is so evocative for us. Then that one, we decide, we're the judge and jury of public opinion and we want some action.

JOHNS: Dr. Drew, as always, thanks so much for giving us your thoughts in THE SITUATION ROOM.

PINSKY: My pleasure.

JOHNS: Casey Anthony cleared of murder. Some of the people who actually looked at this case really believed she was innocent, in fact. We'll have that coming up.

We have much more on the public reaction to this sensational case. And Casey Anthony's defense team withstood a lot of criticism throughout the trial, but there was a key moment when prosecutors won over the jury or not. We're taking a closer look.


JOHNS: We're following the breaking news. Casey Anthony not guilty of murder and the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Reaction are still coming in at the stunning verdict in this trial that has gripped much of the nation. The jury's decision read in Orlando, Florida, a short while ago -- cleared on all the most serious counts, including first degree murder and manslaughter.

CNN's David Mattingly joins us from Orlando.

And, David, a huge crowd, it looks like, has actually been there throughout the trial almost. And give me some idea who these people are.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, the crowd can generally be divided into two camps. So, one -- people just attracted by the drama and the spectacle of all of this. And for people coming to look for drama today, they were not disappointed by the ending.

But there are people by the thousands, possibly millions across the country who have been emotionally invested in this case, looking for justice for little Caylee. And they're the one who are really stunned by what happened today.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in total shock. I mean, everything that's happened, it's basically like you almost have to film and watch somebody commit a crime and have it on video for something to happen today. It's disturbing. I don't know what else to say. I don't know. I got to get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very upset just because justice wasn't found. Evidence was there, the duct tape. I thought Ashton did a great job of proving his case. And I'm really surprised the jury didn't take -- didn't prove her guilty because the evidence is there.

And I'm really upset. And I just feel really bad because no one wins in this situation. There's a 2 1/2-year-old that's dead and it's just really sad.


MATTINGLY: Now, the crowd -- the crowd here outside the courthouse has pretty much dissipated right now. They have typically been gathering to see if they can get tickets for the next day, but now that there is no next day in the trial, there is no crowd out here.

We did learn today that the Orange County sheriff has deputies out in the neighborhood where Casey Anthony's parents live. They are there to direct traffic. They're making sure that only people who get into that neighborhood are people who live there and people who belong there. They're concerned that too many onlookers might be trying to go into that area and perhaps go over to the woods where Caylee Anthony's body was discovered.

This evening, we heard from the sheriff who spoke out here through the media. He didn't take any questions. But he did act like he was a little bit concerned about the public reaction. He said that people should respect the decision that the jury has made. He called for peaceful acknowledgment of the verdict and he called on everyone to maintain your peaceful resolve -- Joe.

JOHNS: So, there are a whole bunch of questions. I guess, the first one is, given the fact that there is security out there in the neighborhood -- is there any sense as to how long they can keep that security up. And I supposed a related question is: do you feel as though you've been seeing something of a mob mentality there? Or these folks who think -- just made up their minds and now they're upset, or what?

MATTINGLY: I would not call this a mob mentality at all. After the verdict was read outside the crowd that did gather, only a couple of times, you could hear someone shouting out. It was just an individual. I think they would say something like where's the justice? There wasn't a mob mentality here at all.

Right now, in fact, like I said, the crowd has dissipated outside the courthouse. I don't know if you can hear it on the microphones we have here and over the noise of the news helicopters over my head. But back behind me, there was a lone trumpet player right now playing out "Amazing Grace," very slowly and in a very sad cadence, possibly related to the case today.

JOHNS: So, the security in the neighborhood then would just be purely precautionary?

MATTINGLY: They announced that they were going to have that yesterday and, in fact, they were talking about onlookers -- people who sort of had a sort of tourist mentally going into that neighborhood, just wanting to see where the Anthonys live, wanting to see where Caylee Anthony's body was discovered.

The people who live there are concerned now that the trial is over that there's just going to be too much public attention and they want to make sure they can get back to their lives as early as they can. Of course, the Anthonys are already putting out a statement today saying they want to do the same and they know it's going to take a long, long time for them to rebuild their lives.

So, the Orange County sheriff tonight just making sure that the residents out there get their wish, have a little bit of peace after this very highly and intensely watched trial.

JOHNS: David Mattingly, appreciate your reporting -- thanks so much for that.

Twelve jurors deliberated less than 11 hours before proclaiming Casey Anthony not guilty of the most serious charges in the death of her little daughter Caylee. So, who are these men and women behind the decision that's being analyzed across the country right now?

Our Brian Todd is looking into that -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, we had seven women, five men. Ten of them were white, two of them African-American.

In talking to jury experts today, they all said what very likely swayed these jurors was the prosecution's inability to pinpoint a specific cause of death or a specific time when Caylee Anthony died. One expert said that when prosecutor Jeff Ashton said in his closing argument that, "We can only hope that chloroform was used beforehand to knock Caylee out so she could have died in peace," he said that was key.

This expert, Robert Hirschorn (ph), said that when the prosecutors couldn't pinpoint whether she died of chloroform exposure or of suffocation, he believes that was when this jury was influenced by that one comment. None of the experts we spoke to believe that one specific juror tilted this case -- Joe.

JOHNS: But some of the jurors' professional experience could have played into this, of course.

TODD: That's right. Now, some experts point to juror number two.

This is an African-American man in his 40s who works in the IT industry. There was key.

There was a lot of testimony about computer searches on chloroform, how to make it, how to use it, whether Casey Anthony's mother Cindy did those searches or did not do them, whether she was at work when the searches were done on her family's home computer. One expert said this juror's background was key. He says IT experts use high levels of logic, connecting dots very exactly. When those dots became a little inexact in this case with the computer searches, this juror very likely figured that out.

JOHNS: Now, Brian, there was one juror who the prosecution didn't want and actually tried to get rid of.

TODD: That's right. This was a very -- you know, this was a very key moment in the case during jury selection.

This is juror number 4, an African-American woman in her 50s. The prosecution tried three times to throw her out, tried to use a preemptory challenge, because she said she didn't like to judge people during jury selection.

The defense used what's called a Batson challenge to try to keep her. That's a challenge saying you can't toss out a juror based on race.

Now, remember, the prosecution only said we don't want her there because she doesn't like to judge people. But in the end, the judge sided with the defense, kept her on. Experts tell us, though, that in the end, they don't think this particular juror swung the case.

JOHNS: Now, there were actually two people who didn't want to be on this jury at all. I'm surprised it was only two.

TODD: Most of the experts told us they're surprised it was only two as well.

Juror numbers 2 and 6 both said they didn't want to be on the jury. Both of them are men, one in his 30s, one in his 40s, both married with two young children.

Experts say it is not unusual at all for a potential jurors not to want to be seated in a case like this. It's a death penalty case, high profile, high pressure, long sequestration from your family.

Experts told us, like you, Joe, they are surprised that only two of them didn't want to be there.

JOHNS: Absolutely. I've actually been a jury foreman years and years and years ago, and I really did not like the experience at all.

TODD: Oh, tough job. It really is.

JOHNS: Thanks so much, Brian Todd.

The defense won, but there was plenty of criticism of lawyers on both sides. Stand by for the hits and misses in the Casey Anthony trial and how they influenced the final verdict.


JOHNS: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including an update on the man accused of shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- Mary.

SNOW: Hi there, Joe.

Well, a federal appeals court is suspending the forced medication of alleged gunman Jared Loughner until it hears arguments from Loughner's attorneys. He's accused of killing six people in a January rampage. He's been diagnosed with schizophrenia. A judge found him incompetent to stand trial and ruled he could be forced to take anti- psychotic drugs.

Montana's governor is touring oil-stricken areas of the Yellowstone River today. Since Friday, at least 42,000 gallons of oil have poured through a crack in one of ExxonMobil's pipelines. Cleanup efforts are under way, and ExxonMobil says it closed down the pipeline within minutes, but the spill has spread as far as 15 miles from the initial leak site.

And in Iraq, two bombs tore through a government building north of Baghdad today. Iraqi police say the explosions killed at least 35 people and injured 28 others. While sectarian violence in Iraq has diminished, bombings and attacks are still a daily occurrence. That's heightening concern about what will happen when U.S. troops withdraw by January 1st under a U.S./Iraqi security agreement -- Joe.

JOHNS: Mary Snow, thanks so much for that.

Casey Anthony's attorneys blast the media, saying they rushed to unfair judgment. And that's not all they're saying. Prosecutors are also speaking out, next.

Anthony's parents were in courtroom as the verdict was announced. Did their testimony make the difference for their daughter? We're taking a closer look.


JOHNS: Looking at a live picture there of the street outside the home of Cindy and George Anthony in the Orlando, Florida, area. As you can see, a lot of traffic trying to get around a number of law enforcement officers. We heard earlier, just a little while ago from David Mattingly, they have been sent out into the neighborhood protectively just now, after the verdict in the Casey Anthony case.

Of course, Casey Anthony was stepped back by the judge today and still locked up even though all anticipation is she will be released after a court hearing on Thursday.

Casey Anthony's lawyer says he hopes his client will get her life back together now that she's been cleared in the death of her 2-year- old daughter Caylee.

More of our breaking news coverage now. Members of the defense team offering emotional statements, soon after the verdict was read. The defense attorney, Jose Baez, talked about the Anthony case and justice and the death penalty.


JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I want to start off by saying that while we're happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case. Caylee has passed on, far, far too soon. And what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey, because Casey did not murder Caylee. It's that simple.


JOHNS: Now let's here from the prosecutors. They acknowledged the evidence they presented did not eliminate all reasonable doubt, and they refused to criticize the work of the jury.


LAWSON LAMAR, STATE ATTORNEY: We're disappointed with the verdict today and surprised because we know the facts and we put in absolutely every piece of evidence that existed. Our team did an exemplary job. I'm proud of them and I stand by their work. I never, ever criticize a jury. Theirs is the task of deciding what to believe.


JOHNS: Now let's get back to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

And Jeff, it's funny. When you look at this case, so much now is about the prosecution and the kind of case they presented, but the defense has also been criticized for making certain assertions during opening statements that they were not able to back up during the course of the evidence.

It looks like perhaps the defense also had some problems.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, trials are a little like elections in that if you win, it seems like everything you did was right. And if you lose, everything you did was wrong.

Now, human beings, being what they are, real life doesn't work that way. People make mistakes, they do well, and, you know, life is more complicated.

But I certainly thought it was very odd that the defense put forth this story that the father had abused Casey. I mean, that had no place in the trial, and there was no proof of it at the trial since Casey herself never testified.

Look, I am virtually certain that when the jury decides to speak, as I suspect they will, sooner, rather than later, they will simply come back to the question of reasonable doubt and say look, we didn't have a time of death, we didn't have a method of death, we didn't have a place of death. Those questions, especially in a first-degree murder case, are so important, and the circumstantial evidence was strong, and there is plenty of people in prison because of circumstantial evidence. It just wasn't enough, especially in a case with the death penalty on the table.

JOHNS: There was a moment on Sunday when Jose Baez, the defense attorney, was speaking to the jury in his closing arguments, and you could see the prosecutor actually snickering. Apparently, with his hand over his face.

And I want you to look at that. We'll talk about it. And my question to you is, did the prosecution blow it? Check this out.


BAEZ: We're not talking about fantasy forensics anymore. We're talking about cold, hard evidence, evidence that points to one person and one person only.

And he can get up here and lie all he wants, and dance around the truth, but the truth is the truth. And depending on who's asking the questions, whether it's this laughing guy right here or whether it's myself --

JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, objection.


Approach the bench.


JOHNS: You get the gist. The judge stopped the trial and apparently admonished everybody.

Do you think the prosecution created a problem for itself right there?

TOOBIN: I don't think something like that mattered very much. And I tend to be a believer that lawyers don't matter as much as many people think they do.

I think jurors focus a great deal on the evidence and not so much on the theatrics. I doubt that smile or laughing had anything to do with the verdict.

If you can fault the prosecutors for one thing, I think it's this -- it's turning this case into a death penalty case. This was a case where the facts were so uncertain. Even though the death of a 2-year- old is such an obvious tragedy, by turning it into a death penalty case, they essentially raised the stakes in such a way that I think they raised more questions than they answered.

And that's the big question of mistakes by the prosecutors. It's bringing this case and charging first-degree murder. You know, the little bits of trial theatrics I don't think matter much one way or the other. But the real hard question I think is why this was a death penalty case. JOHNS: It was also a little hard to discern as you listened, at least to the closing arguments, what the motive was, or what the suspected motive was. Is that something that would tie up a jury and make them come back with a not guilty verdict?

TOOBIN: Well, again, motive is one of those subjects that is not technically an element of the crime, but juries always want to know, why did someone do something? And one of the sort of motives put forth was that Casey wanted to go out and party and her child was a burden. But they didn't prove that.

That was not proved in this case. And again, there seemed to be some real overreaching in terms of the evidence on the prosecutor.

And you heard it a little bit in that clip, when the defense got to seize on what seemed like very questionable science that was put forth here like, you know, the smell in the car was the smell of death. That's not DNA evidence. That not real scientific evidence.

That kind of thing gave the defense the opening to say look, this case was overcharged. It was overdone. And they didn't have the proof to back it up.

JOHNS: And there's also the question of the cause of death, too, this business about chloroform and so on. That seemed to be something not necessarily pulled out of whole cloth, but it still required a leap of faith. Did it not?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And you had the fact that Casey apparently Googled "chloroform." That's a bad fact for the defense. No doubt about that. I think most people don't Google "chloroform" very often, especially before a child is found dead.

But again, without a cause of death, what difference does it make that she Googled "chloroform"? I mean, you have to tie the pieces together, and without a cause of death, without a time of death, without a method of death -- you know, how did she die, was she strangled, was she chloroformed -- we don't know. And that's an invitation to reasonable doubt from a jury.

JOHNS: Senior Legal Analyst Jeff Toobin.

Thanks so much for that.

A lot of people put their lives on hold to watch the Casey Anthony trial as it unfolded day by day. Why did this trial captivate the nation? You're telling Jack Cafferty.

There was raw emotion on Casey Anthony's face when the verdict was read. We're finding out if you think the jury got it right or wrong.


JOHNS: Jack Cafferty is back now joining us once again with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Indeed, Joe.

The question this hour is: Why did the Casey Anthony murder trial captivate the nation?

John writes, "The story is reality TV. As TV viewers, we like train wrecks, hot body contests, people who don't exist, and then over-the-top families. Jerry Springer couldn't have written a better script."

Virginia in Georgia writes, "I think Nancy Grace is responsible for our interest. We all waited for Caylee to be found. We were all astonished by Casey's response when she was. I was impressed with the prosecutors, somewhat disappointed with the defense. I hated that their main defense was to discredit apparently good people in their zeal to win the case, but the jury saw something I didn't."

Kevin in California writes, "Wrong. It captivated the media."

Marty writes, "The state didn't prove its case. The people still want her blood. Now what happens if they prove it wasn't Casey but someone else? Will the media give her a public apology, since they publicly convicted her?"

Angela in Charlotte, North Carolina, "Totally media driven. And sadly, the more gruesome, shocking, and heinous the crime appears to be, the more interest there is. Bring on the gladiators, Jack. It appears society is ready for them again."

Tonya writes, "The fact that a child was murdered is enough to captivate people. Look at JonBenet Ramsey. Nobody has ever been arrested in her killing either. When a child gets murdered and their photos get put on television, it's hard not to get caught up in the story."

Ronda in New York writes, "If you think the trial captivated the nation, the verdict got the nation's attention even more. Although the jury returned a not guilty verdict, that doesn't mean that Casey Anthony didn't kill Caylee. Most people think she did."

"Like the O.J. Simpson case, the message in this case is that juries don't reach verdicts solely on the evidence present, but on which side has the best lawyers. Baez proved to be more clever than the prosecutors. Justice has failed little Caylee Anthony, and her mother will now be able to go back to partying without her child getting in the way. It's very sad."

And Wilhelm writes, "Anything tabloid sells, Jack. The fact that you have two questions about this trial today proves that. As the kids say, 'Well, duh.'"

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog,

A ton of mail on this, Joe. It's something that people are very interested in, apparently. JOHNS: I bet there is. And we're going to have even more about that question of whether all of this was media driven. So stay tuned for that, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Yes, it was.


JOHNS: You said it.

We're continuing our breaking news coverage of the stunning verdict. We're live at the courthouse in Orlando.

Could Casey Anthony be leaving jail within days, even hours?

Plus, Anthony faced the death penalty. Could that have played a role in the verdict? We're asking a jury expert.


JOHNS: Another major story we're following, a new move by President Obama to break the stalemate over the debt and prevent a new crisis for the U.S. economy. He's invited Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to come to the White House Thursday for talks.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.

Dan, are we any closer to having a deal?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I don't think that anybody here believes that they're close to getting a deal. You still hear White House aides talking about tough terrain that needs to be crossed, but they do believe that they're making some progress.

Over the weekend, the president met with -- or had discussions with leadership from both parties, and they believe that significant progress is being made. You heard the president talk about that today, when he popped into the briefing room to make some brief remarks.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that greater progress is within sight, but I don't want to fool anybody. We still have to work through some real differences.

Now, I've heard reports that there may be some in Congress who want to do just enough to make sure that America avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term, but then wants to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit. I don't share that view.


LOTHIAN: Now, just enough, what the president is referring to there, Joe, is what we were talking about yesterday, where there had been some in Washington talking about possibly having a mini deal, whereby they have six or eight months to really hammer out a long-term deal. The president making it clear that that's not something he will support.

I pushed spokesman Jay Carney on that, whether at the last minute, if this is something the president would embrace, and he said no.

JOHNS: So, have the congressional Republicans gotten an opportunity to sort of weigh in on this yet, Dan?

LOTHIAN: They have. And, I mean, I think when you're looking at and listening to what they're saying, it shows that there's still a big divide.

Speaker Boehner, releasing a statement shortly after the president came out, saying, in part, "The legislation the president has asked for -- which would increase tacks on small businesses and destroy more American jobs -- cannot pass the House. As I have stated repeatedly, the American people simply won't stand for it and their elected representatives in Congress won't vote for it. I'm happy to discuss these issues at the White House," he said, "but such discussions will be fruitless until the president recognizes economic and legislative reality."

It sounds like a lot of work cut out for them as those leaders come here to the White House on Thursday -- Joe.

JOHNS: That's for sure. And we're not at the end of the story yet, but time is ticking. Isn't it?

Thanks so much.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

JOHNS: Thanks so much, Dan Lothian.