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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Casey Anthony Going Home Next Week
Aired July 7, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joy and a lot of sorrow all at the same time.
FOREMAN: And when the tourist depart this time, all that will be left is a suddenly, shockingly, empty sky.
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FOREMAN: To all our astronauts and all of you, thanks for joining us. We'll see you on launch day. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Six days until freedom. A judge throws the book at Casey Anthony, but with time served, she will go free next week.
KAREN LEVEY, DIRECTOR, DUE PROCESS SERVICES, ORANGE COUNTY COURT: Her release date has been calculated as July 13th, 2011.
MORGAN: Tonight, I'll ask the prosecutor what went wrong.
JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR, CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL: In the real world, people want their child to live. And Casey clearly didn't.
MORGAN: I'll ask the expert if the jury did the right thing.
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, RETIRED JUDGE: The jury wanted to say, show me, show me how she was killed. And show me the motive. Why she was killed.
MORGAN: And what happens to Casey Anthony now?
This is a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Casey Anthony will walk free next Wednesday. Today in court, the judge threw the book at her, sentencing her to four years for lying to police, the maximum sentence he could impose, but with time served, that comes out to just six more days in prison.
It's the most controversial end to a murder trial since O.J. Simpson, and understandably, all eyes are now on the jury.
Here's what one of those jurors told ABC News about their decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER FORD, JUROR, CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL: How did she die? If you're going to charge someone with murder, don't you have to know how they killed someone or why they might have killed someone or have something, where, when, why, how? Those were important questions, they were not answered.
I'm still confused. I have no idea what happened to that child. If you put even just the 12 jurors in one room with a piece of paper, write down how Caylee died, nobody knows. We'd all be guessing. We have no idea.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Dan Abrams, ABC News legal analyst and the founder of the Web site Mediaite.com, joins me now.
Dan, what's gone wrong here? Because if you ask a million people on the streets of America right now, I reckon a million people would say, this was the wrong verdict.
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST AND THE FOUNDER OF THE WEBSITE MEDIAITE.COM: Yes. I think it's the difference between objective truth and a legal truth, to some degree. Meaning that I think that these jurors had to survive this enormous burden, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
And apparently, they didn't think that that was survived. With that said, I have to say that these jurors do seem to have taken away something very different from this case than I think much of the public did. And that is, when you actually listen to everything that this woman just said, juror number three, what the alternate juror, number 14, has said, it sounds like they actually think that an accident may have been the cause of death, which I think is surprising, and I can't explain why their perception is so different than that of the public at large.
MORGAN: I mean, a lot of people are going to feel pretty angry that Casey Anthony is going to walk out next Wednesday, having effectively served her time, when you still have so many unanswered questions about what happened to her daughter.
ABRAMS: No question. I mean, you know, people say, what about justice for Caylee? And the answer is, if this wasn't a crime, meaning, if it was an accident, then the sort of justice for Caylee is going to have to simply be in the minds and hearts of those who cared about her.
It seems that these jurors gave the defense's theories more credence than did the public at large. I mean, for example, that juror you just showed there said that she thought that it was probably the case that George Anthony, the father, knew more about what was happening here. She thinks he was there, is what she said. There was no evidence to suggest that. Not -- I mean, there was the defense's assertion in the opening statement. That's what Jose Baez said, but when it came to proof, any, any piece of evidence that George Anthony was there at the time, there was nothing.
It seems that what happened is that these jurors watched a witness like George Anthony, and they simply didn't trust him. And as a result, some of the speculative theories that the defense posed became sort of engrained in the minds of these jurors, so it was at the very least reasonable doubt.
MORGAN: I mean, what was interesting to me was Judge Perry gave out the maximum sentence that he could for the offenses for which she was convicted. If that happened in a British courtroom, I think the media in Britain would assume that that meant he felt that she was probably guilty of other offenses.
Is it similar in America in that sense? I mean would you assume with your legal brain that he was making a point there?
ABRAMS: I think he might be. It's tough to know. This was certainly -- remember, the crimes here we're talking about are lying to the authorities, and these were pretty egregious. Meaning she did send the authorities on a wild goose chase, which is a horrible thing to do, and as a result, you could make an argument that it deserved the maximum punishment.
But I agree with you, that I think there's something more at play here. For this judge to give the maximum, meaning a year on each of the four counts, and then say she has to serve them consecutively, meaning one after the other, is a very stiff sentence for this crime.
MORGAN: Yes. And I think quite telling.
I'm about to interview the prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, who I'll tell you pretty shocked by what happened. If you were about to talk to him, Dan, what would you say to him?
ABRAMS: I guess one of the things I'd want to know is the George Anthony factor, the father. Is he particularly surprised that these jurors had real questions about the credibility of George Anthony?
I think that the prosecutors and myself as well may have underestimated how much the jurors distrusted George Anthony's testimony.
Also with regard to not just cause of death, meaning cause of death was always a problem for them, but it seemed these jurors wanted a motive. And the prosecutors offered a motive. And they didn't buy it. I mean, these jurors completely rejected -- for that juror that we just watched to say, we don't know why she would have done it.
Well, the prosecutors would say, we offered up a theory as to why. We said that it was pretty clear she wanted to move on with her life, didn't want to be saddled with a child. She wanted to go out and party, she wanted to have her boyfriends, et cetera. This juror is talking as if the prosecutors didn't present any evidence of a possible motive.
MORGAN: Yes, I think you made some good points there.
Dan, if you can hang around, I'm now going to interview Jeff Ashton. I would be fascinated to hear what you think about his answers when I finished. So I'll come back to you in a moment.
MORGAN: The lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case says he is shocked and stunned. Jeff Ashton poured three years of his life into this trial, and now he's ending his career. We don't know if it's a result of that and I can ask him now.
Jeff Ashton, I mean, were you going to retire anyway, or has this kind of put you off the justice system?
ASHTON: No, no, it was planned anyway. I've done 30 years as a prosecutor and it has always been my intention to leave when this case was over. In fact I sort of extended my retirement a bit to finish this case. So it was always my intention to do that.
MORGAN: I mean, obviously, when you lose a case and there is a public presumption, as there was, that you're going to win, it's a pretty cataclysmic moment for you as a prosecutor. You couldn't have seen this coming, just based on the buzz that surrounded the trial. What was your reaction when you realized it had gone the wrong way?
ASHTON: Well, I think the reaction of all of us was we were pretty shocked, as everyone else was, but you know all of us have been doing this long enough to know that anytime you have a jury making a decision, you just never know what they're going to do.
So while we were shocked, we walked away, basically saying, well, that's the way the system works. We gave the evidence to the jury, we gave them every bit of evidence that we had. We felt we did it in a very coherent manner, made good arguments. And if they chose to find her not guilty, then that's their right.
MORGAN: I mean, when a jury finds a defendant like Casey Anthony not guilty, it's because they haven't believed, really, the thread in narrative of the prosecution. I think we have to assume that.
Looking back on the way the trial went, where do you think you made mistakes? I mean I spoke to Dan Abrams, he was saying that maybe he underestimated the lack of credibility of George Anthony in particular. Would you accept that?
ASHTON: Well, I think if this jury, you know, came to the verdict they did based upon the belief in something that wasn't in evidence. In other words, if they came to this decision based upon the belief that George Anthony had something to do with this, then they didn't do the right thing. Because there was no evidence that George was involved in this. And they were instructed that their decision, reasonable doubts had to come from the evidence. So if, in fact, that was the factor, then they didn't do their jobs. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. I'm assuming that they simply did it based upon, you know, not being convinced about cause of death, and that's fine.
If they did not see in the photographs of how Caylee was found what we saw, and what other people see, well, that's fine. You know, we shall agree to disagree. But if they did it based upon the allegation that George is involved, that is a more serious breach of their duty as a juror.
MORGAN: I mean, do you believe absolutely that she murdered her daughter? Or is it more realistic that there was some terrible accident, possibly as a result of negligence, which she then covered up? What is the more likely premise now that this is all over, do you think?
ASHTON: Sure. I just -- I have never been able to figure out a reason why somebody would cover up an accident by putting three pieces of duct tape over the nose and mouth of a child, and then dumping them in a swamp.
I mean, when children die by accident, people call for help. That's how it works in the real world. You know, in the fictional world, that may be different. But in the real world, people want their child to live. And Casey clearly didn't. Every action that she took showed that. But the evidence was what it was.
MORGAN: I mean, look, I don't want to be as hysterical as others have been about this. It's important to remain fair minded and to respect the judicial process, and I think that it is important, going forward, that we have to do that. But when I studied the facts of this case, when you see, repeatedly, people saying, well, why would any woman, any mother not report the missing child for 31 days -- I mean, you're left with some pretty inescapable conclusions, aren't you?
I just don't know anybody in that position that would not report their child going missing for that long.
ASHTON: I think that was our point all throughout the case, is -- you know, how do you explain that? And you know, we felt that that was fairly compelling information. I don't know how compelling the jurors thought it was, or what explanation they drew for it. But, you know, we felt that was pretty difficult to understand, by anything other than her being involved in the murder.
MORGAN: Jeff Ashton, stand there for a moment. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, I want to talk to you, really, about the sentencing that went on today and the fact that Casey Anthony will be walking free next Wednesday.
ASHTON: Will do.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: The judge slammed Casey Anthony with a four-year sentence, but with time served, she'll walk in just six days. Perhaps no one is more stunned by this outcome than the lead prosecutor in this case, Jeff Ashton. And Jeff is still with me now.
Jeff, when you heard about the sentencing, it seemed to me, and I'm not a legal expert, that the judge was making a point by giving her the absolute maximum that he could for the comparatively trivial crimes for which she was convicted.
Would you concur with that?
ASHTON: Well, I don't think that the sentence necessarily is a comment on how the judge felt about the more serious charges. Clearly, though the case -- though the crimes were misdemeanors, the effect that these misdemeanors had on law enforcement, on the community were incredible.
I mean, the hundreds of thousands of hours, thousands of dollars, the hours of civilians' -- I mean, these lies created a havoc in this community and pain for months. So even without the murder, I still think the judge's sentence is very, very appropriate.
MORGAN: I want to play you another clip from one of the jurors and get your reaction to this, Jeff, if you don't mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: There wasn't enough evidence. There wasn't anything strong enough to say exactly -- I don't think anyone in America could tell us exactly how she died. If you put even just the 12 jurors in one room with a piece of paper, write down how Caylee died, nobody knows. We'd all be guessing. We have no idea.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, Jeff, she has a point. I mean I think if I asked all my staff on PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT to say what they thought actually happened and how she died, I think you would get a variable of responses. Was that the key problem here, that the forensic evidence just wasn't there for you to get a conviction?
ASHTON: Well, you know, obviously, we thought the forensic evidence was there to establish her guilt of first-degree murder. As we explained to the jury through the jury instructions, that verdict can come from any number of different scenarios of how Caylee was killed.
There are, you know, accidental scenarios that would be first- degree murder. There are accidental scenarios that would be aggravated manslaughter. But we felt there was sufficient evidence to show that this was a criminal homicide. We felt first-degree murder.
But certainly, we felt there was enough to show that it was criminal in nature. In fact, that was the testimony of the medical examiner, that this was a homicide. It was not an accident. But the jury, you know, is aware of the evidence. They're the ones that get to decide. And if they don't see in the evidence what we do, then we have to respect that. As you said.
MORGAN: I mean, do you feel comfortable that someone who is a -- clearly a pathological liar, who was an appallingly negligent mother, if nothing else, clearly not, in my view, in any fit mental state, do you feel comfortable that somebody like that will be walking the streets of America in a few days' time?
ASHTON: Well, you know, we did what we could to prevent that, but the jury spoke and I believe the judge gave her the maximum sentence that he could. I just hope that people react in this -- to this release by ignoring her. The best thing they could do to express their disgust to Casey Anthony is to ignore her.
Don't go to the jail when she's released, turn your back on her, just ignore her, pretend that she doesn't exist, because that's the way you can respond to her the best.
MORGAN: Jeff Ashton, thank you very much for your time.
ASHTON: Thank you.
MORGAN: I'm going to turn back to Dan Abrams.
Dan, you heard Jeff Ashton there, clearly very disappointed about the result here. He's not the only one. Millions of Americans I think share his sense of dismay that justice for Caylee Anthony, at the very least, has not been -- seems to have been done here.
What did you make of what he said?
ABRAMS: Well, I mean, first of all, I should tell you that most of the people who watched this case thought that Jeff Ashton did a very good job as a prosecutor. And I don't always say that in the context of high-profile cases. I think he really was a very strong prosecutor who presented a very strong case. So you can understand why he is frustrated.
I mean, you know, the problem is, when you start talking about George Anthony, for example, and he says, well, it would be improper for the jurors to have concluded something that wasn't in evidence. Maybe. But as he well knows, that's not the way juries work all the time.
Meaning that if jurors see on the witness stand someone they don't believe, that's a problem. And again, I admit that I misread this, because I thought it was foolish for the defense in its opening statement to spend so much time pointing the finger at George Anthony.
But I'll tell you, from listening to juror number three, it seems that had an impact. It seems that these jurors looked very critically at George Anthony. And you also heard this issue of the juror talking about, we don't know exactly how she died, and you heard Jeff Ashton there, again, seemingly frustrated, because he felt that they demonstrated that. But there have been other cases, the high-profile Scott Peterson case, for example, we didn't know exactly how Laci Peterson died, and yet the jurors accepted that there was this avalanche of circumstantial evidence that together demonstrated he did it, even though we didn't know exactly how he did it.
In this case, the jurors didn't feel that there was enough there to convict.
MORGAN: Yes. I mean it's a fascinating case, and remains so, despite this very controversial verdict.
I want to bring in Judge Seidlin now, and ask you, Judge, what you thought of the sentencing today, in particular.
SEIDLIN: I thought that the judge -- this judge seemed to be state oriented, prosecution oriented, and I believed that this judge would give the defendant, Casey, the maximum sentence, and hammer her. And he did.
He was left with the misdemeanors and he could give each misdemeanor one year, and he could give it consecutively. Normally it would be concurrent. You would give a defendant one year for all four misdemeanors. But he felt that the jury spoke clearly and loudly that she was not guilty of any form of homicide, and she was guilty of the four misdemeanors. And the judge sat through this trial, and he felt that the punishment fit the facts of the case.
MORGAN: But when you say that, I mean, it seemed to me what he was really saying was that he did not really agree with this verdict, that he felt that there was probably enough evidence for at least one of the other charges to come back in.
I mean, why else would he throw the book at her in that way? It was -- it was the most censorious sentence he could have imposed?
SEIDLIN: Well, Piers, I happen to agree with you. I sensed even during the trial that this judge was very prosecution oriented during various important junctures in the trial. And he could have released her right at the end of the trial when the jury came back with not guilty on the homicide charges. And could have said, you're released from this courtroom, and had her come back for sentencing for the misdemeanors.
He was involved in a case, he knows the facts, and I believe, and I said it before the trial and during the trial, I was probably the only voice in America that said, there's not enough evidence to prove her guilty of these heinous crimes. And the jury just was not convinced.
Even though we're all sickened by the death of Caylee, there was nothing linking her death with the defendant. Of course, there was the missing 31 days where she didn't call the police. And that was an aberration. That was just an outrageous act. But they didn't show the method of her death. There was so many elements missing, and they were uncomfortable. This is not a multiple question. Pick A, B, C, or D. The jury wanted to say, "Show me, show me how she was killed and show me the motive, why she was killed." And it didn't add up and if I sat as a judge -- if it was a judge trial, I may have come back with the same verdict.
I think there was doubt by every educated legal mind in America. And what happened is, you have talking heads around the country that weren't really familiar with homicide cases. They may have handled reckless driving or civil cases. So you heard a drumbeat. And they were informing America of her guilt of murder one.
And it was unfair to the American public, this drumbeat. It was like the old Salem witch hunt. Without proof, you can't put someone to death. And that's what we were lacking here. We needed more educated, insightful voices that understood the criminal process.
To say she isn't going to be convicted. All you heard on every TV station was they're going to come back with murder one. And it just wasn't true.
MORGAN: Casey Anthony was found guilty by the court of the media and public opinion, driven, in my opinion, a lot by the fact that this case was televised, which we don't do, for instance, in Britain.
I think it fueled the wrong kind of atmosphere about this, made her a hate figure, and that actually, as you said, if you studied the hard evidence, very, very difficult to criticize the jury for being unable to convict on the charges that were presented to them.
SEIDLIN: I think the talking heads should not criticize the jury. They performed a public service. They spent days and days away from their home and family. And to criticize them is unfair. They did what they thought was right.
And to criticize the judge or the other folks in this case is undermining our legal system. And you know we adopted our legal system from Great Britain. And we do allow cameras in a courtroom. The state of Florida does. And it's a two-edged sword. It sometimes is just absolutely unfair to the defendant, because it doesn't give the defendant an even playing field.
MORGAN: Judge Seidlin, thank you very much for your time, and also to Dan Abrams.
The case closed on Casey Anthony, or is it? The court of public opinion remains firmly and vociferously in session. A fierce debate now among top legal experts. We'll be hitting out the two of them after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEVEY: At this time, I would like to announce that the defendant was given credit for 1,043 days, and at this time, her release date has been calculated as July 13th, 2011.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Casey Anthony has just a few more days to spend in jail, but the debate over whether the prosecution failed to prove their case against her isn't going to end anytime soon.
Could she actually be innocent?
Joining me now are two lawyers who specialize in sex crimes and child abuse cases. Stacey Honowitz, a Florida state prosecutor, and Robin Sax, a former Los Angeles prosecutor.
Stacey, let me talk to you. People are talking about it as being the biggest upset for a prosecution team since O.J. Simpson. Is that fair, do you think?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA STATE PROSECUTOR: I absolutely think it's fair. And these prosecutors, unfortunately -- you know, it's interesting that you go on the next day and you talk about it, and I give him so much credit. Because even in small cases when you lose something that involves a child or any case, you know, you have to live with that and you -- it resonates in your brain day after day, what did I do wrong, what could I have done?
In a case of this magnitude, when the entire world was watching, where it's an upsetting and a shocking verdict, this is something that they will live with. What did I fail to do? Which in my mind, they didn't fail to do anything. They presented an airtight brilliant case.
But they have to live with whether or not their closing argument they could have presented, could their forensics have been better? And quite frankly, you have to respect the jury. I don't agree wit, but that's the system that we do have.
But I feel for them, because it's an awful position to be in.
MORGAN: I mean, the one criticism that I've heard about the prosecution was that they overcharged, that actually by pushing for murder one, with the death penalty as a possible consequence, it sort of unnerved the jury into making this decision, because they didn't want to go that far.
Should they have charged on slightly lesser charges, do you think, or not?
HONOWITZ: No, I don't believe they should. They had the evidence in front of them. You heard Jeff Ashton talk about the three pieces of duct tape, the chloroform. I mean, everybody saw this evidence, circumstantial, people are saying. It's circumstantial.
Well, circumstantial evidence is as powerful as direct evidence. It's a series of circumstances that lead you to the belief that this person committed the crime. So while they charge first-degree, premeditated murder, the jurors had options. It's my belief that they went back there and they didn't believe any involvement, like Dan Abrams said. They believed the defense's theory. Because if the case was that they believed she had some involvement, there would have been a conviction on child abuse or aggravated manslaughter, something to prove she had an involvement with this case.
And they didn't buy any of it.
MORGAN: Robin, let me bring you in here. Do you agree with that? Do you think that that was what wend wrong here?
ROBIN SAX, ATTORNEY: I do think there was a potential for overcharging. I think, like Judge Seidlin just said, your previous guest, even us legal pundits weren't quite sure if this was a first- degree or was this an accident? That was the hard part of this case that resonated through.
But I think the key problem here is that this is the case for professional juries, if I've ever seen it. That same sick feeling that they don't get the law. Circumstantial evidence is as good of evidence as any.
Short of having a video camera, we have to put things together based on stringing evidence, connecting dots. And that juror number three that you had on earlier today also made the comment she didn't think that she would have to go through the work -- or the jury didn't feel like they should have to go through the work of connecting the dots.
That's exactly what they're supposed to do. If they don't know what they're supposed to do, then there is a problem with our jurors.
MORGAN: Yeah, I mean, what I found baffling was that they seem to be reacting very emotionally, these jurors, as if to say, hey, don't blame us, this was a terrible ordeal. And yet after the whole trial, they just spend 11 or 12 hours deliberating. They don't ask a single follow-up question about anything on a case of a lot of complexity, a lot of unanswered questions.
Not one question do they come back with in their deliberations? I found that extraordinary.
SAX: I agree with you. If they had so many questions, why don't they start asking them. That's what we heard them say, we had so many questions, we didn't know many things. They could have then been re- instructed on the law, circumstantial being just as good as direct evidence.
HONOWITZ: They don't want to know. I think the important thing is that jurors have to remember what the lawyers say -- we try to say this in every case. What the lawyers say is not evidence. And I think in this case, they took it as that.
And I also think that reasonable doubt -- in trying cases over 24 years, you know, reasonable doubt is a hard concept. I think jurors believe that the case has to be proven 100 percent, beyond all doubt. The only time you never have a doubt in this case is if you were present, if you were there, and they're not. It's reasonable doubt.
MORGAN: It seems to me, Robin, that the American public, many of whom have watched every second of this trial -- I mean, people have been obsessive about it. But I haven't met anybody who doesn't think that she was responsible for the death of her daughter.
What nobody is sure about is exactly how Caylee died. Everybody seems unanimous that Casey Anthony was responsible for the death of her child. And I can keep coming back to some extraordinary facts. I mean, the fact that a mother doesn't report her child missing for 31 days? I mean, that alone to me is appalling negligence and incredibly suspicious.
SAX: Absolutely. And the evidence with each lie, which they convicted her of the evidence of lying -- so how could they trust any other theory coming out of there, when they've made the conviction that she's lied.
There are so many pieces of damning evidence. But the fact of the matter is that I think for a jury, with this problem of reasonable doubt, exactly what Stacey says, I think that short of having 100 percent proof, they weren't going to find her guilty.
It's really hard without knowing the cause of death. And if you're looking for reasonable doubt, a jury will always find it. And it seems that they made the decision from the beginning that they were going to find her not guilty and they were going to find reasonable doubt, no matter where.
MORGAN: I would like to ask you both just really what your gut feeling is. Do you think that she was guilty of murder or guilty of manslaughter in some way? Let me ask you first, Stacey?
HONOWITZ: I believe she was guilty of murder. I believe in the prosecution's evidence. I believe in the three pieces of duct tape. What other reason do you duct tape a baby over their nasal passages and over their mouth, other than to kill them? So I totally believe it was premeditated, first-degree murder.
SAX: I don't necessarily agree that it's first-degree murder. I definitely think that she's responsible for the death of this child. I don't know if she died from the actual duct tape or didn't die, how the chloroform played it out. But if I were the prosecutor in this case, I would have examined both scenarios, and not have put all my eggs in this one basket, because this was a risky basket to go to, especially with the consequences of death.
MORGAN: Ladies, thank you very much, indeed.
Casey Anthony will soon be free from jail. But will she ever be free from the speculation, the scorn, and the inevitable media frenzy that will now surround her? My next guest helped Michael Vick and Martha Stewart adjust to life outside prison. He'll give his insight, coming up.
MORGAN: Casey Anthony, from murder defendant to media magnet. Will she cash in on her sudden celebrity once she's free? Or will she go into hiding and try to put her past behind her? Let's get some insight from our special panel.
With me now is sentencing consultant Herb Hoelter, celebrity attorney Lin Wood, and Mike Sitrick, who specializes in helping former inmates transition to life on the outside. His clients include Michael Vick and Martha Stewart.
Herb Hoelter, let me start with you. Were you surprised by how quickly Casey Anthony's being set free?
HERB HOELTER, SENTENCING AND PRISON CONSULTANT: No, not at all, given the good time laws and the way that most states work in releasing prisoners, I'm not surprised at all.
MORGAN: Well, will she have any restrictions on her when she walks through those gates out of prison?
HOELTER: That was a surprising part of it for me. I would have actually sentenced her differently. I would have sentenced her, probably more controversial, but probably three years, and then placed her on a period of supervised probation with some strict conditions.
But as the sentence is imposed now, there's no supervised release. There's no parole. There's no probation. So she'll be walking the streets free and clean.
MORGAN: Let me turn to you, Lin Wood. You were a lawyer in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. So you're used to this kind of high-profile media circus trial. What did you make of the events of the last 48 hours?
LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY: I can tell you that I'm aware of the fact that this young lady was, in effect, tried in the court of public opinion long before the actual trial took place. And I actually am glad that the public had a chance to watch the trial itself, so that they could see the difference between some of the sensational false information that you hear in the media. They could see the actual evidence presented, and they could reach their own conclusion as to this young lady's guilt or innocence.
They may disagree with the verdict, but I hope that they respect the process. It's a difficult burden to meet in a criminal case, and rightfully so, because we're talking about someone's freedom, in some instances, someone's life.
MORGAN: I mean, Lin, John and Patsy Ramsey, who were two clients of yours, they were hated by their communities. And yet they ended up not being charged with any offenses and so were innocent people. How were their lives able to rebuild after all that? WOOD: They never really were able to recover from what happened to them. You have to remember that, first and foremost, John and Patsy Ramsey lost a child. They were then subjected to an incompetent investigation in Boulder, Colorado. And then for many years, they were vilified by the media with false accusations, which we now know, since their exoneration, were, in fact, false.
I often wondered, Piers, how they could handle it with such dignity and grace and perseverance and courage. And I can tell you how they did it. They did it because they had a strong system of loving family members and loyal friends. They had a deep religious faith and conviction. And they had the reality that they had the responsibility to still raise their son, Burke, who was nine years old when he lost his life's best friend, his sister.
And that combination, I believe, allowed them to survive it. Whether this young lady will have that type of support system and be able to overcome what she's gone through, in terms of the media and the actual trial, only time will tell.
MORGAN: Let me bring in Mike Sitrick here. You've repped everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Paris Hilton, other high-profile individuals who have gone through major crisis in their lives. What do you think is the best advice now for Casey Anthony? Should she go the whole hog? Change her appearance, dye her hair, disappear? Or would you confront this? Come out, do interviews, continue to protest your innocence?
What would you do?
MICHAEL SITRICK, CHAIRMAN & CEO, SITRICK & CO: Look, this is a perfect example, this case, of while you're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, you're guilty until proven innocent in the media. And what we have done when we represent clients -- first of all, we have to determine that they really are innocent.
But I think she needs to give it a little time, give it a little space. And I would do an interview, assuming that she is innocent. And I would do one television interview, have her sit down with you, for example, and let the public hear from her, in her voice, what happened here.
And I wouldn't sell the interview. I think that's a mistake. Because it looks like you're capitalizing on it, if she really does want to bring back her life. Then after she does that and establishes it, she could go on.
Look, the jurors have been interviewed on television. They have said, at least one of the jurors that I recently heard -- I heard on CNN, and saw on CNN -- said, look, I don't know whether she drowned -- whether the baby drowned or whether she was killed. There wasn't -- they all said there wasn't enough evidence to convict.
And the public has been getting the information filtered through the media, those that didn't watch every twist and turn in the trial. So I think that she can take advantage of the fact that the public doesn't know. It was Harry Truman who said, if you can't convince them, confuse them. The public is confused.
And I think somebody is going to -- a void is going to be filled, whether it's by pundits or whether it's by people speculating. And the only way this she can resurrect herself, in my view, is to tell the story herself.
MORGAN: I mean, one of the problems, of course, with having all this on television, the trial, is everyone involved becomes a de facto celebrity. And she is bound to get offered multimillion dollar offers from all sorts of different commercial entities, trying to capitalize on the fact that she has basically walked free, and is one of the most contentious figures in American public life.
I mean, I have quite a firm view about this. This trial by television is deeply flawed. I don't really see what the upside to it is, other than it turns the whole thing into a reality TV circus.
SITRICK: Well, look, I think that what has happened here is it has become a circus. And that's part of the problem that she faces. And people are judging her. She has, I'm sure, followed the advice of her attorneys and not spoken.
And I think there has -- time has to go by. One of the things that she has to worry about is that public opinion has been so solidified against her that she has to worry about her own safety. And there will be plenty of time to capitalize on this in the future. There'll be plenty of time to capitalize this financially.
But I first think she has to restore her image by telling what happened. And she can say, look, the hardest thing in the world is losing your child, assuming that she feels this way. The hardest thing in the world is losing your child. I love my child. I would never do anything to hurt my child.
But to have to sit in court and hear yourself accused of killing your child, it is the worst torture any parent could ever imagine. If she says that and means that, I think that she can make some inroads.
MORGAN: Well, Mike Sintrick, Lin Wood and Herb Hoelter, thank you all very much.
The drama isn't over yet for Casey Anthony. She will walk out of jail next week. But what happens when she leaves? Will her parents ever let her back home or even talk to her again?
Up next, we'll talk to somebody who has been covering this case from the very beginning.
MORGAN: Casey Anthony, the most notorious woman in America right now. She's free from prison in less than a week. But what happens when she returns to her community? What about her parents? Could she ever go back home?
For more, we turn to ABC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield, who's been following the case since the very beginning. Ashleigh, what a mess really all around, isn't it, for everyone? I mean, no justice for Caylee Anthony. And I would imagine very little hope of any kind of normal relationship again between the daughter and the parents in this case.
Would you agree?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a very complex family relationship. They're certainly not intimating whether they're going to be welcoming her back with open arms.
But let's not forget the sordid accusations that Casey leveled against her brother, her father, and, Piers, also her mom. Because she effectively blamed her mother for her daughter's death, saying she left the ladder up in the pool in which Casey drowned.
So that's a pretty ugly family dinner. Whether she goes there or whether she finds some quiet time with an attorney until she can get herself settled -- and maybe not even here or in this country -- is still the 64,000 dollar question.
MORGAN: Tell me, Ashleigh, you were there the whole time. Can you give me any convincing excuse for why any mother would not report her child missing for 31 days? Anything that makes any kind of sense? Unless you are the person who knows exactly what's happened to her?
BANFIELD: Well, all I can tell you is what all the arm chair quarterbacks have said over the last three years. That is this: perhaps a young, immature, 22-year-old mother who has an accident that results in death loses it, tries to cover it up. Perhaps this is a woman who actually did kill her daughter. Perhaps it was a drowning in the pool.
Perhaps Casey's story is true. It all seems like the mystery that has propelled this story, not unlike a "New York Times" best seller. "The DA Vinci Code." why does a story like that -- why does a mystery like that grip the nation? This one's real.
That's all I can suggest, is that there are so many scenarios that could have played out here, Piers. And we all know how good a liar Casey is, admittedly. So we'll never know the truth, even if she stands up and yells it from the courthouse steps.
MORGAN: I mean, what is your gut instinct? You were there the whole time. You heard all the evidence. You're an experienced journalist. What does your gut tell you about this?
BANFIELD: I think my gut tells me what it's been telling me for the last 250 or so trials that I've covered. That is this: it is a very different aspect from a jury box. Television doesn't cut it.
As good as I like to think I am at my job, it's different when you're a juror. And they take their job very seriously. And I think anybody who calls these people out and tells them that there's no justice in this case is not being fair.
Just because we don't get a result we like does not mean justice didn't prevail. I like to say that nobody showed up at someone's house and hooded them and took them away for six months without telling anybody where they were. That's the way it works in other countries. It's not the way it works here.
Justice was carried out. If you're Casey's supporters or her family, justice was that Caylee's mother didn't get put to death. It's a hard concept to wrap your arms around if you believe that she killed her daughter. But this jury didn't find the definitive proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
And everybody's reasonability is a little bit different.
MORGAN: Ashleigh Banfield, thank you very much indeed. We'll be right back after this short break.
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CROWD: Caylee, Caylee, Caylee, Caylee.
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MORGAN: Extraordinary scenes outside of court today. In just days, Casey Anthony will walk free from jail. We'll be watching to see what happens. Thanks to all my guests tonight. Now here's Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."