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Interview with Casey Anthony`s Prosecutor

Aired January 2, 2012 - 19:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, breaking news in the Casey Anthony case. In a primetime exclusive, I`ll talk with Casey`s prosecutor, Jeff Ashton. You will hear what really went down behind the scenes. He`s not holding anything back, and you won`t believe what he`s saying about Casey Anthony. He`ll explain what he calls her nuclear lie, the mushroom cloud that jurors never heard, and neither have you, until now.

So many stunners in his new book "Imperfect Justice," revealed tonight for the first time. What would you like to ask prosecutor Jeff Ashton? He`s taking your calls for the hour.

ISSUES starts now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Casey, where`s Caylee? At least, where`s her remains?

CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY`S MOTHER (via phone): I found out my granddaughter has been taken. She has been missing for a month.

JOSE BAEZ, CASEY`S ATTORNEY: She could be 13 years old, have her father`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in her mouth, and then go to school and play with the other kids as if nothing had ever happened.

GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY`S FATHER: No, sir, I need to get through this. I need to have something inside of me get through this.

CASEY ANTHONY, ACQUITTED OF MURDER: Can someone let me -- come on!



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the Casey Anthony case. Incredible new revelations in the death of Caylee Anthony. We are now hearing it was not an accident.

Casey Anthony, a.k.a., the most hated person in America, allegedly told two therapists little Caylee was murdered by somebody the child knew and loved. Fasten your seat belts, people! It is all revealed in this new blockbuster book.

Good evening, everyone. Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City, with a prime-time exclusive. My very special guest, the man who prosecuted Casey in her unforgettable murder trial, Jeff Ashton, the one and only, out with many of the new revelations in this book.

If I look tired, it`s because I can`t stop reading it. It is absolutely compulsive, must-read material. Many of the revelations fly in the face of what Casey`s attorney, Jose Baez, claimed in his opening statement.


BAEZ: Casey should have called 911. Casey should have done the right thing. And that`s what she`s guilty of. She`s not guilty of murder. This is not a murder case. This is not a manslaughter case. This is a sad, tragic accident.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You heard the word, "accident." Jose Baez shocked the court by calling Caylee`s death an accident.

But now a stunning new story has emerged. The prosecutor says while Casey Anthony was behind bars awaiting trial, she told two shrinks Caylee was murdered! Quote, "She repeated her assertion that Caylee could not have died by accident. George had murdered her." That`s right. She says her own dad, George, murdered little Caylee.

This horrific accusation coming to light in this stunning new book, "Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony." It is out now and shooting up the charts. Again, a must-read.

I am delighted to be joined tonight by the author, Jeff Ashton. Perhaps the most famous prosecutor in America today. And guess what, people? It`s your lucky day. We are taking your calls, your questions for Casey`s prosecutor, Jeff Ashton: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. Call with your questions: 1-877-586-7297.

Jeff, thank you so much for being here. I have read this book. Honestly, I could not put it down. It is incredible, because I lived it. I was out there, every day outside court, chasing the fans, chasing the attorneys down.

It just shocked me when I was reading this. You say Casey told not one but two therapists that her own father, George Anthony, murdered Caylee, either intentionally or in the act of molestation. Tell us everything you know about this.

JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR: Well, what we learned from the mental health professionals in the course of deposition was that they had questioned Casey about what happened on the 16th. And her version was that -- that she was awakened that day by her father. It was similar to the story that Jose told.

The difference was -- is that Casey went to great lengths to point out certain facts that, in her mind, indicated that Caylee had not died by accident, but, in fact, she had been murdered.

The most important one was what we all agreed to, which was that Caylee could not have gotten in the pool by herself. Casey was very emphatic with both the doctors about that fact.

The other important fact was she went to great lengths to point out certain facts, as she said they were, indicating that George had killed her. Such as, she was very descriptive about what part of George`s body was wet and went to great lengths to point out that, in her version, his body was wet from the waist up, as if he had been holding her underwater, not from the waist down, as if he`d jumped in the pool to get her out.

She went to great lengths to talk about the clothing that Caylee -- to one of the doctors -- about the clothing that Caylee was wearing, saying that George had essentially changed her clothes. Somehow that meant something to her. But she was quite emphatic that this wasn`t an accident, that George had murdered her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Unbelievable! Take a look at this from opening statement. Jose Baez speaking. You remember this.


BAEZ: As soon as Casey came around this corner and went back, she saw George Anthony holding Caylee in his arms. She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry. And cry and cry. And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her, "Look what you`ve done!"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so Jose Baez, again, saying it`s an accident in opening statement. OK, in "Imperfect Justice," you say that Casey had, previous to that, said that she believed her father drowned Caylee deliberately or drowned her while he was molesting her. And this is according to what she told the shrinks. You call this the nuclear lie.

First of all, if it`s true that she said this, and I don`t doubt -- I certainly don`t think you`re making up anything that these psychiatrists and therapists are writing down, and I don`t think they`re making it up. If it`s not true, if she`s making it up the way out of whole cloth the way she made up everything else, is this pure evil at work?

ASHTON: It`s pure manipulation at work. It`s pure selfishness at work. It certainly shows a malevolence toward her father that -- that is even hard to imagine. I mean, it`s hard to envision anything that would have been more painful to her father than saying that he murdered this little child that he loved so dearly.

So I do think that the story was concocted, not only to meet the evidence, to explain away the evidence that we had, to the best she could, but also to just really put a knife in George`s heart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. And in a second, we`re going to show you how, when they`re talking in the jail, they seem to be a loving family. What is going on in Casey`s -- let me ask you, why does she hate George so much?

ASHTON: I don`t know the answer to that. The only thing that we saw in sort of examining this family is that George was the only person in the family who, at any point, even before Caylee disappeared, didn`t seem to buy into all of Casey`s lies. I mean, he did, at certain times, try to -- to check in, to investigate some of her claims, like her job claims, and was constantly being told, you know, to basically -- don`t be a detective. You know, stop.

So I don`t know if it stemmed from that or from something else. I mean, we don`t know the basis of all of that.

But, clearly, George was the only one at any point who was willing to look at the facts and see the truth of what Casey was and what she was doing. And, you know, did -- did she hate him when she realized that he was the one telling the police, you know, "Hey, this looks like my daughter may have done something."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the one person in her life who stands up to her and gives her a reality check, she turns around and responds to that by accusing him of murder and of molesting, of molesting her and, essentially, of molesting her daughter.

One of the most shocking moments from the trial happened in opening statements. We all remember this. It caused an audible gasp.


BAEZ: This child, who at 8 years old, learned to lie immediately. She could be 13 years old, have her father`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in her mouth, and then go to school and play with the other kids as if nothing ever happened.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. A couple other quotes from your book. Casey said that she would have Caylee sleep with her, because she was afraid her father might try to molest Caylee.

What was the reaction of George Anthony when he found out, not long before the trial started, that his daughter was going to accuse him of the worst imaginable?

ASHTON: Well, we -- the way we went about telling him was very delicate. We didn`t feel that it was our place to tell him directly, because we didn`t want to be accused of witness tampering or trying to somehow alter their testimony.

So we brought them into the office, along with their attorney, Mark Lippman, and we put the Anthonys in one room, took Mark in another, and told Mark, from our notes, what the shrinks had said about Casey`s story, and then we left it for him to go into the room privately with his clients and tell them the story.

But after that, we did enter the room, to answer any questions they may have. And I can tell you that I never have seen anyone who looked like they had been just beaten as badly as George looked when I walked in that room. He looked like Caylee had died all over again.

And it was very remarkable to me that the only thing he really said to us is, he just looked at us and said, "It`s not true. None of it`s true."

And in what I thought was a very nice, supportive gesture, Cindy looked at him and said, "Nobody believes it`s true, George. Nobody believes it."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but what about a little outrage? What about a little, "How can my daughter do this to my husband? How can my daughter do this to the man who is her flesh and blood? Her papa?"

ASHTON: There was no outrage from Cindy. In fact, the only thing she said, that comes the closest to any realization is, "I don`t know what`s wrong with her." But, so -- you know, at least she was supportive of George, and that was good.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The trial of the century leads to the understatement of the century: "I don`t know what`s wrong with her." Nobody knows what`s wrong with her. We`re going to try to find out tonight.

And I`ve got to tell you, all of this stuff and excerpts of this amazing book on Everything you need to know. What can we learn from this incredible case, this tragedy, this Shakespearean drama?

And on the other side, the calls lining up. We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS for prosecutor Jeff Ashton.


CINDY ANTHONY: Someone just said that Caylee was dead this morning, that she drowned in the pool. That`s the newest story out there.

CASEY ANTHONY: Surprise, surprise.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee! Justice for Caylee!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Average Americans outraged over the not guilty verdict for Casey Anthony. And tonight we are delighted to have in a prime-time exclusive, Casey Anthony prosecutor Jeff Ashton with us.

Phone lines lighting up. Donza. Donza, New York, your question or thought, Donza?

CALLER: Hi, Jane.


CALLER: I do have a question, but first of all, I`d like to thank you for all that you do for the souls without voices, and for that, I mean the animals of the world.


CALLER: And my question for Mr. Ashton is, was there ever a time, sir, where you believed Jose Baez may have questioned Casey`s innocence?

ASHTON: I really can`t -- can`t really speak for his thought processes. I mean, every attorney during their job, hopefully, looks at the case objectively and tries to see its strengths and weaknesses.

You know, I credit Jose with always fighting for his client. You know, I have some difficulties with how he did it at some points, but he was always fighting for her, and there was never a time when I got the impression that -- that he wavered in that.

But I`m assuming, like anybody else, he looked at the evidence at some point and saw with what everybody else saw.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re being very polite now. But let`s face it: in your book "Imperfect Justice," it`s very clear there was no love lost between you and Jose Baez. And of course, we have to remember the whole "laughing guy" incident...

ASHTON: Oh, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... from the closing arguments. And you say in your book, "I genuinely dislike Jose Baez. There is an unearned air of arrogance about the man. He is slick, underhanded, and doesn`t shoot straight."

Jose Baez has reacted now, and he is saying, "I am both surprised and somewhat disappointed he has chosen to attack me on a personal level. This was an extraordinarily complicated case. So much of what happened behind the scenes has not yet been made public. When I decide to tell my story, you can be certain I will not be personally attacking Mr. Ashton."

Got to ask you a slightly tough question here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It could be perceived as sour grapes to attack Jose Baez. Why do you decide to attack him?

ASHTON: Well, two answers to that. There`s very little I express in the book that I didn`t express during the trial. I was not subtle in my comments before the court about Mr. Baez`s level of honesty and candor with the court.

You know, my other thought was, you know, if people are going to pay money to buy and read this book, they deserve to know the truth, as I saw it. You know, I thought it was important in the book to state my bias at the outset, because people need to read my comments, knowing how I feel. But, you know, what I`ve written in there is what I felt, what I thought, and the truth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you give me an example of his underhandedness?

ASHTON: Well, the most egregious example is what he did to Cindy Anthony. When the -- when he knew that the story, the Casey story was going to come out through the shrinks to us, he scheduled a meeting with Cindy only, and rather than tell Cindy the full story of what Casey was going to say about George, he merely told her that Casey [SIC] had died at the house, and nothing more...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Caylee, yes.

ASHTON: Caylee, yes. Caylee, yes. That Caylee had died at the house, but he went further. He went further and told her that the state was investigating George for some involvement in the death and the disappearance of Caylee, which was absolutely false, 100 percent false.

And to me, that was not only obviously a huge lie, but was just cruel, to take this woman who had, you know, against all logic, held onto this hope that her granddaughter had not died in the hands of a family member, and to tell her, "Oh, by the way, that hope you`ve had for two years, it was wrong. She died in your house, and by the way, your husband is going to be in trouble." To me, that was just cruel beyond imagination.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what happened next at opening statements was a shock to the world. But I think the prosecution had an idea it was coming. So what did they do about it? We`re going to talk to Jeff Ashton about that, next.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was in this general vicinity. You can see that somebody has left a teddy bear right over here. A lot of roots. A teddy bear right over here. So it was in this general area.

One question everybody seems to have is...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ve got to say, I actually drove from the Anthony home to -- around the block, to the crime scene. It took me one minute and two seconds.

And I have to say, first of all, Jeff Ashton, I had the utmost respect for everything you do. I mean, when I looked at both sides, really, prosecuting and defending this case, it was tremendous work. But there I am driving the car, and what I said to myself is, if I were the prosecution, I would have taken the jury to the crime scene. Because once I got there, I saw that this is an obvious spot to dump a body. It`s the only spot near the house where there`s no houses. It`s a minute drive. And this is going to last just about a minute. And so, it`s an obvious place.

Could you have done more, like take the jury to the crime scene, and maybe do a little bit more with the pings to show that she remained in the area that day?

ASHTON: Well, the difficulty with the cell-phone records -- I assume that`s what you meant by pings -- that particular area, we actually had an expert go out and map the area for cell-phone usage. And the odd thing is at that particular spot, actually can ping off of any one of two different towers. So it became kind of a difficulty for us to make the pings specifically match.

She could have been at that scene or at the house and pinged off the same tower. So it was difficult. The pings really didn`t give us a precise location, because it was so close.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I guess my bigger point is, and again, I say this with the utmost respect, but I could think of a few things -- and maybe I would have lost the case -- but here`s what I came up with. Things that I would have done differently. So I`m just asking you to maybe take your inventory.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would have taken the jury to the crime scene. I would have explained to them exactly how chloroform can be made in the home. What items -- and apparently I looked it up online, and nail polish has something that can be used for chloroform...

ASHTON: Acetone, right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Acetone. I would have made a reference to that fight that Cindy and Casey had the night before, because it showed motive. Whereas Linda Drane Burdick said, everything was normal the night before. She went out of her way to say that. I would have made a reference to Casey wanting to give her child up for adoption. I mean, I`m just using this as an example. Do you -- is there anything that you look back and say, "I wish I had done it different"?

ASHTON: Well, a lot of the things that you mentioned, particularly the last two, the difficulty with those is we couldn`t get admissible information to prove any of that, because the only person that could give that to us was Cindy. And Cindy painted a picture of that relationship, as I`ve talked about a good deal in the book, that was at odds with what she was telling other people around that period of time.

So the difficulty was, there wasn`t a way to get that in before the jury. You know, as far as anything that we would have done differently, you know, I`ve talked about a couple of small things that I think we might have done differently. I think I talked about, you know, we might have put a few fewer of her friends on to show the lies. That maybe we overdid that a little bit and that at some point thought, eh, we`ve had enough. A couple of other little things. You know, the chloroform computer searches, that was an embarrassment. But none of those things, from my analysis...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side, Jeff.



CASEY ANTHONY, ACQUITTED FOR MURDER OF DAUGHTER: I know we`re going to see Caylee. I know she`s coming home. I can feel it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She spins tales, which we don`t know at the time were tales, but all these crazy stories about all this stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know and you know that everything you told me is a lie, correct?

ANTHONY: Not everything I told you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would point out that the truth and Miss Anthony are strangers.

JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: This child at 8 years old, learned to lie immediately. She could be 13 years old, have her father`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in her mouth, and then go to school and play with the other kids, as if nothing ever happened.

CINDY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: Well, someone just said that Caylee was dead this morning. That she drowned in the pool. That`s the newest story out there.

CASEY ANTHONY: Surprise, surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Anthony has a history of untruthfulness among family members and friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever sexually molested your daughter, Casey Anthony?



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in our prime-time exclusive interview with Casey Anthony`s prosecutor, Jeff Ashton. In his must-read book "Imperfect Justice", he says that two therapists were told by Casey Anthony herself that little Caylee was murdered by her father, George, who may have been in the process of molesting the child, even though, earlier, she had told therapists that, "Oh, she was never molested, and there was no evidence that little Caylee was molested."

Did she make it up out of whole cloth? And if so, is that pure evil? Accusing your own dad of murdering his granddaughter and molesting the daughter and the granddaughter? Wow.

But we are here talking with Jeff Ashton about how he might have prosecuted it differently. You did say that the chloroform issue became an embarrassment. What do you mean by that?

JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR IN THE CASEY ANTHONY CASE: Well, we had a couple of different computer software programs used to examine the portion of the hard drive that had the chloroform searches, and one of them showed a number of 84 searches, that one particular Web site had been visited 84 times. We later learned that another search that, in fact, our own people had done, with a different program, had shown only one of that particular Web site.

The problem was that the question of whether it was 84 or 1 became bigger than the fact that they were searched at all. So that was unfortunate. That was very unfortunate. It was embarrassing for us, for law enforcement, that we didn`t catch it. It was, you know, an "attaboy" for the defense that they caught it. But it did kind of distract from the issue that somebody was searching for how to make chloroform.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why didn`t you describe how to make chloroform?

ASHTON: The problem was, we couldn`t prove what the Web site Caylee - - Casey visited looked like the day she visited it. You know, Web sites always change.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. But why not say -- if you`re saying somebody killed somebody with chloroform, why not say somewhere, this is how you make chloroform? You take acetone and mix it with this. You can do it in the kitchen. I mean I didn`t a get a sense of how you make chloroform, I had to look it up myself and I still don`t know if I had to make it -- if my life depended on it I wouldn`t be able to make it.

ASHTON: I think that was discussed by one -- I think Dr. Voss or Dr. Rickenbach, generally. The difficulty was there`s a number of different ways to make it, and we couldn`t, without being able to prove which one she actually looked at -- it was difficult to tell the jury, well, this is what she saw, because we don`t know exactly what she saw.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you had one hand tied behind your back. The defense can say whatever they want. You are held to a slightly higher standard. You can`t just sort of create scenarios that you don`t know, for a fact, exist.

ASHTON: We can`t just make things up. I mean we can ask the jury to draw inferences from evidence. To put one and one together to make two, but we can`t, you know, just ask the jury to just guess at things out of whole cloth without some good faith basis for proving it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think the defense just made things up?

ASHTON: I think Casey just made things up -- a lot of things. Whether those were supplied to the defense or the defense made them up on their own, well, that`s -- we`ll never know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, I mean, if the defendant says, oh, oh, the child was kidnapped by a nanny. Oh, no, the child was murdered by my dad, who was molesting me and molesting her. Oh, no, the child died accidentally.

At what point does it become the responsibility of the attorney to say, wait a second, you`re lying. I can`t get up in front of the entire world and say that?

ASHTON: That`s a tough one. There is a point at which attorneys are ethically bound not to put their credibility behind a story that they know is a lie. But you have to know it`s a lie before it`s unethical. So it would be difficult for an attorney to come to a point absent a client saying I am going to lie about this, to ever be sure, and therefore, prohibited from presenting the story. But you know that`s the jury`s job, to look through those lies.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re disappointed with the jury. You`ve expressed that a lot.

Look at Casey. She`s obviously cute. Ok? She`s a sexy, young, hot little number. And she`s a pretty white girl, middle class. There`s been a lot of speculation, had she been -- she looked differently. Had she been maybe not pretty, had she been not a suburban white, middle class girl, that the jury might have decided differently. What do you think? Is there a built-in bias here?

ASHTON: I don`t know. I mean, I don`t think anyone can ever know how, you know, changing a fact would change --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a wild guess, Jeff.

ASHTON: No thanks, not going to take a wild guess. The one thing I do say is that, you know, Casey`s defense team and Casey played to the jury very effectively. I mean we all saw how her demeanor when the jury was in the box was often at odds with her demeanor when they weren`t.

You know, there was a lot of very overt actions by the defense, which we actually tried to get the judge to stop, where they would sort of, you know, overtly comfort her, the arm around, the grandfatherly hug, all of that stuff. We did ask the judge to put a stop to that, and he didn`t --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did that infuriate you?

ASHTON: Yes, it honestly did. Because it was -- so much of it, I believed, to be an act. And it`s one thing for the defendant to do it, because you can`t stop that. But for the attorneys to get involved in it is somewhat questionable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does it irk you that she`s famous?

ASHTON: It doesn`t irk me that she`s -- I`d call her infamous more than famous. But, no, not really; I mean I think that --


Jeff, at night, when you`re tossing and turning on that bed and your head`s on the pillow, what runs through you? Do you have any feelings that, "Oh, my gosh, she got away with it."

ASHTON: I -- I have had moments of that. In fact, you know, when the trial was over and I went and went on your show and a few others, when I got back home, there was a day or two when I went through the process of being angry about this. But I`ve done this for so long, you just get accustomed to the fact that sometimes these things happen. And you have to just move on, and get on with it.

So, you know, I believe in karma. And I don`t wish anyone to take that as a suggestion that anyone should do anything to Casey Anthony, ever. People should leave her alone. They should ignore her. But karma has a way of balancing the scales.

Do you think she`s going to be the O.J. of her era? End up in jail somehow, someway?

ASHTON: I don`t -- who knows? Who knows? I -- you know, I would not want to trust her with my checkbook, but aside from that, I don`t know. I mean her life obviously is not -- is never going to be the same because of this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the prison that one lives in is one`s own body and one`s own psyche. If you know you`ve done something wrong, you have to live in your own personal hell. I mean that`s the truth.

Let`s go to the phone lines. They`re lighting up. Estelle, Tennessee; your question or thought, Estelle?

ESTELLE, TENNESSEE (via telephone): Hi, Jane.


ESTELLE: I just wanted to say that my daughter and I watched most of the trial on TV. And Jeff Ashton is our hero. And as far as -- if we had been on the jury, she would have been guilty. I tell you, I just, I just could not believe it when they said she wasn`t guilty.

And the question I wanted to ask was I understand two of the jurors felt she was guilty. Why do people cave in to that when, you know, if I were on that jury and I felt in my heart that she was guilty, I would not cave in. I would hang it. I would hang that jury.

I`m sorry, but you know, there`s a little girl dead here. And I think -- I don`t know, somehow that got pushed aside, I think, a lot in this trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Estelle, thank you for your call. And we do ask Jeff, what do the jurors have to say for themselves for that verdict? I mean it came back in just over ten hours, no questions. Listen to juror number three, Jennifer Ford, explain the decision.


JENNIFER FORD, JUROR IN CASEY ANTHONY CASE: They had good, strong circumstantial evidence, but at the end of the day, it was circumstantial and there was not just one strong piece of evidence that said something definitively. Every piece of evidence kind of said this or that, this way or that way. There were many different ways you could have gone with each piece of evidence.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, you can learn all about the 12 individuals, the 12 Americans who decided that Casey Anthony was not guilty by going to We`ve got profiles of them all. But, Jeff Ashton, do you blame the jurors for their decision?

ASHTON: I don`t blame the jurors for their decision. I mean, they -- they applied the law the way they saw it. And the law allows jurors to define reasonable doubt pretty much anyway they want.

You know, Ms. Ford`s comment, I think, is illustrative, you know. She wanted one piece of evidence. And this was not a case where one piece of evidence told you the story. All the evidence, taken together, told you the story. But she wanted it to be one piece that was, you know, crystal clear, and that just wasn`t this case. This case was a complex case.

ASHTON: If you hadn`t asked for the death penalty -- some people say you overcharged.

ASHTON: Well, the decision to seek the death penalty was the decision of the state attorney, based upon a lot of --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But good idea or bad idea?

ASHTON: Well, you know, as I said in the book, I did not believe that there was a great likelihood that the jury would give the death penalty to Casey, even though she may have deserved it. If she did what I think she did, I`m not so sure she didn`t deserve it. But the reality is that the chance of her getting it was very, very slim.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More in a second.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: My prime-time exclusive interview with Casey`s prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, continues. His book -- absolutely could not put it down. I marked it all up. I`m taking notes like crazy. It`s a must- read. In this book, "Imperfect Justice", you say, Jeff that you were stunned and numb. Open up your heart and take us into your reaction to that stunning verdict.

ASHTON: You know, stunned and numb is about as good as I can describe it. I mean -- you know, I never thought that 12 people would look at the evidence that we had given them and none of them feel that it was enough to show that Casey had been involved in the death of her daughter. I mean we all knew that the jury, despite, you know, the strength of the evidence and what we saw, might not convict her of first-degree murder. And that some lesser offense might be possible. But it just, I just never thought that all 12 of those people would allow her to escape any punishment for involvement in the death of Caylee. It just -- I just didn`t think that would happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you lose your faith in humanity for a little while?

ASHTON: No. I`ve been doing this for too long. And I know that our system of justice, though imperfect in results sometimes, is a great system. So you can`t ever lose faith in the system, though occasionally the outcomes are not what you think they should be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, listen, I saw you in the elevator going up and down, your family was there, your very handsome sons. You were apparently getting high-fived on the way in. I mean you thought -- you were already planning for --

ASHTON: Oh, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- the sentencing.

ASHTON: Oh, yes. I thought that based upon the evidence that we presented, that the defense that had been presented involving George, I felt was refuted by his suicide letter. When I read that letter and I read it to the jury, I didn`t see any way that anyone could look at that letter and go, ok, I think George could have been involved here. And I thought once we`d gotten rid of that, that her guilt was obvious.

I still don`t know how the jurors took that letter and didn`t see in it what I did, which is a man who was broken and suicidal. Because he didn`t know what happened to this little girl that he loved so much. So, yes, I was. I was just stunned.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, by the way, the defense had this consultant, who went and did social networking sites, analyzed tens of thousands of tweets and blogs, and came up with people don`t like George. People don`t trust George.

Do you think it`s time for the prosecution to start using some of these high-tech tools, like mock trials, which is not high-tech, but going through and seeing what people are saying online about somebody? Because if you had known that, maybe you would have realized, even though I think George is very sympathetic, they`re going to read everything -- they`re going to think he had an affair, which you say he didn`t.

ASHTON: Oh, I don`t know. I don`t know if he did or not.


ASHTON: I mean, I don`t, obviously, I wasn`t there, but --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you found him believable. Most people didn`t.

ASHTON: The thing was, we all knew going in that they were going to attack George and what George`s vulnerabilities were. Ultimately, though, you just hope a juror will look at the actual evidence in the case.

And it`s one thing to say, I think, to me, at least, it was one thing to say, oh, you know, I think this man may have cheated on his wife, but to go from that to he murdered or disposed of the body of his granddaughter by throwing her in a swamp, to me, was a leap that I didn`t think most people would make.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. I think that a lot of people thought, wow, you were aware that they were going to come in with something, either accidental drowning, but there was no Zanny the nanny, they had telegraphed that a long time ago, and be prepared for a bombshell.

Do you think the way you handled it in the opening statement was sort of, arguing an old case? In other words, where is Caylee? Where is Caylee? And then going through the timeline of the 31 days, where they acknowledged in their first moments, ah, she was dead from the beginning?

ASHTON: The problem with that is, we can`t in our opening statement say what the defense is going to be because if we`re wrong, it`s a mistrial. And all of these hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted. So you have to present the case. But we did, in the opening statement, fashion it in a way to make the jury expect the next lie.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. More in a second.



GEORGE ANTHONY: Hey, gorgeous. How are you doing?

CASEY ANTHONY: I look like hell.

Good morning.

GEORGE ANTHONY: Good morning, beautiful. I love you.

CASEY ANTHONY: Hi. I love you, too.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: "I love you, too." But then we learn an "Imperfect Justice" that the very same young woman who is saying to her dad, "I love you, too," even though she first told the therapist when he asked her if she`d ever been sexually abused she said no. She later goes on to say that, oh, her dad molested her. In fact, she was worried that George might be little Caylee`s father. In other words, Casey saying she was afraid her own dad might have impregnated her.

George`s attorney, by the way, responding tonight saying the idea that any of these things actually happened are ridiculous. My client denies all of it.

I have to say, Jeff Ashton, prosecutor, this boggles my mind. You said you saw a lot of liars but you`ve never seen one -- somehow the level, the lows that she went to with some of her comments. You said you`ve never seen anything like it.

ASHTON: Well, yes. I mean, the extent to which she was able to -- wanted to use her story to hurt is amazing to me. But her greatest talent, she was the best liar I`ve ever seen. I`ve never met anybody that could create a lie and maintain the lie over a long period of time and have the mental agility to adjust it on the fly when she needed to.

I mean it is absolutely amazing that she was able to do it and seem superficially to be so convincing. It was just amazing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think she`s a sociopath?

ASHTON: I don`t know if she`s a sociopath because the predominant feature of her personality that I saw -- and again, I`m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist -- but was selfishness, an almost sort of pathological level of selfishness. And I think that the lies and the disregard of the rights of others which classically is sociopathy is really just a vehicle for that narcissism, that selfishness that pervades everything that she does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to go to the phones again. Lauren, Florida, your question or thought, Lauren?

LAUREN, FLORIDA: Hi, Mr. Ashton. I`m a law student in Florida. And I just want you to know that you have inspired me to become a prosecutor and to help bring justice to our society`s victims. I can`t imagine the time you put into that case. It must have been emotionally draining. How did you personally deal with that verdict?

ASHTON: Well, thank you for your comments, and I encourage you to go into law and prosecution. It`s a great profession.

One of the things you learn being a trial lawyer or being a prosecutor is that sometimes verdicts astound you. They just don`t go the way you think they should. And while it`s difficult and while you do go through a certain level of anger and frustration, you know, when you have been doing it long enough you just learn that this happens sometimes. And you have to move on to the next case or the next cause or the next issue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In your book you say that Cindy is co-dependent, which I totally agree with. I also think she lied on the stand trying to claim some of the incriminating Google searches for herself and thinks she did them. Do you think Casey learned to lie from Cindy?

ASHTON: No, not necessarily because from everyone that we talked to outside of her relationship with Casey, Cindy appears to be a fairly honest, hard-working, well-liked person. It doesn`t seem that`s the nature of her relationship.

If anything, I think it`s the other way around. I think Cindy learned to lie from Casey but is not very good at it. Neither she nor George is a good liar. When they did lie it was obvious they were lying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More in a second.