Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Day of Reckoning on the Printed Page: Casey Anthony and Social Justice

The skeletal remains of Casey Anthony’s beautiful daughter Caylee were discovered on December 11, 2008, almost five months after the toddler was reported missing by her grandmother...Casey failed to report it. During that time, Casey continued to live a party lifestyle, going to bars and clubs and even getting a "good life" tattoo. She was indicted on charges of first degree murder and faced the death penalty. She entered a plea of not guilty, and on July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder and other felony charges.

Some people have been supportive of the mother, but the majority of Americans are angered by this verdict and outraged that Casey Anthony has walked free.

One reason this case hit home with me is my own beautiful five-month old daughter who my wife Denise and I dote on everyday. We came into parenthood at mid-life and our little miracle awes us everyday. We take pride in her small steps of sitting on her own and eating strained peas for the first time. We admire her wide-eyed wonder at everything from the buzzing beehive of activity at the shopping center to the quiet thrill of seeing her own reflection in the mirror. She’s amazing and we are so fortunate.

Which brings me back to Casey Anthony. I have to ask the obvious, how could anyone spend all those weeks going wild with fun while your child is missing? For most of us, our hearts would be breaking wide-open. Life wouldn’t be worth living until our daughter was found.

Every time Caylee’s face flickered on a newscast, my heart reached out to the little girl. It would have before I had my daughter, but now that she's the central part of my life, tears come to my eyes for Caylee. Life shouldn't end at two.

I do what I always do when something like this bothers me. I turn to writing and my two protagonists make up the two sides of my thinking. Gideon Miles, the cool level-headed marshal, would accept the verdict because we live in a country where the law allows Casey to be tried by a group of her peers. He would shake his head in disbelief at the innocent verdict, but, he would think of the words of William Blackstone, "It's better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted." Miles might even entertain the notion she could be innocent.

Then there is the outlaw marshal, Cash Laramie. A man tired of the guilty walking free. Of the innocent living in fear. He'd bide his time, and then, like a dark knight whose thirst in his soul can only be quenched by righting a wrong, he'd exact a revenge. But he wouldn’t call it vengeance, he would call it justice.

The beauty of being a writer is it can be very therapeutic. When something like this trial gets under my skin and then embeds itself in my head, I have to shake it off by either calling out the injustice or righting the wrong. I’m not sure which marshal—Cash or Miles—will step forward in my next story, but one of them will...and there will be a day of reckoning on the printed page.


Leah J. Utas said...

It does angry up the blood, my friend. But she couldn't be linked to it by evidence.
I look forward to your winner.

G said...

I respectfully disagree with Leah. I believer there was enough circumstantial evidence to tie Casey to the death of her daughter.

Be interesting to see if a civil case arises from this. In a civil case, you don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (remember OJ?), just prove by the preponderance of evidence that the defendent was at fault.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have to believe that the jury did not hear a lot of the information that came down to us. One good outcome is that states are passing laws that a missing child must be reported quickly.
A horrible case my son was involved with was over the fact that Michigan had no law about selling your child and a monster did just that here a few years ago. Sold his two year old to a pedophile.
If the law evolves through cases like this, that's one good outcome. Although if I had a gun on a dark night, I would probably shoot her.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

I'm looking forward to reading your justice, David.

This case was extremely difficult for me, as all child related cases should be. As a woman that has always desired a family, it breaks my heart to know that I carry more love in my heart for this child than her own mother. All of us do.

David Cranmer said...

Leah, Cash & Miles do lose from time to time. I have a story coming up called "Reflections in a Glass of Maryland Rye" where the grey areas get very sticky. But most of the time Cash holds the winning hand and I suspect he will in this outing.

Those civil cases have a tendency to bring a certain amount of integrity. And I, obviously, agree with you on the circumstantial evidence, G.

Patti, “Michigan had no law about selling your child." Wow! That is hard to believe and I agree a missing kid should be reported straight away because if not then some bullshit is clearly going on.

Isn't that amazing, Sabrina. We care more about her daughter than she does. Unbelievable! I believe there has to be a disconnect in a warped mind like hers. How else to explain it, right?

barkway said...

How could she act the way she did? Easy; she was a teen mother from a troubled home while you came to parenthood in middle age. Completely different world view. Frankly, I'm so tired of hearing about that girl 24/7 while this country is facing a 2nd near economic collapse that I could just scream. Where are peoples' priorities? She was found not guilty. Let it go.

David Cranmer said...

barkway, Cheer for ladies #worldcup #FIFA! Thanks for stopping by my blog just the same.

JayRootz said...

Jayrootz,being that the case had already settle, for now as barkey said its best to keep focus with the more economic things that are at hand. Alot of us do have kids or younger siblings who we love so dare that we could never see ourselves in the position that Anthony was allegedly accused off. But one thought i want everyone to keep in mind is that OJ got free,but he was still monitored, so don't think that this is the end of the Casey Anthony. she will eventually call her own verdict if she really did kill her kid. "GOD IS REAL"

Kent said...

As much as it sickens me, the jury did their job. As one juror pointed out, many Americans fail to grasp the truth that a "not guilty" verdict by a jury doesn't translate as "innocent" in any way.

The simple and unfortunate fact is, the state of Florida failed to make their case. Maybe they did the best with what they had (I doubt it), or maybe they thought convincing the jury that Casey is a shitty person would be enough.

Personally, I don't think any parent could conduct themselves in that manner and not be involved in the disappearance/murder on some level. Maybe if Casey had taken the stand, but her lawyers were too shrewd for that (and that also means they did their jobs according to the law).

I have come across far too many people who do not take the protection of children seriously even in this day and age, and even more who are so pathetic in their own guilt-ridden bleeding heat bullshit stance that they feel child predators deserve a second chance.

I don't care what a person's background is, where they fall in the cycle of victims, harming a child should be a one-way ticket to oblivion without exception.

David Cranmer said...

JayRootz, So true, sir. "She will eventually call her own verdict..." Very well said and I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

Kent, 100% agree with your comment and especially that last paragraph. "...a "not guilty" verdict by a jury doesn't translate as "innocent" in any way." That is important to remember and I’m glad you reminded us.

Kent said...

I do think it's important to keep in mind when discussing, or becoming irritated with, our legal system.

I will butcher the following bit from Ecclesiastes in a moment, and I'm not what you'd call a church going kind of guy, but when it comes to both justice and revenge, I've always felt "to every thing there is a season,and a time to every purpose under heaven" carries a certain weight. At least in my mind.

Chris P. said...

I've grown so cold and indifferent that the case|verdict doesn't | hasn't| didn't bother me.

Nothing amazes me anymore, nothing riles me; I've seen too much bad. I'm lucky that I wasn't the kid in the garbage bag. I died a hundred thousand times at the hands of those who told me they loved me.

All that matters is that I never let my kids feel that way.

Anyway, David, nice, constructive write.

David Cranmer said...

Kent, One of the best verses from the Good Book. And a darn good song. :)

Chris, I agree about keeping that innocence for the children. I never knew we were poor or that there was a big bad world out there until much later. Damn I had/have good parents.

Thomas Pluck said...

Any time a case gets that much attention, don't expect justice to be done. The D.A. went for murder when he had a more clear shot at manslaughter and now this psychopath goes free.

Mike Miner said...

Chris, I can relate to your numbness.

David, I do like the idea of writing as therapy. I don't think I ever consciously thought of it in those terms but yes, it can be a way to respond to reality.

I think two good things seem to have come out of this awfulness. The parents among us will all hug our children a little more as a result. And the writers among us, and we write some dark stuff, are observing the genuine article, the banality of evil. Hopefully we can put it to good use (as Mr. Cranmer seems to be doing).

Naomi Johnson said...

Casey Anthony, guilty or not guilty, certainly now has a special hell on earth all to herself.

jvdsteen said...

This didn't make the news over here in the Netherlands but I am shocked as well.
I've got a one year old son, so these kind of stories sound weirder to me every day.
Here in the Netherlands we had some parents who offered their kid on sale via the internet for 7500 euros.
Stories like that fuel my Noah Milano stories as well. Like Cash, Noah dispenses the justice my dark side often feels like dispensing.
Noah is kept partly in check by the promise to his mother to ''keep his nose clean'' but his anger sometimes overrules that. In Tough As Leather, the Milano collection, there is a story about a kidnapped child that makes it clear how these kind of things anger me and my alter ego.
The best stories are the emotional ones, so the ones triggered by real life incidents are often the best.

David Cranmer said...

Thomas, Quite a few folks have made that argument and I can’t see any reason to disagree. Basically the prosecution blew it.

Mike, I like your thoughts on "the genuine article, the banality of evil." When I was in Haiti many years ago I saw murdered men and women strewn along the side of the road. Hollywood 'reality' never seemed the same after that. In your face evil is scary as fuck.

Naomi, I think she will be distracted by the money offers at first but she has a long time to think. Then again, there is a disconnect in this woman’s brain. She may not care in the least.

jvdsteen, Selling kids on the internet! Regrettably we have a similar case here in the States that Patti (above comment) mentioned. Hang ‘em high I say. Noah Milano is a top character, Jochem. I recommend folks buying that collection.

Elizabeth said...

"But he wouldn’t call it vengeance, he would call it justice."

Bring on Cash.

Charles Gramlich said...

So true about the therapeutic aspects. My writing has healed a lot of things for me, or at least made them more tolerable.

M. C. Funk said...

I am excited to see where your therapy leads my imagination. Thank you for sharing this moving, fierce and true piece of yourself.

Reb said...

It is a sad, sad thing when justice fails.

Anonymous said...

Although this will go up under Anonymous, I am maxie2go or maxie2g0 from Twitter.

I sit here shaking my head wondering where to begin. Even though casey anthony ( I will never capitalize her name or others of her family) is free to walk the street of Ohio or wherever she is, her daughter Caylee is resting for eternity. The Stae of Florida said Caylee Marie Anthony is dead because of her mother. The jury of eight women and five men chosen from Pinellas County Florida disagreed. To this day I can't stand to hear those verdicts read and have heard them only once.

The jury talks about how sick to their stomach they were for their verdict. The same way casey put herself in that courtroom, they created their own wretchedness. I'll tell you what, I bet none of them are as sick to their stomach as I am.

Ooh, I should have been one of those jurors. I think I'm a very reasonable person. And I detest people who take the easy way out. The defence and the prosecution laid out their closing arguments. The judge then read instruction which were to govern and guide the deliberations of the jurors. Did they follow them. NOPE! Obviously not!

The jurors came back saying they saw no evidence of guilt on casey's part. The prosecution didn't prove their case. Oh my gosh! Most of the commentators and reporters were saying, she's going to get First Degree. *shake's head* Even the defence was expecting Guilty of First Degree. S what happened?

The jurors came back with a Not Guilty on circumstantial evidence without ever asking for a readback, to see evidence, to smell the can, or even asking Judge Belvin Perry , Jr. to clarify even one of his instructions. How does that happen?

Trying casey in the ink is one thing but there needs to be understanding of some things before a clearer decision can be reached.

Wendy Murphy, yep, that wendy urphy was always spouting about dates in the case and Caylee dying not on the 16 but later. Well, I sent her a message with some info from the Pam Pleasea (cindy's ex-sis-in-law). To me and the anthony's Caylee's death revolves around that huge fight between cindy and casey on Father's Day. The 15th. I have to go, but read more below in my Twitter blog link "Maxie's Dime"...

Jodi MacArthur said...

David, My initial reaction was the same as yours. It seems to me there is so much unknown about the case, so many lies from both Casey and her parents. My heart not only goes out to Caylee, but all children who are victims of abuse and receive no justice, but a slap in the face. Writing is amazing in the way that it allows us personally to explore many options, choices, and paths through many sets of eyes. In the end, whether there is justice in our reality or not, we can have some sort of peace within our selves. Thanks for giving us a place to sound off here. Looking forward to more Cash & Miles (always).

Randy Johnson said...

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. I've seen too much of the same thing over the years(remember the Smith woman that drove her car into a lake and left her two small sons strapped in the back to drown, blaming it on a balck carjacker).

There are times I feel like stepping in and getting some justice for those poor children.

Some people should never be parents.

David Cranmer said...

Elizabeth, I have an idea that will work perfectly and may include both protagonists. It's still a ways off because I'm snail pace slow. I may start working on it this weekend.

"... at least made them more tolerable." True, Charles. Because it really never completely goes away.

Thanks, Matthew. I thought I may have misstepped but between the comments here, Twitter, and e-mails clearly folks wanted to express their thoughts on this subject.

Reb, I'm reminded of a quote by Ghandi that goes, "There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts." I'm thinking, sadly, it doesn’t apply here.

Maxi, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feelings and I hope others follow your link to read more of an exceptionally informed opinion. I'm glad we met over at Twitter.

Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Jodi. And being such a strong supporter of my Cash & Miles stories.

Randy, The Smith case was even more (if that’s possible) horrifying because I believe the children were alive as the car slid into the water.

maxie2go said...

David, this thing just chewed up a comment it took me an hour and a half to write. :(

David Cranmer said...

Maxie, I'm sorry to hear that. If you write it again-hit save in Word-and if Blogger doesn't work for you I will post myself. But I understand if you don't. That's disheartening.

Dave King said...

I suppose Leah's point is the only possible answer to the question, but yes, you are right: writing can be the most therapeutic possibility around. Fine post!

JJ Stickney said...

I'm sure at some point in the historic West, a law man said the equivalent of "Better to be judged by twelve than be carried by six."
There's a reason to go to trial.

In this case, when your own prosecution witness can not clearly testify to cause of death, it is hard to reach a murder verdict. Doubt creeps in. When you offer a witness who is an "expert" in the smell of death, you lessen whatever other experts testify on your behalf. The people who listened to the testimony, reviewed the evidence, rendered the verdict. Unlike those of us under the sway of Nancy Grace and the like minded media, the jurors found reasonable doubt. As one juror said, we did not find her innocent, we found her not guilty.

Cash and Miles are the two sides of every law enforcement officer's soul. David, here's my question - When you write this story which side win - not guilty or not innocent?

Sarah Laurence said...

Great post on how life with all its tragedies and failures inspires art. I would have written a different ending to that life story too, but I guess we didn’t hear all the evidence. I can’t see how any parent can run around partying after a death of a child, accidental or not.

David Cranmer said...

Dave, Leah's point is taken by many in this country.

JJ Stickney, A bit off subject to your fine comment but do you remember 12 ANGRY MEN with Henry Fonda? That films always jumps to mind in cases like this where a group of jurors go against public opinion. As former law enforcement, I totally understand your thoughts. Cash and Miles? I'm thinking of a "Lady and the Tiger" sort of ending.

Sarah, I said it in another comment but I can only chalk it up to a disconnect in her brain. Otherwise a person with a conscience would be driven mad. I hope in time, if she is guilty of murder, that she finds no peace.