Lacking the ability to peer into human minds, I am at a loss to explain why so many of us tuned into the Casey Anthony murder trial in Florida like it was a Super Bowl game in overtime.
I just know that people in record numbers were talking about the case in which Miss Anthony was accused of killing her young daughter, Caylee, in 2008. Any discussion of this case should begin with the reminder that a beautiful, smart little girl is dead today because of somebody's wrongdoing or lack of attentiveness.
It matters not whether you are in the grocery store, the barber or beauty shop, at the beach or at church waiting for Sunday school to start, we all discussed the case, and that included lawyers, farmers, sales people and certainly every retiree within earshot of a television.
Most people seemed to want to serve as judge and jury and declared Casey Anthony guilty as you know what. They forgot that in our judicial system, one is innocent until proven guilty by a jury. Regardless, many questions about the defendant's actions remained, including why nobody knew her child was missing for 31 days before it was reported.
The trial began with many observers seemingly hoping and believing that Casey Anthony would be found guilty and draw the ultimate penalty. Then, as her defense attorneys shifted the momentum, I heard case-watchers declare that they just hoped she was found guilty of manslaughter, meriting a far-less sentence.
Myriad evidence surfaced, forensic and otherwise: stains and odors of potential body decomposition in car trunks and the capture of smells in cans; numerous types of insects inhabiting the dank area where the child's body was discovered and their relationship to decomposing bodies; and movement of the bones by wild animals and possibly by people who should know better. Photos evidenced Caylee's ability to climb a swimming pool ladder, lending credence to the idea that she accidentally drowned. Cell phone records of the subjects in question were introduced in reams. Charges of incest even arose.
"Expert" witnesses one after another paraded before the judge and the in-court cameras, and not a single one apparently knew how to give a straight yes-or-no answer. They hurled more red herrings at the jury than are employed at any field trial competition for hound dogs. A "psychic" even appeared on the scene. You had to wonder if a palm reader was next? This trial had it all.
None of this worldwide attention could be good for the image of Florida, where too many cases of small children being stolen or killed seem to occur. This was an awful event, whether accidental or purposefully committed by some sick individual.
I credited the case getting as far as it did not to any law agency's superb investigative work, but to Nancy Grace, a relentless former prosecutor turned TV commentator who pounded away at the "Tot Mom" during the three years of Caylee's absence.
A verdict has now been rendered and Miss Anthony was adjudged to be not guilty on the major charges. Many observers will argue vehemently with that verdict, but under our system, the verdict is the verdict.
Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.