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July 5th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Opinion: Infanticide in order to party - a nonsense motive

Editor's note: Frank Farley is a psychologist and L.H. Carnell Professor at Temple University, Philadelphia, and a former president of the American Psychological Association.

(CNN) - The trial is over. Casey Anthony is not guilty, and I believe we will learn that the jury saw through the most unreasonable and bizarre piece of the prosecution's case - the motive. Jurors followed the prosecution's instruction to "just use common sense," and found that the motive made none.

Without concrete evidence, the essence of this trial was psychology: How do emotion, love and mothering play a role; who is lying and how can we know that.

But the theories put forth were based on bad psychology. The prosecution said the motive was simple and two-pronged: Casey made a murderous decision because she wanted party time; and Caylee was getting to an age when she might be able to tell people about her mother's lies and activities. So Casey made a pre-emptive strike. These explanations were vigorously advocated by the prosecutors in their closing arguments and rebuttal as central to the jury's deliberations.

Arguments from prosecution and defense

No credible motivational psychology that I know of would support that a single mother who seemed to love her child and who had lots of back-up parenting, in the grandparents and perhaps even from a brother, would go through the careful planning and complex, unpredictable, scary process of killing and disposing of her child in order to get a bit more free time.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. sara

    Are the same angry people
    The ones who lined up daily
    To go into the courtroom
    As if they were going to a
    Rock concert? All smiles, happy
    They got a seat?
    Bottom line,twelve people who
    Didn't know her set her free
    And she will be a pariah, like OJ Simpson

    July 5, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  2. Joanie

    I don't understand... I thought her defense was that Caylee drowned in the pool and her and her father covered it up. Isn't that admitting to at least manslaughter. Why wasn't she found guilty for at least manslaughter since they admitted this?

    July 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  3. scott

    I was not shocked at the virdect I would have voted the same way. Every body should be thankful we live in the us to beable to have an opion and a justice system that works. some my think she should have been forced to tell her story, why if you were accoused of a captial crime would you. my question is what killed her and why the evdience did not show what killed her other the a computor search in how to kill her. Justice is blind if we do not like how it turned out then why dont we call our elected officals to change the law and the rights we have, and the constion

    July 5, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  4. Michael

    Can't agree more with Frank's assessment.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  5. Bob

    Actually, not being held resposible for where your child is for 30 days is generally something worth discussing.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  6. Chel

    The motive makes sense if you are severly mentally ill and possibly a sociopath, which Casey Anthony displays in her bizarre behavior. It is hard to let it be when the child that is now buried will never grow up, get married, have children of her own and will never have the life that she may have had, had she not been murdered. It is obvious to anyone that watched the trial that Casey Anthony is guilty. There is nothing worse than someone who has clearly committed a crime being set free because of a technicality or because the evidence was "circumstantial". There is an old saying that most of the time the easiest explanation is usually the right one and in this case, the explanation that makes the most sense is that Casey killed her daughter. Just because the proof in this case was rooted in behavior and in things such as the duct tape and odor in her car rather than in DNA or fingerprints, does not make it less true and does not mean that she is innocent of killing her child. If not, Casey, than who? Can anyone give me a more plausable explanation for how and why that child died? No. Because as I stated a moment ago, the easiest and most obvious explanation is usually the correct one.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  7. L. Trotter

    Casey was not found guilty so let it be!! Isn't this the USA????

    July 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Joanie

      Yes it is but.. the justice system unfortunately is not about guilty or not guilty it is about who plays and wins the game regardless of the truth. Very sad.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm |