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July 5th, 2011
02:33 PM ET

BREAKING: Jury acquits Casey Anthony on first-degree murder

(CNN) - Casey Anthony was acquitted Tuesday of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter.

But the jury convicted Anthony on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

The verdict was reached by the seven-woman, five-man jury after deliberating for less than 11 hours in a trial that stretched to more than six weeks and featured allegations of sexual abuse, questions regarding Casey Anthony's competence and various theories on what happened to 2-year-old Caylee.

Casey Anthony, 25, was charged with seven counts - first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to a law-enforcement officer in Caylee's 2008 disappearance and death.

Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008, but was not reported missing until July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, tracked her daughter down and demanded answers regarding Caylee's whereabouts.

Prosecutors alleged Casey Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious and then duct-taped her mouth and nose to suffocate her. They alleged that she put the child's body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it. Caylee's skeletal remains were discovered December 11, 2008, by former Orange County meter reader Roy Kronk.

Casey Anthony's defense attorneys maintained that Caylee was not murdered at all. They said the child drowned in the Anthony's above-ground pool on July 16, and that Casey Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked upon finding her there and covered up the death. George Anthony denied that in his testimony.

The defense also attempted to cast suspicion on Kronk, the meter reader. Defense attorneys asserted that he had found Caylee's remains months earlier than he claimed and that he hid them before placing them where they were found. He did that, they claimed, just before notifying authorities in an effort to cash in on the high-profile case.

Kronk denied those allegations, according to his attorney. He testified on the stand that after calling police three times in August 2008 to report something suspicious in the woods, a deputy met him at the scene and "chewed me out," telling him he was wasting the county's time. He said he dropped the matter after that until he revisited the scene in December and found Caylee's skull.

Prosecutors pointed to Casey Anthony's behavior during the 31 days before Caylee was reported missing as evidence of her guilt.

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Producer's Notebook: Second row seat to Casey Anthony saga
July 5th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Producer's Notebook: Second row seat to Casey Anthony saga

(CNN) - Casey Anthony appeared tense this morning as she entered the courtroom, with the gravity of three years in custody, thirty-five days on trial, and a second day of jury deliberations clearly apparent in her face. From the second row of the courtroom viewing gallery, I watched her sit down and have an animated conversation with Dorothy Clay Sims, a member of her defense team, before the jury was called in to be spoken to by the judge.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, on the other hand, looked relaxed, albeit worn out, as he strolled into the courtroom joking with a reporter about finally getting some sleep last night. For prosecutors, the long grueling days of the Casey Anthony saga are finally coming to an end. For the woman at the center of this saga, this trial could very well spell the beginning of the end of her life. All both sides can do, like the American public that’s been captivated by this case, is sit and wait for the jury to decide her fate.

I found myself with a second row seat to this saga because I’ve been sent on assignment by AC360° to help cover the verdict and secure interviews with the defense team, the prosecution, jurors and, ideally, Anthony’s family. The interest in this case is so intense, however, that actually getting into the courtroom this morning was no small feat.
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