By Charles Kiker
“We need to start talking about a nation of broken people where broken people can be redeemed” (Alan Bean, Friends of Justice blog “Royal Visit . . .” July 8, 2011).
I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial closely. I did watch some of the closing arguments. I fully expected that she would be convicted of at least a lesser charge than the first degree murder, and would not have been surprised if she had been convicted on all counts. After all, that’s what juries do 95% of the time. So I was mildly surprised, but not shocked and outraged, when she was acquitted of all felony charges. I was not at all surprised that she was convicted of four charges of lying to the investigators, nor was I outraged at the punishment meted out by the court for those misdemeanors.
I was not at all prepared for the vitriol directed toward the jury for the verdict. That was a bloodthirsty crowd pictured outside the courtroom after the verdict. I hope and dare to believe that that crowd was not representative of the citizens of the city where the trial was conducted, nor of the citizenry of the United States as a whole.
None of those who were so outraged sat with the twelve jurors—thirteen really, an alternate juror expressed his opinion in concurrence with the twelve. The jurors were not charged with determining whether or not Casey Anthony is a bad girl, but whether, beyond reasonable doubt, she killed, with malice aforethought, her daughter Caylee. The jury did not say she was innocent. They said that in their collective opinion the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The jury did what it was charged to do.
I am disturbed but not surprised that politicians are seeking to capitalize on the verdict. Already “Caylee’s laws” are being proposed in Oklahoma and Texas. These laws would make it a felony not to report a missing child after 24 hours. Not a bad idea, but the Oklahoma legislator went on to render his opinion of Casey’s guilt. He did not sit with the jurors through the trial either.
Casey Anthony is most certainly a broken person. Probably more broken than most. But we need to be a nation where broken people can be redeemed, even Casey Anthony.
Charles Kiker, a retired pastor and educator, is a charter member of Friends of Justice