Amid a flurry of enticing promises of jaw-dropping controversy and startling revelations, the January 23, 2014 deposition of Casey Anthony was released to the public on February 25, 2014. The Orlando, Florida woman had been indicted and stood trial for the 2008 murder of her two-year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony. In 2011, she was acquitted of the more serious charges: first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse. She was convicted of four counts of lying to law enforcement. Later this ruling would be overturned and the charges of lying would be reduced to just two counts. While Anthony and her attorneys celebrated a “victory,” there is a basic explanation for the ruling. Anthony was questioned by law enforcement in two separate interviews conducted several hours apart. She DID have the opportunity to reflect on and consider her answers, and she repeated some of these same lies in the second interview.
The court rejected Anthony’s assertion of double jeopardy, or that she felt she was under arrest at this point, and that she had not been Mirandized [properly informed of her rights under the law]. It was concluded that she was guilty of a single act of lying on two separate occasions. In other words, the court found that when Anthony answered questions in the first and second interviews, everything that came out of her mouth was a lie. What a victory!
The January 23 deposition was connected to the civil suit filed by Zenaida Gonzalez, the woman who claims she was defamed by Anthony’s false claim that a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez had kidnapped Caylee. To law enforcement, Anthony gave two different accounts of this “kidnapping.” In one version, she claimed that she dropped her daughter off at the “nanny’s” apartment at the Sawgrass Apartments, as she often did, while employed as an event planner at Universal Orlando. In the other version of the kidnapping, she claimed that she was physically attacked by Gonzalez and Gonzalez’ sister at a local park. According to Anthony, these two women stole her baby. These were just two of the many different accounts that Casey Anthony gave law enforcement.
Anthony was briefly employed by a Universal subcontractor photography kiosk, taking photographs of visitors arriving to the park. In fact, she had not been employed at Universal for years. Her own lawyer, Jose Baez, would state in court that Anthony dressed every day to go to a nonexistent job. Indeed, one of the lying charges centered on that event planner job. During the initial investigation into Caylee’s alleged kidnapping, Anthony led police detectives through several buildings at Universal until finally, as she neared her “office,” she stated, “Okay, you got me, I don’t work here!”
This case attracted international interest. Because of this, Gonzalez was wrongly identified as the woman who kidnapped little Caylee. In her civil lawsuit against Anthony, Gonzalez claims that she lost her job, her apartment, and that she and her young daughters were harassed and threatened by the public. In the 107-page deposition, one of Gonzalez’ attorneys, Keith Mitnik of Morgan and Morgan, attempted to “extract the truth” out of Anthony. He planned to demonstrate that Anthony had many opportunities to exonerate Gonzalez of any culpability. This Zenaida Gonzalez [Anthony referred to her as Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez] was not the fictitious nanny who cared for Anthony’s daughter while Anthony was employed at her fictitious job, and she was not involved in the fictitious kidnapping.
Casey Anthony was unwilling to admit this during her incarceration and was just as unwilling to do it during her deposition. Anthony introduces a new word into her vocabulary–assumption. Broad assumption, general assumption, in some of her answers she actually used the word appropriately. She also demonstrated to Mitnik that with the aid of her attorney, Cheney Mason, she could refuse to answer some of his questions with impunity and without valid grounds…just because she felt like it. She was insulted with Mitnik’s insinuations that she was lying or capable of lying. She also accused him of making a “general assumption,” when he concluded that she was upset with her mother, although she had just told him that she was upset with her mother Anthony even uttered this precious tidbit to Mitnik….
“I said it. That doesn’t mean that those were my words whatsoever.”
Nothing really new or startling in the world according to Anthony.
Depositions, by their very nature, can be contentious and confrontational, with fireworks and shouting on both sides. This was mild and tame by comparison – no fireworks, minimal name-calling or swearing. Casey Anthony lying, even under oath, is nothing new, but merely an indication that she is indeed, alive and breathing. [Throughout her trial, the depth of her lies inspired the phrase: If her lips are moving, she's lying!] I was amused by Cheney Mason’s use of the word “scandalous” to describe Mitnik’s questions…is that a valid objection? Even in Florida? Also, I can’t help but notice that Amanda Knox, in her most recent blog, “Perugia, ti voglio bene,” also referred to the Meredith Kercher murder as a scandal! I find it an extremely odd choice of words in both circumstances.
In Casey Anthony’s deposition, she refused to answer any question regarding her daughter, Caylee, even if she had previously answered the same question worded somewhat differently. If Mitnik added the word Caylee, Anthony pleaded the Fifth Amendment OR simply refused to answer the question AND/OR threatened to walk out. There were a few revelations in the deposition though. When she answered the question regarding the “nanny,” she stated that HER Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez was indeed a real person! Despite the prior claims of her attorney, Jose Baez, that “Zanny” was one of Anthony’s “make-believe friends,” Anthony claimed that her Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez babysat Caylee on one occasion. She went on to answer that she met her through ex-fiance, Jesse Grund. Grund is a real human being, not one of Anthony’s make-believe friends. When Mitnik asked her if she was aware that Grund had been questioned by law enforcement regarding this subject, she stated that she “wasn’t sure.” OOPS!
With neither of the attorneys agreeing upon what were appropriate questions and whether or not Anthony can be compelled to answer the questions, the deposition ended with the agreement to let the judge decide. The March 4th, 2014 ruling came swiftly, leaving both sides disappointed. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, K. Rodney May ruled that “For now,” Anthony does not have to answer questions regarding Caylee, but she must answer questions as they relate to her ever-changing story regarding her false allegations that Gonzalez kidnapped her daughter and whether she ever cleared Gonzalez of this defamation. Cheney Mason expressed concern to the judge that if Anthony is forced to answer these questions, she will be at risk of facing federal perjury charges!
In the next deposition, Judge May instructed Gonzalez’s lawyers to call him immediately if Anthony continues to refuse to answer these questions. He said he would make sure she answers them. So it seems that Anthony will be held accountable for the stories that she told federal investigators, who were brought into this case under the federal kidnapping statute. The Federal Kidnapping Act, or the Lindbergh Law, allows federal law enforcement to more effectively deal with kidnappings than state, county or local authorities, because they have national law enforcement authority.
This case has been analyzed and scrutinized relentlessly. Public outrage has never truly died down and the mere mention of her name reignites the passionate outcry that she pay for her crime. She will. Not by mystical Karma but by the justice system that we hold dear. There have been many theories regarding why or how she got away with murder, whether through cover-ups, bribes or corruption in the legal system. The unfortunate, uncomfortable and more frightening truth may be that Casey Anthony was judged and acquitted by a “jury of her peers.” For ONCE, the system actually managed to throw together twelve people who are truly Anthony’s peers. Did they believe that she did nothing wrong? That children are disposable and easily replaced? Did they accept that Anthony, as a young woman, made some mistakes but she shouldn’t have to pay with her life or pay any consequences at all?
Casey Anthony didn’t testify in her murder trial. It’s unclear whether this Florida jury was confused or simply agreed that her actions reflected how THEY WOULD ACT in her situation. The few media interviews with her jurors demonstrated that they didn’t understand what constituted reasonable doubt or understand their role as a juror. They misunderstood or didn’t care about jury instructions, and clearly didn’t know they WERE required to pick up those little pencils and connect those dots.
The lies Anthony told and her ever-changing stories astounded us all. Her acquittal rocked the nation and rippled around the world. In law, there are many avenues leading to justice. Her attorneys cannot continue to manipulate the system at every turn. They’ve merely demonstrated exemplary stalling tactics and nothing more.
Horses may not always drink when you want them to, but they will eventually, drink.