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What life is like for Casey Anthony three years after she stood trial for her daughter’s murder

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(CNN) — It was three years ago that people across the nation and around the world held their breath.

After a two-month trial, the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial announced they had arrived at a verdict.

Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter.

The nation was first introduced to Casey Anthony in July 2008. The country fell in love with her precious daughter, Caylee, who had gone missing in Orlando, Florida.

A massive missing persons search for the little girl ensued.

Casey AnthonyPolice were suspicious of what Anthony, then 22, was telling them. She lied about her nanny taking the child. She lied about working at Universal Studios.

Anthony suddenly became the most hated woman in America.

On July 16, 2008, Anthony was arrested on suspicion of child neglect. Her attorney was an unknown Florida lawyer named Jose Baez. A Florida grand jury indicted Anthony on capital murder charges October 14, 2008. A utility worker found Caylee’s skeletal remains in a wooded area near the Anthony home in December 2008, and several months later, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

Support from lawyers

Watching in the wings was another Florida lawyer, Cheney Mason. A former president of the Florida Association of Criminal Lawyers, Mason, who just that year had been selected by Florida Monthly magazine as one of Florida’s top lawyers, was disgusted with the local media coverage about the relatively inexperienced Baez.

“I was offended by it. I was offended by the fact that he wasn’t being treated fairly. I didn’t know Baez. I had never met him,” Mason said.

Casey AnthonyBaez started asking Mason, a Florida death penalty qualified attorney, for advice. That propelled Mason to want to meet Anthony. He remembers going to the Orange County jail to introduce himself.

“They brought her to the room, and I have to tell you I was really surprised to see how small she is … how tiny she is. I stood looking at a child herself. I said this can’t be,” he said.

Mason has written the new book, “Justice in America.” In it, he insists that the jury got it right, and the rest of the country had it wrong.

“Could she look you in the eye?” CNN’s┬áJean Casarez asked.

“Oh yes,” Mason responded, describing her demeanor as quiet, afraid and unsure.

After that meeting, with Anthony’s approval, Mason decided to join the team pro bono. He said the unpaid time he spent on the case “was well over a million dollars” and cost him tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

Mason said in the years before trial, he normally met with Anthony in a lunch room at the jail. The jail would clear everyone out before Anthony came in. A stationary video camera in the room was positioned on their conversations, so he and Anthony would cover their mouths and speak in low tones to each other, Mason said.

Handwritten letters alleging sexual abuse

Shortly before jury selection was to begin, Mason got word that Anthony’s handwritten letters describing sexual abuse at the hands of her father were going to be made public under Florida’s open records law.

He believed it was only right that Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy, were warned. He called them to his office late on a Friday afternoon.

“We had them one at a time come into my personal office and made the announcement: ‘Monday’s going to be a bad day for you George. I felt man to man I would tell you in advance.””

Mason said George Anthony’s reaction was “basically none.” “He looked at me … I turned sideways a little bit, he clapped his hands down on his thighs — let out a big sigh but didn’t say anything,” Mason said.

“He never admitted doing anything,” Mason said. “All we had were the letters and (separately) the statements Casey had made to the psychiatrist.”

Next it was Cindy Anthony’s turn. “We called Mom in, Cindy, and told her and she immediately welled up with emotion, cried, was very upset,” Mason said.

Once a jury was selected it was time for the evidentiary portion of the trial. Baez gave the opening statements. In the midst of telling the jury what the evidence would show, he delivered a bombshell that turned the case on its head by telling the jury that his client was a victim of sexual abuse by her father.

The country was stunned and so was Mason, who was sitting next to Anthony in the courtroom.

“I didn’t know that he was going to say that. We had talked about all aspects of it, and I did not know. I don’t know if anybody knew that he was going to say that other than himself,” Mason recalled.

I asked Mason if he was concerned the defense would not be able to establish this with evidence as promised during the opening statement. Mason said he was.

“Yes, I was concerned about that because I knew we didn’t have the ability to prove that unless George got on the stand and confessed,” he said.

The prosecution responded by making George Anthony its first witness. The first question Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton asked him was whether he had sexually abused his daughter. George Anthony responded with a definitive no.

Casey AnthonyTrial goes on … and on

The trial went on for weeks. Witness after witness took the stand for the prosecution in the largely circumstantial case. They finally rested their case on June 15, 2011. Then it was the defense’s turn.

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

In the midst of the defense case, Mason described how out-of-court conversations with the prosecution suddenly turned to possible plea discussions. Anthony was approached with the possibility.

Casey Anthony“Casey got very angry about that. She got very angry to hear talk about it. She didn’t want to hear it.” Mason said. “Casey would fight it ’til her last breath. She didn’t kill her daughter.”

Mason said he believes it took a lot of courage and strength for Anthony to end any talk of a plea agreement. She knew what was at stake in this death penalty trial.

Casey Anthony So, plea discussions were stopped in their tracks, Mason said, and the trial went on.

Then, on July 5, 2011, after deliberating for 10 hours, jurors announced they had reached a verdict.

“She was holding her breath like a deep sea diver, waiting as we all were,” Mason said.

Anthony was acquitted by the 12-person jury on the most serious charges, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. But the jury convicted her on four misdemeanors of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

Casey Anthony today

Anthony now lives in an undisclosed location in Florida and doesn’t go out of the home she is living in because of the public hate and continued threats to her life, Mason said.

“She has to live constantly on guard. She can’t go out in public,” Mason said.

By her own choice, she works inside the home, Mason said, and is living as “a housekeeper, clerk, secretary and stuff like that.”

“I think Casey has a lot of world left to have to deal with. She hasn’t been freed from her incarceration yet ’cause she can’t go out. She can’t go to a beauty parlor, she can’t go shopping to a department store, she can’t go to a restaurant, she can’t even go to McDonald’s. She can’t do anything,” he said.

Mason and his wife, Shirley, have continued a relationship with Anthony. Now three years after being acquitted, Mason said Anthony still distrusts the outside world.

“Casey is aloof,” Mason said. “She is kind of, I think, afraid of people … she’s not real close to. We’ve had a couple of occasions to have social gatherings that can include her — close friends, the (legal) team. She still likes to back away from the middle.”

Anthony “does not have any blood family anymore,” Mason said. The family she has is the residual of the defense team, Dorothy Clay Sims, Lisabeth Fryer and Mason’s wife.

Mason said although there may have been a few conversations between Anthony and her mother in recent years, there is no relationship.

And as for a relationship with her father? “None,” Mason said emphatically.

Shirley Mason has also gotten to know Anthony over the past three years.

“I’m a cross between a friend, a mother, but not a mother — only someone who is older who has had experience in the world she has not had,” she said.

Mason gives Anthony advice, but also listens to her when they talk.

“My hope for her is it gets better for her and the world or the people who have been so hateful can let that go and they can move on,” she said.

Anthony “tries to make her life work,” Shirley Mason said. She takes care of herself and stays physically fit by working out in the house.

“I do think she wants to speak out,” Mason said. Anthony declined CNN’s request for an interview.

“I have never asked her that, but I know she has very strong feelings for what has happened to her. I also know she’s very saddened by her loss and she will never forget her daughter Caylee, ever.”

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25 comments

  • Suzan Clark

    Well you know, you can judge a person by the friends they keep. He is her only friend- says a lot about the both of them. He is writing a book-that’s the reason for this PR article?- is it written on toilet paper? Flush…

  • witty

    I wondered if it really could have been an accident but even if it was, Casey’s actions afterwards were enough for me to wish her ill for the remainder of her life. I never once believed the sexual abuse allegations. It was the only card left for her to play. I knew her Dad had to be chomping at the bit not to fight it but not to admit it. I may seem hateful but I believe people make their own beds. The hell she is in is punishment for the hell she put her parents and the country through, not to mention the lack of respect for her deceased child who was found in the woods. Her life would be different had she just admitted the drowning if that is truly what happened. I will not be reading this attorneys book. By the way, did I miss the part where the author is donating profits to child abuse / missing and exploited children’s charity?

  • Chet G

    wow, the hate-filled comments on here are saddening. We should not pretend to have all the answers and know the truth of the matter from our cozy homes in Kansas City. Judge not lest you be judged in the same measure.

  • Betsy Wactor- Mathews

    Who was responsible for the child at the time and why wasn’t anybody notified she was missing? I can’t believe she is innocent. There was too much evidence that she was covering up for something, along with her father. Only the Grandmother spoke up and seemed to tell the truth. Casey was a pathological liar and that was proven. I don’t know why this lawyer is trying to make her look good. The person who was responsible for the child was Casey and she should know what happened to her daughter. The fact that she was found near her parents home is too coincidental for them not to be involved. The lies she told about the nanny wouldn’t come near placing the child in that area. It was Casey who did it and her father helped her cover it up, it seemed. Or maybe it was an accident but it was still neglect if it was. Casey still hasn’t told the truth about where the baby was the last time she saw her. It was her responsibility to know and that’s why we all blame her. It’s not just hateful talk. I watched every day of that trial. They couldn’t prove Casey killed her and the father was too involved to say he didn’t help in the cover up or do it all himself. The truth never came out. It was one lie upon another. I think the lawyer wants to try and recoup some of his money with this book and is still exploiting the baby, just like those who didn’t care enough to keep her safe. Just because they couldn’t prove who killed the baby doesn’t mean Casey is innocent. If Casey would just tell the truth about that day then I might have an opportunity to believe her.

  • lanie

    If she wasn’t guilty and didn’t know how Caylee died, she would be an outraged Mom demanding a killer be found. Jury got it wrong on this one. I still think she’s guilty. Don’t feel sorry for her one bit!

  • Rebecca Spencer

    she has already been tried, personally I could not live with this especially if I did somethig horrible to a child.
    I hate to see being molested thrown out there as an excuse, not everyone who has lived through that type of life hurts people. It does drive some to drink and do drugs, but not all.
    I don’t know her, but I know her daughter is safe in the arms of the Lord. She has to work out her own end. Wishing suicide and ill on her is a waste of thought, and you make yourself guilty by the ill will.

  • Crystal

    GOOD!!! I hope the rest of her life goes this way!!! I don’t care if she was found not guilty, she’s 100% GUILTY. What kind of mother goes out and parties while their daughter is missing. That’s just one of the things she did wrong!! She’s pure evil and I wish nothing but evil upon her!!! I’m so glad to hear her life isn’t all that great and she can’t go out of the house. That beautiful baby girl will never been able to do anything either b/c of this evil B****!!! I hope she dies lonely and ends up in hell where she belongs!!! I’ve never hated someone I’ve never met as much as I hate this women!!!! RIP: Caylee gone but not forgotten. I think everyone will always remember that sweet beautiful little girl!!!!

  • ARUOTURE THERESA

    WHAT MAKES HER D MOST HATED MOTHER IS THAT SHE LIES A LOT ABOUT EVERYTHING SHE DID,TO D EXTENT OF TRYING TO DESTROY D WHOLE FAMILY REPUTATION, . ONE WORD FOR EVERY PERSON THAT NEVER ADMIT ANY WRONG DID, CAN USE LIES TO DESTROY ONE SELF,AND WORLD

  • mark

    in the latest pics, casey is grinning ear to ear, tanned and wearing a strapless blue dress. she does not appear to be suffering in any way. she looks content knowing that she got away with murder.

  • Robin

    I hope she lives a LONG, MISERABLE life. I can’t claim to know she killed her baby, although all signs say YES. But whatever happened, she certainly didn’t seem to care. All she wanted to do was party while her baby laid dead.
    I wonder how long it will take before has another one? I’m guessing it will be compliments from one of those “close” to her, seeing as she doesn’t get out much. ~And I feel SO sorry for her that she doesn’t have any family left. Poor thing…I’m sure it’s just all an unfortunate misunderstanding. The only reason I’m okay with the verdict she got, is because as a tax payer, I don’t want to have to support her, along with all the other heartless people incarcerated.

  • Sherri Brawn

    I’m going to tell you exactly what I think happened to little Caylee Anthony 8 years ago and it was at the hands of her mother Casey Anthony! I do believe that Casey had some kind of disagreement with her mother Cindy on June 15th/2008 which caused Casey to leave with her daughter Caylee, and go stay with her friend Ricardo at Sawgrass Apartments. Casey lied about working at Universal Studios in effort to keep her parents from worrying about her ability to care for Caylee and even went so far as to tell them that she was going to be living with her friend Jeff in Jacksonville Fla. when she never left the area at all. I believe that Casey wanted to spend her time partying with her friends, and didn’t know how to be a good mother at the same time. I believe that she somehow was able to make Chloroform, or have someone else get it for her, although I doubt it or that person would have surely came forward during the investigation. I truly believe that she was using Chloroform to assist Caylee to sleep, and maybe even remain asleep while she was out at bars ect…. My thoughts are that sometime during that first week, possibly even the first night she and Caylee were away from home (June 16 or 17/2008), Casey used the Chloroform on Caylee, and placed her in the trunk of her car while she went out. I know this sounds horrible, but I believe that she placed duct tape over her mouth solely for the purpose of preventing Caylee from calling out from the trunk if she happened to wake before Casey was done partying. This would explain why the duct tape was found over Caylee’s mouth area when her skeleton was found by the meter reader in December 2008. I believe that after Casey found Caylee had died as either a direct result of too much Chloroform, or possibly suffocation in a hot trunk she panicked, and didn’t know what to do resulting in her leaving poor Caylee’s body in the trunk of her car for up to 3 days maybe more, and this would explain that horrible smell coming from the trunk. George Anthony was a homicide detective, and I think he was bang on when he made the statement of it smelling like “death” in that car. Cindy Anthony being a nurse had also been in contact with that particular odour in the past being a nurse. I believe that she went to her next door neighbours house that day and borrowed a shovel for the specific reason to bury her daughter just down the road from her childhood home. The ground where she buried Caylee’s body was flooded a couple of months after she buried her, and I think that is how her little body made it back up to the surface of the ground where she was later found. I wholeheartedly believe that if little Caylee’s body had been found a lot earlier, before there was extensive decomposition Casey Anthony would be in jail where she belongs today. If my toddler had been taken by my Nanny I can assure you that I wouldn’t sit by for 30 seconds, let alone 30 days without calling the police, and screaming from the rooftops for someone to help me. Her claim that “Zanny” threatened her family with harm if she told the police is just plain ridiculous! No mother on this earth would stop searching for their child if they were at danger no matter what the consequences, right?
    I don’t think that Casey Anthony truly meant to kill her daughter at all, I just believe that she made some very, very poor choices on her hunt to have a “Bella Vita” or Beautiful Life as was depicted on her tattoo she had gotten a couple of weeks after her death.
    If you look at all the facts in this case you will see that it is far more plausable to believe my version of events, than it is to ever believe Casey’s version. Fact is, if you end up asking yourself more questions than when you started chances are it isn’t correct at all………………