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- Listening Length: 11 hours and 34 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HarperAudio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 Nov. 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00684FYS0
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Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony Audiobook – Unabridged
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Another somewhat academic question is, is she a sociopath or just a narcissistic personality gone amuck? And to what extent are her co-dependent parents responsible for her becoming a pathological liar, a thief and a nutcase? It seems clear that Cindy the mother has lived a life of denial about her daughter's steady stream of lies while the father seems...shall we say vulnerable in some sense.
The book is very well written, definitely at the top of true crime tales on a par with something by Ann Rule or Edward Humes. The extensive forensic info will delight CSI fans to no end. And I like the way the story is told, simply but thoroughly beginning with the verdict but then flashing back to the real beginning and moving from there to the end. Professional crime writer Lisa Pulitzer is no doubt responsible for most of the clear prose. Her job was probably more difficult than might be imagined at first blush since prosecutor Jeff Ashton speaks in the first person throughout the narrative and must (1) explain the facts of the case and most important (2) why he didn't get a conviction. Prior to this case Ashton had a sterling record as a prosecutor, winning almost all of seventy-some cases he tried.
He comes off as reasonable, rationale, fair, intelligent, thorough, experienced, motivated, eminently sane, and personable in no particular order. He praises the right people and damns with a measured tone those people like Karen Lowe who in his view didn't do a good job. She comes off as incompetent after she failed to check to see that cloth material was in fact in the manufacture of the duct tape even though it was washed away in the swamp water. Ashton seems almost forgiving (but exasperated) at Roy Kronk who found the body but muddied up the waters with inconsistent statements. For defense attorney Jose Baez, Ashton shows contempt and something close to hatred, although he begrudgingly gives him some praise for some (lesser) qualities. He actually admits hatred for Casey Anthony at one point when he is at the morgue and views Caylee's poor, little, fleshless bones... I think most readers can understand that.
Ashton's position (stated on page 167) is that Casey Anthony committed premeditated murder. He dismisses the idea that Caylee was accidentally killed and then a cover-up was staged. He points out that if Casey had administered "accidental death while giving Caylee chloroform, or while using tape to silence her" it would "still be murder." (p. 309)
I think if Ashton and his team had emphasized this point of law, the jury might have come to a different conclusion, or perhaps have been a hung jury. (Ashton reports that ten of the twelve jurors were almost immediately for acquittal and had to spend some time convincing the other two, so a conviction was highly unlikely regardless.)
My position on the duct tape is that indeed it was an attempt at a cover up that Casey abandoned. If she had murdered her daughter using duct tape don't you think she would have removed the tape before disposing of the body? Additionally, suffocating a three-year-old (Caylee was almost three years old when she died) with duct tape seems an awkward way to do it. I suspect that if Casey wanted to suffocate Caylee she would have used a pillow or held her head under water.
The real question about the case to many people is why wasn't Casey found guilty?
Ashton cites a lack of a cause of death, a not very good jury, and the testimony from friends that Casey was a loving mother as the main reasons she got off.
My sense is that real reason the jury wouldn't convict was that they could not believe that Casey had a sufficient motive for murdering her daughter. The motive presented by the prosecution was that Casey just wanted to party and that Caylee was interfering with her fun. This has some merit; however, what I think is really significant is the fact that Caylee was Casey's trump card vis-à-vis her mother. The fact of Caylee's existence gave Casey power over not just her mother but her father and gave her status. I think this is the real reason the jury wouldn't convict her. They understood the power politics that mothers and daughters and grandmothers play.
One thing that Casey had in the midst of all her personal failures is Caylee whom everyone adored. That gave her power. She wasn't about to give that up.
In this respect perhaps the key to the case is the chloroform. Casey may have used the chloroform (or some drug) to put her daughter to sleep so she could party. She could have left Caylee with her mother Cindy but she wanted to keep Caylee for herself and not allow Caylee to prefer Cindy to her. The invention of the nanny of course was kind of a fantasy fulfillment for Casey: somebody other than her mother who would take care of Caylee so she could party. It made no sense for Caylee to kill her daughter. That's the point that I think Ashton never understood. In the absence of a perfect nanny, chloroform became in Casey's crazed mind a possible substitute.
In seeking the death penalty (although technically it didn't matter since the jury could always find for manslaughter or something else that didn't carry the death penalty) I think the prosecutors allowed their emotions to override their common sense and professional understanding. However I'm with Ashton when he writes, "What I find truly baffling...is that somehow they did not see the proof enough to convict her of a lesser murder charge or even manslaughter." (p. 316) He adds, "...[O]ne thing that seems quite apparent is that, either through her own deliberate actions or through some kind of negligence, Casey was involved in her daughter's death." (p. 317) Yes.
I also think that the very sane and rational Jeff Ashton didn't really understand Casey Anthony. He didn't realize what a nut case she is. He thought of her as a cold-blooded murderer, but failed to realize what her pathological lying, her thievery and her denial of reality should have told him, namely that some people (jurors) might find that she wasn't entirely capable of knowing what she was doing. Not that I subscribe to such a view. Personally it doesn't matter how nutty she is. She is guilty just the same. However, if you realize that her propensity for putting off consequences with each new lie makes it clear that she is the kind of person who could put her dead daughter in the trunk of a car and put off the consequences just a little longer to go party.
The question is can you accidentally kill a child with an overdose of chloroform? From what I could gather on the Web, the answer is yes. My guess is that is what really happened. Here's another idea that I got from the blog, "It's a mystery to me.wordpress.com":
"One of her friends stated that Casey brought Caylee to parties, and she was amazed that Caylee slept through all the commotion. Sounds like Casey might have drugged Caylee when she didn't have a babysitter. It's not much of a stretch to imagine she put her drugged baby in the trunk of her car when the party was at a club where kids weren't allowed. Caylee could have died from an overdose or from overheating in the trunk."
Bottom line on the book itself: it's great read, fairly and interestingly presented giving excellent insight into the case and especially into how the prosecution built and presented their case. With a different jury perhaps Casey Anthony would be in prison today.
By the way, other famous true crime cases are critiqued in my book, "Dennis Littrell's True Crime Companion" available at Amazon.
Not quite three-years-old, little Caylee Marie Anthony was last seen on Monday, June 16, 2008. Her mother, Casey, did not report Caylee's disappearance for (let's say) thirty-one days. During this time, Casey told numerous people various lies as to where her daughter was. All the while, Casey partied as if there were no tomorrow. She was eventually accused of killing her daughter. On July 5, 2011, nearly three years after her initial arrest, Casey Anthony walked away, virtually scot-free. It was the trial and verdict that shocked America.
Linda Drane Burdick, the chief of the sexcrimes/child abuse unit, had the Caylee Anthony case since the beginning. Frank George, a ten-year veteran of the State Attorney's Office, was already on board with her, but as this shaped up to be a homicide, Linda wanted Jeff Ashton on her prosecuting team. She got him too.
In this book, prosecutor Jeff Ashton explains how Casey Anthony was (finally) forced by her mother, Cindy, to admit the disappearance of her daughter, Caylee. Ashton then begins to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the investigation, the trial, and the stunning verdict.
**** FOUR STARS! If you are looking for a neutral book about the case, go elsewhere. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton's version is very biased. Though (personally) I totally agree with Ashton, there are sections in the book that I feel turned into lectures and got off topic. These areas happened too often for me, but I eventually managed to consider these sections as static or filler. However, when it comes to stating facts, showing how conclusions are reached, and explaining the science used in research, Ashton did wonderfully. Ashton goes into detail about how the crime scene is handled, the various lies and mood-swings of Casey, Decomposition Odor Analysis, DNA, forensics, and so much more. Through it all, Ashton's wording ensures that the reader can easily comprehend everything.
I have a problem with one description (beginning at the bottom of page forty-three) where Casey enters Universal Studios to lead the officers with her through the gate and to her fictional office. This section reads, "She took a left at the first building, walked to the end of the roadway, and took them left again at the next intersection..." One of the photos in this book uses arrow marks showing the route taken. Unless I am viewing it totally wrong, they entered the gate and took a right at the first building. (I had someone else read the section and compare it to the photo. That person agrees that I am not mistaken.) Yes, it may be a minor point, but it still bothered me enough to mention it because I was doing my best to pay strict attention to all the evidence. Still, I found this True Crime novel to be utterly fascinating. (And that is saying something since I seldom read non-fiction.) Well worth your time and money. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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Would recommend whether you know a lot about the case or not.