Next for Casey Anthony: Freedom, Book Deals

By: From CNN
By: From CNN

ORLANDO (CNN) -- Don't be surprised if Casey Anthony walks out of jail a free woman after her sentencing Thursday, legal experts say.
And, they add, there is nothing stopping her from cashing in on book or movie deals -- as her acquittal on serious charges now means she is free to profit off her story.

With Tuesday's not guilty verdict on murder charges behind her, Anthony -- and the thousands riveted by every twist in the case -- now turn their attention to Thursday when the 25-year-old will learn her fate.

A jury on Tuesday found Anthony not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee. But she still faces sentencing on four counts of lying to police regarding a missing person case.

Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, for which Judge Belvin Perry has the option of sentencing her consecutively or concurrently.

Many legal experts believe Anthony will be freed on time-served because she has already been jailed for about three years.

"I would be surprised if she doesn't walk out of the courtroom Thursday," said Atlanta defense lawyer Penny Douglas Furr. "She has served so much time already. I don't think the judge will make her serve any more time. The real question now is, what will she do next."

The Orange County Corrections Department said in a statement Wednesday its policy is to "release a jury-acquitted inmate from the courthouse under normal circumstances. However, due to the high profile nature of this case and intense, emotional interest by the public, appropriate measures will be taken to release the acquitted into the community in such a manner so as to preserve the safety of the acquitted individual and the public."

There will be no legal restrictions on Anthony profiting on the details of this case, cashing in on deals for movies, books or interviews, analysts say.

Because of her acquittal, so-called Son of Sam laws -- laws designed to keep criminals from earning money from their crimes -- do not apply, they say.

"Why can't she make money off of her story," said Drew Findling, another defense lawyer. "You've seen so many cases where witnesses for the prosecution have profited from the case. Look at the O.J. Simpson case and how the prosecutor, who lost the case, wrote books and made money afterward. So why can't Casey do it?"

HLN's Nancy Grace, who has covered the Anthony case extensively since Caylee was reported missing in 2008, did not mince words about Anthony's possible plans.

"Now tot mom finally has the beautiful life that she envisioned. She's free," Grace said on her show Tuesday. "She will walk free as early as this Thursday. She's set up to make very likely over a million dollars off the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony."

Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew," said, "If she's as much of a monster as the court of public opinion believes... this is not the last we have heard from her. She will have her day. She will do something else that will collapse in chaos around her for sure. That's just the way these people are. If, indeed, she is what we think her to be."

Anthony faces a defamation lawsuit and received a subpoena for a videotaped deposition Tuesday night in jail.

When Caylee went missing, Anthony said the 2-year-old was with a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez. Eventually confronted by her family, she maintained that Gonzalez had kidnapped Caylee.

Authorities never found a nanny by that name who cared for Caylee. They found a woman named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, who denied ever meeting the Anthonys and later filed the defamation lawsuit. The seven-week criminal trial ended with less than 11 hours of deliberation when an Orange County jury found Anthony not guilty of the most serious charges.

"This jury ignored the scientific evidence," said New York lawyer Susan Moss. "Apparently, they found the only 12 people who still think the world is flat."

But Andrea Lyon, who once represented Anthony, said the evidence wasn't there.

"That prosecution overreached," Lyon said on "AC360." "They used junk science. They attempted to overwhelm the lack of evidence with character assassination. They did not have evidence of a homicide."

The jurors in the case declined to speak to the media as did four alternate jurors. The fifth, Russell Huekler, told CNN he agreed with the verdict "wholeheartedly."

"The prosecution did not prove their case," Huekler said. "The big question that was not answered: How did Caylee die?"

Through the course of the trial, dozens lined up outside the Orlando courtroom to get a glance at the spectacle. The proceedings featured allegations of sexual abuse, questions regarding Anthony's competence and various theories on what happened to Caylee.

Prosecutors alleged 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.

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 Anthony and her father, George, panicked upon finding her there and covered up the death.

Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, also alleged that Anthony's father sexually abused her from the age of 8 and she had been taught to conceal her pain. The upbringing explained some of Anthony's bizarre behavior during the time her daughter was missing, he argued.

According to testimony, Anthony was not looking frantically for her missing child as she later told police. Instead, she moved out of her parents' home and stayed with her then-boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro. She also got a tattoo saying "Bella Vita" -- Italian for "beautiful life" -- and went shopping, witnesses said. She also partied at Orlando nightclubs and participated in a "hot body" contest at one point, according to testimony.

George Anthony denied the molestation claim in testimony, saying, "I would never do anything like that to my daughter."

Throughout the trial, the pain experienced by Anthony's family was evident. Both her father and mother sobbed on the stand at times recalling their granddaughter. George Anthony also cried as he testified about his January 2009 suicide attempt, which came shortly after Caylee's remains were identified.

At one point during the trial, Anthony's mother, Cindy, was seen mouthing the words "I love you" to her. After the verdict, the parents released a statement saying they wished to "move forward privately" and requested the media respect their privacy.

"While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives," the parents' statement said. Cindy Anthony could face perjury charges, one of the prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder trial said Wednesday.

Cindy Anthony testified that she was responsible for Internet searches on the family's home computer for information about chloroform. But records indicated she was at work at the time.

When asked whether legal action will be taken against Cindy Anthony for allegedly perjuring herself on the witness stand, Jeff Ashton responded, "I think there could be. That will be a decision made by another branch of our office."

If Casey Anthony is released Thursday, it is unclear whether she will be rebuilding her relationship with her parents.

In Session correspondent Jean Casarez said she asked Cheney Mason of Anthony's defense team where Anthony will go when she is free.

"He told me it would not, with all seriousness, be back to her family home," Casarez recounted. "But, of course, anything is possible."


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