Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Trials of the Anthonys

It's a bit early in the millennium for a "trial of the century," but here we go again. And just like the trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995, the nation is riveted by the live televised courtroom drama of the trial of Casey Anthony for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. A large coterie of commentators that analyze every word of testimony has become a nightly staple for trial-watchers, and a whole new lexicon of phrases has entered the national conversation: "Smell Test," "Chloroform Searches," "Hot Body Contests," "Shot Girls," and "Bella Vita." A cast of characters, in and out of court, complete the sideshow, including fistfights among queued citizens hoping for a seat, and the arrest of one spectator caught on camera giving the finger to the lead prosecutor. So far, he's the only one that's been sentenced to jail. The pundits also hail back to the O.J. trial. Marcia Clark showed up on CNN with Dan Abrams, while Fox News went with Mark Fuhrman. The network of record for the trial is Headline News, which features post-court analysis by Dr. Drew Pinsky, big-haired Jane Velez-Mitchell, Joy Behar, and the venomous Nancy Grace, inventor of the phrase, "Tot Mom." If the verdict depended on public opinion, Nancy Grace would be swabbing "Tot Mom's" arm right now.

The trial gives us the most intimate view since the Loud Family in the 1970s of the inner-dynamics of a dysfunctional household. This is also basically a story about mothers and their daughters. Ratings show the overwhelming number of trial viewers are women with young children.  Like most sane people, they can't believe that any mother would murder her own child in order to "live the good life," as the prosecution charges. Since Caylee disappeared in June, 2008, we have come to know this family and their tortured story. Between George's cries, Cindy's lies, and Casey's sighs, we feel the grief of these parents torn between the death of a grandchild and the potential loss of a daughter as well. The courtroom demeanor of Casey Anthony, however, can only be described as chilling. While she scoffs at her fathers' tears and gazes at her mother with thinly disguised contempt, her stoic expression and hollow eyes are filled with a soullessness that no testimony could ever capture. Even an occasional viewer of  Law and Order knows she's guilty as hell, but why does she need to drag her entire family down with her?

Everybody lies in court, from the attorneys to the police, but Casey Anthony is the Michelangelo of lying. She has more imaginary friends than I have real ones. Casey created "Zanny the Nanny" from a name on an apartment guest register. But she didn't just take the woman's name, she created a mother and sister for the phantom babysitter, supplied marital information and gave her a college education. Among the innocents victimized by this case, a real person named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzales had her life ruined for sport. Casey thought the more elaborate the lie, the more believable, and thus walked the police all the way into Universal Studios before admitting she didn't  work there, despite the fact she had been getting up and going to her fake job for two years. If she is such a nimble liar, my question is, did she believe she could remain free while they searched for the fabricated nanny forever? And if her child drowned, as the defense claims, how to explain the fresh tattoo she got the next day, or the month of hard-partying before admitting her daughter was missing? Casey suffers from the narcissism of the assumed pretty. Her pals were all hooking-up and her boyfriend du jour didn't want a child around. Hot bodies are fleeting.

Unlike the O.J. trial, defense attorney Jose Baez is no Johnny Cochran. His slogan should be, "If your lawyer gets licked, you must convict." Either Casey looked in the Yellow Pages for "Worst Attorneys in Orlando," or she hired him from "Lawyers R' Us." His fumfering, ill-prepared delivery makes him look particularly clumsy next to the professionalism of prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton.  Baez' stunning opening statements about sexual abuse, incest, and the accusation that George Anthony covered up  his granddaughter's drowning were left hanging in the air like the stench of death in a car trunk. Casey watched impassively while her counsel allowed Cindy to perjure herself in an effort to save her daughter's life. Not possessing any such motherly instincts, Casey is like a human wrecking ball, destroying everything in her path. The deleted computer searches sink both Casey and Cindy, who now faces charges of perjury. All the news-talkers expressed amazement at the ineptitude of Jose Baez but after his fourth rebuke from Judge Belvin Perry, I began to glimpse his genius strategy. He needs more time to develop his theory that the meter-reader did it, so regardless of the jury's verdict, an appeals court is bound to grant Casey a new trial on the grounds of incompetent counsel.

With the Florida death penalty at stake, this is truly reality television. Most likely, Casey will never reveal what actually happened to Caylee. Jose Baez conjured an image of George Anthony holding his drowned grandchild while plotting the disposal of her remains, then he never mentioned it to the jury again. My favorite new legal opiner, attorney Mark Eiglarsh, said "It's hard to prove murder without a cause of death." After 84 Google searches for "chloroform," and additional searches for "neck-breaking," and "internal bleeding," on the family computer, any reasonable juror might suspect pre-meditation, regardless of the cause of death. The emotionless Casey may finally show traces of humanity after she is convicted, but because of the overwhelming sympathy for Cindy and the wrecked Anthony family, she'll be spared the death penalty. Whatever the result of this sad episode, a child is dead and a family is ruined. A life sentence might allow Casey the time to train her hyper-imagination toward writing fiction. And if she still misses her party-girl life, I hear there's lots of sex in prison. Personally, I'd like to see "Tot Mom" put under house arrest. Only, it has to be in Nancy Grace's house.


Anonymous said...

Randy, Casey was referred to Baez by another inmate in the local jail. You can bet a future attorney will allege Baez was incompetent and who can argue that. This circus will go on for years. Casey's parents will divorce, and one or both will probably end up taking their lives. If I had a daughter who lied like Casey, I would have run away from home years ago.

Sireen said...

Well! The verdict is in! That tramp is waking here! Heaven help us all! SIREEN

Anonymous said...

I wonder if any people were cheering the way they did when OJ was acquitted? She may still have to serve some time. Maybe someone kill her in prison.

Cindy said...

@Anonymous - then they'd better hurry the hell up!