Friday, January 25, 2013

Casey Anthony Convictions Reduced To Two

Court Says Casey Only Guilty Of Lying Twice Not Four Times

UPDATE: On the same day, Anthony filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Tampa, claiming $792,000 in debts, including $500,000 owed to attorney Jose Baez. 

ORLANDO, FL. -- Florida's 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated two of four convictions handed out to Casey Anthony by Orange County Circuit Court jurors in the 2011 trial that acquitted her of the murder of daughter Caylee Anthony.

A civil trial Anthony has been facing brought against her by Zenaida Gonzalez has been on hold pending this appeal of her criminal convictions.

The three-judge Court said in it's opinion published today that Casey Anthony appealed her convictions for four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation arising from statements she made to Detective Yuri Melich on July 16, 2008 during an investigation into the disappearance of her young daughter, Caylee Anthony.

Anthony argued that these convictions should be reversed because the trial court should have granted her motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers prior to her having been apprised of her Miranda rights and secondly, her multiple convictions violated the prohibition against double jeopardy; and thirdly section 837.055 of the Florida Statutes is unconstitutionally vague.

The Court rejected the first and third arguments, but concluded that double jeopardy principles require that two of her four misdemeanor convictions be set aside.

The opinion cites the narrative of the events where Anthony lied to officers ('Appellant' is Casey Anthony):

On the evening of July 15, 2008, law enforcement officers arrived at the residence of Appellant’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony, in response to three 9-1-1 calls placed by Cindy Anthony.  In the first two calls, Cindy Anthony requested police assistance in recovering a vehicle and money allegedly stolen by Appellant.  In the third 9-1-1 call, Cindy Anthony reported that her granddaughter, Caylee, had been missing for approximately thirty days.

Cindy Anthony testified that she made these phone calls because Appellant would not tell her where Caylee was.

When the officers arrived, they separated the family members according to their standard procedure and obtained  statements regarding the missing child.  Appellant appeared to be cooperating with the officers and provided information freely and voluntarily.  She informed the officers that she had last seen Caylee when she dropped her off at the apartment of her nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, on June 9, 2008.

Appellant informed the officers that Gonzalez lived at the Sawgrass Apartments in Orlando, but she could not remember the apartment number.

Appellant agreed to go with Deputy Acevedo to the Sawgrass Apartments to show her exactly where she had last seen her daughter.  She sat in the back of Deputy Acevedo’s vehicle with the partition open so that she could communicate with her.  After indicating to Deputy Acevedo the particular apartment where she had purportedly left Caylee, Appellant was driven back to her home where she gave law enforcement officers a written statement.

This was part of the narrative of a convoluted story Anthony told law enforcement officials which led to her arrest and convictions by an Orlando jury.

Anthony argued that double jeopardy principles preclude her from being convicted for more than a single violation of section 837.055, because her various false statements to law enforcement officers constituted a single offense.  The State takes the position that each of Appellant’s false statements constituted a separate offense and, therefore, no double jeopardy violation occurred.

The Appellate Court rejected both parties’ arguments and concluded that under  the facts of this case, Appellant can properly be convicted of two counts of providing false information to a law  enforcement officer during a missing person investigation.

All four of the false statements were made by Appellant in her interview with Detective Melich at the Anthony residence.  Two of the false statements were repeated to Detective Melich in the later interview at Universal Studios, where Anthony falsely claimed she currently worked.

Appellant gave false information to Detective Melich during two separate interviews that took place several hours apart.  The Appellate Court said when there there is a sufficient temporal break between two alleged criminal acts so as to have allowed a defendant time to pause, reflect, and form a new criminal intent, a separate criminal episode will be found to have occurred.

Appellate Court Opinion

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