When I was on Nancy Grace last week, talking about the Casey Anthony case....

First of all, let me just take this opportunity to say that I'm always honored to be invited to appear on the Nancy Grace show. Nancy Grace is a true star of the airwaves today, and a heroine to many. It's very humbling to be appearing before millions in one of those little rectangular talking-head cameo boxes on screen, along with Sue Moss and the rest of the lawyers. I was proud to have been invited once and I'm always thrilled to be asked back again.

And, no - Nancy and I don't agree on many things. Respecting your colleagues doesn't mean you necessarily see eye to eye with them. This is especially true among attorneys, and exceedingly true among the criminal bar. Prosecutors and defense attorneys may fight viciously in the courtroom, but we'll shake hands in the hallway. You know a good lawyer when you see one, even if they're on the other side.

Now, back to the Casey Anthony case ....
Last week, I was on the Nancy Grace show for a couple of nights, because Nancy was talking about the death penalty as it applies in the Casey Anthony matter. Specifically, the fact that the prosecution had taken the death penalty off the table in the Casey Anthony case and Nancy Grace's arguments that the "tot mom" should have a jury decide whether or not the death penalty should apply to her.
Now, before this goes any further let me reiterate: I will not discuss the Casey Anthony case, itself, in any detail or particular. As the attorney who represented Casey Anthony in the death penalty discussions with the Florida state attorney's office, I cannot do that - it violates my work product privilege, attorney-client privilege ... well, you get the idea.
That doesn't mean that I can't discuss generalities, and the law regarding the death penalty today. And with that caveat, there are lots of lessons popping up in the Casey Anthony matter.

The Casey Anthony case - it's revealing many things. Here's one.
One lesson that I'm learning from all this media coverage of the Casey Anthony case is this: the need to know WHY -- why did a beautiful baby, Caylee Anthony, die? Why ... why...why? A hundred questions come to mind.
Well, in all this questioning and need to understand, there's a great many people that are looking at judgment. And that's good. Our society, as with all successful societies, must have rules and judgments that are assessed against those who break those rules. Without this basic structure, we'd live in chaos.
But along with judgment, there must come mercy. At least, in America, we believe in the consideration of mercy before the imposition of judgment.
That is why we have things like probation and parole and personal recognizance. Mercy.
Mercy is my job.
That's my focus, it's the raison d'être of my practice. Death penalty considerations come in the sentencing phase of a defendant's case. Whether or not to impose the death penalty is a decision made only after the defendant has been found guilty of the specific charges that bring with them the possibility of capital punishment.
Judgment and Mercy

In the Casey Anthony case, there's a tremendous amount of airtime and forum group time (think Websleuths) with energies being placed upon judgment.
I'm not seeing much on mercy. Are there considerations that may explain and mitigate this woman IF (and that's right: IF) she did the crime of which she has been accused?
Journalists are taught that to get the whole story, you must ask "who, what, where, when, why, and how."

In the Casey Anthony case, I'm not hearing many people asking that question WHY.
And, to me, that's the most important question. Why. Why did this death happen? Because that's the real answer we all want to know, I think, in any crime. And, because that's where mercy is found.

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Comments (17) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
lin - March 11, 2009 2:23 PM

You should check the Websleuths forum you mentioned. There has extensive discussion about the "Why" ever since the inception of this case.

Kathleen - March 11, 2009 2:53 PM

Very interesting...do you and other criminal defense lawyers use sites like Websleuths to help marshal the evidence and to test theories on what will be sucessful before a jury? I've always wondered how extensively high profile defendants benefit from the keyboard cops who pretend to know so much. On WS, an administrator got the boot because she was a convicted child molester. Ya never know who is posting that's for sure!

AshleyP - March 11, 2009 3:20 PM

Thank you for your knowledge and making this public as The Caylee Daily and other websites as you know are discussing the Casey Anthony case at length and your discussions can put more valuable insight into this heart wrenching saga....

nj lawyer - March 11, 2009 3:52 PM

You write, "In the Casey Anthony case, I'm not hearing many people asking that question WHY."

To the contrary, I think there has been enormous amounts of speculation about why Ms. Anthony might lie, fail to report an accident, or even murder her baby. Such speculation has included various aspects of Ms. Anthony's environment, the way she was reared, the men she has dated, influence from friends, the effect of being a single mother, the possibility she was unduly influenced to give birth to her child, etc. etc.


You also write, "..that's the most important question. Why. Why did this death happen? Because that's the real answer we all want to know, I think, in any crime. And, because that's where mercy is found."

It may well be that the answer to "why" may be where mercy if found, but how can one expect mercy when there is no explanation about Caylee Anthony's death? Not that Ms. Anthony needs to spill the beans 100% before "mercy" can be expected. But here we have the opposite - 100% lies (about the existence of a sitter, dates, addresses, EVERYTHING). One cannot reach the answer to "Why" (or even a guess) without SOMEONE being up front. Even Cindy, the defendant's mother said at one point (to her own elderly mother) that Cindy and George had specific information about Caylee's disappearance that they couldn't share b/c it could jeopardize Caylee's life. Well, Caylee is now clearly passed. Yet there is no willingness of anyone in the Anthony family to be forthcoming (either to the public or even law enforcement). That is why you do not have mercy in this case (yet). It is actually shocking you would expect to see it.

Barbara - March 11, 2009 6:15 PM

I have been wondering why? I don't post very often on these forums, because those who show emphathy or symphathy for KC and the A's usually wind up being ridiculed and judged for how they feel. I for one want to know all of the facts before I make any kind of judgement. I know there has to be so much more than we are being shown. I feel that the LE and Media have made KC look guilty by spreading alot of stuff that is not true. People form their opinions over these rumors and later find out that it wasn't factual after all. I think that alot more is going to come out of this case than just a judgement. I feel like some laws are going to change and whatever happened to Caylee if we are to find out the real truth, some eyes are going to be opened as to what this world is coming too.

LizzySF - March 11, 2009 10:13 PM

Most people that have followed the Anthony case, myself included, have continuously pondered the "why" question as to why this murder occured. The WHY is fairly clear...it's just the HOW we are not quite sure of. A young and mentally unhealthy girl, disinterested and overwhelmed with the task of motherhood. No certain future or independence within focus. Add one over-bearing and mentally unhealthy mother to Casey, struggling with control over the child (and everything else for that matter), resulting in a climatic collision of the power struggle between them. And one dead child.
Where to find the mercy in this scenario? Mercy for Casey because she has rotten parents? Maybe they had rotten parents too. Despite the struggles we may find ourselves in or how bad our parents were as parents, murder is illegal and a morally reprehensible act. I personally am not for the death penalty. I can find mercy on souls to that extent, but life without parole for killers is appropriate. Victims of bad parenting or not. Prisons are full of poorly parented criminals.

sue - March 12, 2009 7:42 AM

Thank yuou for your post, Sir, very informative..

Why? IMO, because Cindy was trying to reel Casey in, and Casey resented it...Cindy was controlling Caseys social life, restricting her time out, hence the need for a pretend evening job. Check out the texts for the months of May and June and you'll see "why".

admin - March 13, 2009 9:47 AM

To lin, Kathleen, AshleyP, nj lawyer, Barbara, LizzySF, sue:

Thanks for being among the first to comment. You are raising some good issues. In response, I will be publishing more information on filicide in the near future.

- Terry

WalterTN - March 16, 2009 6:28 PM

A lot of people have already surmised in their own mind WHY. Many say it was because she was a party animal that wanted out of being tied down. Many say it was because of her mother. Some feel it was an accidental murder caused by a clash of the two titans. I feel the answer lies in all of the above. Of course it will be for the defense to prove IF she did it. General population consensus though points to a verdict of guilt. But one thing that we must all remember through all of this. Caylee is no longer with us, and in the end, all of us want Justice. That is the bottom line.

Zan - March 16, 2009 6:54 PM

I think before anyone is directed to webslueths they should know that a convicted habitual pedophile was the admin on that board for years. BeaconHell.com has the documents lsted on the blog there. There is some real funny stuff going on at that website and it should be very carefully vetted BEFORE you join, you cannot unjoin.

The reason why is a girl lied about being pregnant, didn't want to have or keep her child and was forced to by a controlling parent. For once in her failed life, a high school dropout, who couldn't keep a job and didn't want to work anyway found the boyfriend of her dreams, Tony Lazzaro. He didn't want to be a father. Add into that Casey's mother had control issues with the parenting of Caylee, there was a big blow out on Father's Day and Casey left she came back home a day later and something happened in that house, Caylee probably wanted to stay home with her bed her toys and her loving grandparents, whatever happened that day ended that child's life. Rather than accept responsibility for what she did, Casey hid the body and made up the world's dumbest lie that was of course found to be a lie by the Sheriffs office right away. She was arrested and through dumb luck or something else the body was found. Her own parents in the interview with the FBI set up a plausible accident scenario of the pool ladder being down and that it was an accidental drowning. If Casey had gone with that, agreed to tell where the body was she would probably be looking at a manslaughter charge, and illegal disposal of a corpse.

Why? She was selfish and spoiled, she never had to face a consequence in her life - her parents bailed her out, and tried with the murder of their own grandchild, it was a perfect storm of bad parenting on all sides. If someone doesn't want to be a mother, don't force them to do so, the one who suffers most is always the child.

dancehappy - March 17, 2009 3:41 PM

Wait……..Let's ponder that entry from her newest attorney. Why is he comparing Casey Anthony to other Mothers convicted of killing their children when she is “absolutely” not guilty of anything except trusting her child with a nanny? Didn't Zanny the nanny kill Caylee?
The only child murderers I would compare Casey to is Susan Smith and Diane Downs…..they too killed their children for the love of a boyfriend who didn't want kids.

americanjustice37 - March 22, 2009 8:01 AM

Is is possible for someone to have Dissociative identity disorder and also commit and act of filicide?

admin - March 23, 2009 4:49 PM

To americanjustice37:

Good question that has experts researching this area. . .

There are many good sources out there - a few of them are listed below. You might also want to look at some of the early work done by Philip Resnick.

- Geoffrey R. McKee, Why Mothers Kill, A Forensic Psychologist's Casebook (2006).
- Margaret G. Spinneli, Maternal Infanticide Associated With Mental Illness, 161 Am. J. Psychiatry (2004).
- Linda Cylc, Classifications and Descriptions of Parents Who Commit Filicide, http://www.publications.villanova.edu/Concept/2005/Filicide.pdf.
- Arlene M. Huysman, A Mother's Tears (1998).

- Terry

Tracey - April 3, 2009 9:18 AM

I had always thought when an attorney is trying to get the death penalty removed or to save the defendants life, that attorney would be required to show mitigating factors as reasons this defendant should be spared. Casey, in my mind, has no mitigating factors. I see absolutely no value in her whatsoever. I have never been for the death penalty, unless, 100% certain, that a person is guilty and you better have an eyewtiness who saw it, the defendant admitting it and everything possible to show they are guilty. If even 99.99 % certainty is all you've got, that's not enough to me. This is a permanent solution and can't be reversed if a mistake occurred. However, in the case of Casey, I honest;y don't see how she could or would EVER add value to society. She being as selfish and narcissistic as she is, I don't see her ever adding anything of value to society. I don't think I could vote for death, even in her case. But I certainly would like her to be always worried up to the final day of conviction that it could be a possibility. She deserves every miserable moment in life she has.

CJ - April 3, 2009 7:16 PM

The only thing the answer to why will do is possibly prevent more senseless deaths in the future but so far we haven't been doing such a great job with this information obtained from other convicted killers. Every week there are more and more babies murdered by the one person who they are supposed to be able trust above all.

In this case how can we be expected to show mercy to the alleged murderer when the murderer refuses to admit she did anything wrong! She tortured her family, she left her baby's body in a ditch for 6 mos triple bagged like so much garbage, with duct tape wrapped around her face. The horrors that these images conjure up beg less for mercy and more for a slow, painful death following a long, painful life behind bars.

Just so you know I am not without mercy for all mothers who kill their precious babies. I don't believe Andrea Yates name should be used in the same breath, the same sentence as the Casey Anthony's out there. I don't want Andrea Yates to spend her life suffering in prison. I want her to be in a hospital getting the psychiatric treatment she so desperately needs. I hope she has forgiven herself for what she did when her mind was so broken she thought the only way to protect her babies from the devil was to send them back to GOD. Andrea has endured the depths of hell, there is nothing we can do to her that would punish her more than she punishes herself.

Casey on the other hand, rented video's with her boyfriend the night LE knows her baby disappeared. The days following, she partied and danced, she slept with her boyfriend and got a tattoo. And she lied, she lied to everyone she encountered. She compounded the lies to her mother with promises that were lies. Since then she has lied and denied and lied some more. No, at this time I have no mercy for Casey Anthony. Maybe if she would say something that will get the image of Caylee with duct tape covering her mouth out of my mind I would feel different. Tell us truthfully she died peacefully in her sleep, tell us she didn't leave this life terrified or tortured.

I'm glad there are people like you to defend Casey Anthony, because you are doing a service I could never bring myself to do. As much as she deserves a fair trial she needs to accept responsibility for her crimes, apologize to her family, to LE, to all the people who searched for Caylee and all the people she hurt. Then she can ask for mercy, I'm sure there are people out there who want to forgive her and those people can show her some mercy, I'm just not there yet. I want Justice for Caylee.

Liz - May 15, 2009 6:13 PM

The WHY is the easiest one. There is a psychology of evil which normal persons can never understand. This is the evil of the serial killer, the child murderer, the one who just kills for the thrill of killing.

Evil is sometimes described as intentionally behaving -- or causing others to act – in ways that demean, dehumanize, harm, destroy, or kill innocent people. In the Anthony case, I believe it to be a generational evil. This is a deep evil which manifests itself in the children. The parents are usually described and/or viewed as having anti-social behavior patterns which increases as it manifests in the child. I believe Casey to be a product of that type of evil.

Both her parents are examples of this evil. The father with an addiction, the narcissistic, controlling mother both contribute to the cover up of all the lies. Evil cannot exist without years and years of lies which have been covered up. The more lies, the deeper the evil. This family is a family of nothing but lies.

Persons like Casey may had never committed any criminal offense prior to the current homicide -- their murders were totally unexpected given their mild manner when with peers and appearance in public of a gentle disposition. Her problem was excessive impulse control that inhibited her expression of any feelings. Persons like this' sexual identity would be feminine or androgynous, and the majority of these killers was considered shy but appeared extroverted. These "Shy Sudden Murderers" killed just as violently as did the habitual criminals, and their victims died just as surely, but it would have been impossible to predict this outcome from any prior knowledge of their personalities that were so different from the more obvious habitual criminals except for a history of family dynamics.

Without prior psychological intervention into these families, there can be no identification until they kill. These type of parents would hide any anti-social behaviors the child exhibited because of their own fear of being exposed. These parents will go to any length to keep their lies, addictions, etc. secret from "outsiders."

Serious narcissistic personality disorders (from the DSM-IV ) include a grandiose sense of self-importance. That's someone who expects to be recognized as superior without any basis in achievement. Another symptom is an enormous need for excessive admiration. People, like Cindy and Casey, (I say both because of their behaviors) with narcissistic personality disorders pimp for compliments, and in extreme conditions, will injure, maim, and sometimes kill, for lack of "respect," or self-gratification. And, the slightest hint of criticism will trigger feelings of rage, shame, or humiliation, which they may release explosively. They cannot have their evil exposed.

Narcissistic sociopaths are extremely selfish, and highly focused on securing the luxurious comforts of life, often to the exclusion of everybody in their lives. They cannot delay their gratifications, or set aside their life long held resentments and hatreds. They have, in their family history, parents who have overindulged them. These parents have over the years reinforced their "resentments." Parents of young, developing, narcissists routinely cover-up their children's mistakes, and go to war for them with their teachers, and others of authority, even when their narcissists-in-the-making are wrong.

M. Scott Peck's "People of the Lie: Toward a Psychology of Evil," Dr. Peck determined when evil is combined with narcissistic psychopaths: "Their narcissism makes the evil dangerous . . . because it deprives them of the restraint that results from empathy [compassion] and respect for others. . . . Narcissism permits them to ignore the humanity of their victims. As well as gives them the motive for murder, so it also renders them insensitive to the act of killing. The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond the lack of empathy; narcissists may not 'see' others at all." This is where I see Casey.

Cindy seems to project her own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings unto others and forces them to behave the way she expects them to (this defense mechanism is known as "projective identification"). This murder was a result of narcissistic rage in Casey at her mother.

I believe in my heart this is the answer to WHY Casey KILLED.

Anna E.D. - October 1, 2009 9:19 PM

Casey Anthony has been asked Why repeatedly. What she has given in response to that question were lies, lies,lies. If she admitted to what she has done then mercy would be appropriate. To continue to lie about this terrible crime compounds it and she deserves the most severe penalty that can be given.

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