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Jeff Ashton, Retired Prosecutor, Aims At Casey Anthony's Attorneys In Book

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First Posted: 11/15/11 08:14 AM ET Updated: 11/16/11 08:15 AM ET

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A retired prosecutor from the Casey Anthony murder trial calls her lead attorney "smarmy" in a new book and says he didn't think a jury would ever agree to the death penalty for the Florida mother, who was ultimately acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

Jeff Ashton writes in Tuesday's "Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony" that he would have been happier if the prosecution team had left the death penalty off the table. He also confirmed that toward the end of the trial, Anthony's attorneys tried to persuade the 25-year-old to accept a plea deal but she refused to listen.

"Personally, I think I would have been happier if the death penalty had not been reintroduced into the case, even though I think on some level I think Casey may have deserved it," Ashton said in the 324-page book. "Simply put, I just didn't think the jury would go there."

As it turns out, Anthony refusal to accept a deal paid off. Jurors in July acquitted her in the killing of her daughter, Caylee, and she was released from prison, though she is in hiding somewhere in Florida, serving probation for an unrelated check fraud case.

CHECK OUT PHOTOS FROM THE CONTROVERSIAL TRIAL (story continues below):

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  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Casey Anthony goes over paperwork during a break on the final day of arguments in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Assist. State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick presents the final portion of rebuttal at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 5, 2011

    Casey Anthony stands for the arrival of the jury at the start of the second day of jury deliberations in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, July 5, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Spectators in the courtroom listen to the rebuttal presented by Assist. State Attorney Jeff Ashton on the final day of arguments in the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton gives the final rebuttal in the Casey Anthony murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Judge Belvin Perry listens as Assist. State Attorney Jeff Ashton present rebuttal on the last day of arguments in the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Casey Anthony with her attorney Dorothy Clay Sims on the last day of arguments in Anthony's murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 4, 2011

    Cindy Anthony, wearing bracelets in tribute to her granddaughter Caylee Anthony, listens during the final day of arguments in the trial of her daughter Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 3, 2011

    Defense attorney Cheney Mason presents a burden of proof chart during closing arguments of the Casey Anthony murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 3, 2011

    Jose Baez points and yells in the direction of the prosecution table during his closing arguments in the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011. Judge Belvin Perry called a sidebar during the arguments to deal with the outburst. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted on the charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 3, 2011

    George Anthony listens to closing arguments in the murder trial of his daughter, Casey, in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday, July 3, 2011. Casey Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 3, 2011

    Casey Anthony reacts while listening to the state's closing arguments in her murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty, if convicted.

  • Casey Anthony Trial July 3, 2011

    Assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton presents closing arguments for the state in the murder trial of Casey Anthony in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011. Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 30, 2011

    Casey Anthony gestures during her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, has plead not guilty in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 30, 2011

    Spectator Matthew Bartlett is taken away by sheriff deputies on a contempt charge for his obscene gesture toward assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton during Casey Anthony's murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Casey Anthony, 25, has plead not guilty in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 30, 2011

    Lee Anthony testifies during the murder trial of his sister Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse on June 30, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. Anthony's defense attorneys argued that she didn't kill her two-year-old daughter Caylee, but that she accidentally drowned.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 30, 2011

    Krystal Holloway, also known as River Cruz, reacts when questioned about transcripts from her police statements during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Holloway claims to have had an affair with George Anthony, Casey's father.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 29, 2011

    George Anthony reacts during his testimony in the murder trial of his daughter, Casey, in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. Casey Anthony has plead not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 28, 2011

    Casey Anthony sits in court at her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday, June 28.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 28, 2011

    Lee Anthony, right, returns to his seat next to his mother Cindy Anthony after he testified in the murder trial of sister Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday, June 28.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 28, 2011

    An aerial photo showing the location where Caylee Anthony's remains were found is projected on a courtroom monitor in the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday, June 28.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 28, 2011

    Roy Kronk, a meter reader for Orange County, testifies during the Casey Anthony murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 28, 2011

    Roy Kronk, the meter reader who found Caylee Anthony's remains, testifies in the murder trial of Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday, June 28.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 27, 2011

    Defense attorney Jose Baez, left and Assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton, center, look over evidence with witness Dr. Kenneth Furton, a forensic chemist, during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, June 27, 2011. Anthony, 25, is charged with the murder of her 2-year old daughter in 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 27, 2011

    Casey Anthony, left, listens to her attorney Anne Finnell before the start of court in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, June 27, 2011. Anthony, 25, is charged with the murder of her 2-year old daughter in 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 27, 2011

    Jason Forgey, a canine handler for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, testifies during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Monday, June 27, 2011. Anthony, 25, is charged with the murder of her 2-year old daughter in 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 27, 2011

    An image projected on a courtroom monitor shows a portion of a Powerpoint presentation entered into evidence at the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Monday, June 27, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 23, 2011

    Cindy Anthony testifies during her daughter Casey Anthony's murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Casey Anthony is charged with killing her daughter, Caylee in 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 23, 2011

    Casey Anthony sits at the defense table during a recess during her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday, June 23, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 23, 2011

    Evidence is lined up in front of Dr. Barry Logan, an analytic chemist, as he waits to testify on day 26 of Casey Anthony's murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Anthony is charged with killing her daughter, Caylee.

  • Casey Anthony Trial Photos

    An image projected on a courtroom monitor shows a photograph entered into evidence during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 23, 2011

    Judge Belvin Perry on day 26 of Casey Anthony's 1st-degree murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial Photos

    A picture of computer reports from the Anthony desktop computer is shown on a courtroom monitor on day 26 of Casey Anthony's first degree murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008. (AP Photo/Red Huber, Pool)

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 22, 2011

    Casey Anthony talks with her attorney Jose Baez, left, during a recess in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 22, 2011

    Cindy Anthony listens in court during the trial of her daughter Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial Photos

    An image projected on a courtroom monitor shows a photo entered into evidence in the trial of Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 22, 2011

    Dr. Michael Sigman testifies about air samples during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 22, 2011

    Maureen Bottrell, a forensic geologist for the FBI, testifies in the trial of Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 20, 2011

    Judge Belvin Perry, center, holds a sidebar conference with attorneys in the Casey Anthony murder trail in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, June 20, 2011. An infuriated Perry warned the Anthony defense and prosecution today that he is getting fed up with games being played during the course of the trial. Court was recessed early without explanation.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 20, 2011

    Assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton listens to Judge Belvin Perry's directions during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Monday, June 20, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 20, 2011

    Defense attorney Jose Baez, second from right, and his client Casey Anthony listen to assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton talk to Judge Belvin Perry, not pictured, before the start of court at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Monday, June 20, 2011. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 20, 2011

    Casey Anthony enters the courtroom for the 22nd day of her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, Monday, June 20, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial

    During forensic expert Dr. Spitz's testimony, Casey Anthony turns her head away when photos of the skull of her daughter, Caylee Marie, were shown at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, June 18, 2011. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 18, 2011

    Forensic expert Dr. Werner Spitz testifies in the trial of Casey Anthony, talking about autopsy results of the remains of Caylee Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, June 18, 2011. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 18, 2011

    Chief Judge Belvin Perry expresses deep frustration at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, June 18, 2011, that defense attorney Jose Baez attempted to elicit critical testimony from William Rodriguez, testimony that had not been disclosed to the prosecution earlier. Perry may end up punishing Baez with a contempt finding, but he reserved ruling on that matter. Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 18, 2011

    Casey Anthony, right, consoles her attorney Jose Baez after Chief Judge Belvin Perry expressed deep frustration that defense attorney Jose Baez attempted to elicit critical testimony from William Rodriguez, testimony that had not been disclosed to the prosecution earlier. Perry may end up punishing Baez with a contempt finding, but he reserved ruling on that matter. at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, June 18, 2011.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 17, 2011

    Casey Anthony is shown at the defense table before the start of court in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, Friday, June 17, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 17, 2011

    Dr. Tim Huntington, forensic entomologist, testifies during the murder trial of Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse, Friday, June 17, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 17, 2011

    An evidence photo showing trash found in the trunk of a car is held by an attorney during the Casey Anthony murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, Friday, June 17, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 17, 2011

    George Anthony listens to testimony during the murder trial of his daughter Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse, Friday, June 17, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008.

  • Casey Anthony Trial June 16, 2011

    Casey Anthony, with her attorney Cheney Mason, during day 20 of her first-degree murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Florida, Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Ashton's book is the first account written by one of the key players in the trial that captured the attention of the nation last summer. He retired soon after the trial ended.

In it, he takes direct aim at Anthony's defense attorneys, specifically Jose Baez, whom he says he genuinely dislikes. He said Baez was careless with the facts, unmindful of deadlines and encouraged Anthony to be uncooperative with detectives searching for her daughter.

"There is an unearned air of arrogance about the man that is incredibly frustrating to witness," Ashton writes. "The word I used in describing Jose is smarmy: somebody who is slick, underhanded and doesn't shoot straight."

Baez said in a statement that Ashton's characterizations were false.

"Having read several of the comments Mr. Ashton makes in his new book, I am both surprised and somewhat disappointed he has chosen to attack me on a personal level," Baez said. "Without going into specific detail, I will say only that many of his accusations are absolutely false."

Ashton also displays an unflattering view of the jurors. He wrote they seemed to give a lot of thought and discussion to which movies they wanted to watch or which restaurants to go to while they were sequestered. Yet no juror asked a single question about the evidence during deliberation.

"From the moment our jury had been fielded ... we'd had concerns over their apparent absence of strong opinions as well as over the amount of effort they seemed willing to expend on this," Ashton writes. "In retrospect, I think those concerns were justified."

Three jurors gave television interviews immediately after the verdict, but they have since refused to talk to reporters about the case.

Ashton said people who disagreed with the acquittal and still think Anthony was guilty should leave her alone and ignore her, in hopes she'll fade from the public memory.

"My advice to people who are angry about this is to ignore Casey, and I hope that's what they do," he said on NCB's "Today" show Tuesday.

"I hope that someday, and I know this probably won't happen, the name Casey Anthony will invoke a `who's that?'"

The book, for the first time, also discloses the results of two psychological evaluations taken of Anthony.

Two defense psychologists who did the evaluations never testified. But Anthony told the psychologists that she was sexually abused by her father, Ashton wrote.

As part of their defense, Anthony's attorneys said Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool, and that her father, a former police officer, helped cover it up. Anthony's partying and shopping during the month before her daughter was reported missing was caused in part by her father's sexual abuse, according to the defense theory. Her father, George Anthony, repeatedly denied those claims in court and afterward.

One psychologist expressed apprehension about his evaluation being used to support that defense theory, Ashton writes, especially since Anthony had scored in a normal range on a test designed to discover mental disorders. The other psychologist gave Anthony a battery of tests to diagnose stress from trauma such as sexual molestation. The tests didn't support the theory that she had been molested, Ashton writes.

A few weeks before trial, prosecutors met with George Anthony, and his wife, Cindy, to give them a heads-up about the molestation accusations that the defense planned to use at trial.

"George looked like he had been crying, like someone had just killed Caylee all over again," Ashton writes. "He was just devastated."

More than six months after she disappeared, a meter reader found Caylee's remains in a swampy, wooded area near where she lived with her mother and grandparents. Ashton said in the book that law enforcement and volunteers never examined that area until Roy Kronk reported seeing the remains there in December 2008.

"In the end, Murphy's Law prevailed: everyone assumed that someone else had searched there, but in fact no one actually had," Ashton writes. "Everyone, including law enforcement, assumed that the most obvious place had to have been combed and given the all clear - which just proves the adage about what happens when you assume. Everybody ends up looking like and ass and a nation spent an extra four months searching around the country for a lost little girl who was a quarter mile from home."

A spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the lead agency investigating Caylee's disappearance and death, said Monday that pinpointing a place to search for the toddler was challenging.

"Mr. Ashton, as part of the prosecution team, was well aware of the difficulties in establishing a starting point," Capt. Angelo Nieves said. "Casey Anthony told numerous lies to law enforcement throughout the investigation concerning her daughter's whereabouts."

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