Casey Anthony may have escaped the death penalty and life in prison, but she no doubt will receive a sentence perhaps even worse: life of scorn. There aren't many people in America who believe Anthony isn't responsible for the brutal death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. She simply benefited by the greatest legal system in the world. She may have gotten away with murder in a court of law, but she won't escape the court of public opinion.
Anthony is the new O.J. Simpson. She's the demonic object of our hatred and our frustration with our criminal justice system. It seems that at least once every decade we stand stunned, outraged and nauseated as the verdict is read in an audience-gripping, sensational murder trial as the killer walks free. But that's where the similarities end. In the 1995 O.J. trial, the prosecution not only had bodies -- O.J's ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman -- but clear evidence that they were murdered. There was also motive: O.J.'s tumultuous, violence-marred relationship with Nicole. And there was DNA evidence. Blood everywhere. O.J's, hers, Goldman's. At her place, his house, his car, and on a glove found at his residence. But that wasn't enough. The jury in this case could've had actual videotape of Simpson committing the murders and they likely would have acquitted him still.
In the Anthony case the prosecution had nothing. Nothing but reams of circumstantial evidence. Sure, if you stepped away from it all and looked at it in its totality with a rational, intelligent, common sense perspective, she's as guilty as sin. What loving mother fails to report her toddler missing for 31 days, then lies about it, creates imaginary people whom she blames the death on and, in the process, gets a "Bella Vita" ("Beautiful Life") tattoo and is out partying? We have every reason to believe she killed Caylee and we have every reason to hate her. But unfortunately, the prosecution did not have a motive, witnesses or a cause of death, and you can't convict someone of murder if you can't prove a murder took place. The burden of proof rested solely on the prosecution, and it simply could not prove Anthony's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. No matter how upsetting and painful, no matter how infuriating and sickening the verdict, the system worked. In America, we don't send people to jail because we don't like them or because we're emotional and angry.
But time will not be kind to Casey Anthony. Like O.J. Simpson, she'll face constant animosity, ostracizing and public ridicule. She'll find everyday tasks like grocery shopping filled with vitriol. She'll find it hard to get a job. She'll probably never have a normal, healthy relationship. Perhaps she'll sell a book and do some interviews and make a few bucks, but she'll spend it just as quickly and probably end up destitute. She'll party hard and crash harder. And just like her partner in criminal history, Casey may ultimately end up in jail for some other heinous, despicable act. To be sure, Casey Anthony is not someone who's going to contribute to society in any meaningful way.
Follow Andy Ostroy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndyOstroy