Child's death is new soap opera


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The case against Casey Anthony might have all the ingredients of a soap opera, but the trial which reaches its climax in Orlando, Florida next week is playing more like a movie which fills the cinemas every summer blockbuster season.

Hundreds of tourists line up outside the Orange County courthouse for a seat in the gallery to see Anthony, a 25-year-old single mother accused of killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee, in the dock.

Two million Americans are tuning in to gavel-to-gavel coverage of this gripping trial which began at the end of May. Caylee went missing on June 16th 2008. Her body was found, with duct tape stuck to the decomposing flesh of her skull, three months later near her family's home.

Prosecutors want the death penalty and have charged her with first-degree murder. In the weeks after Caylee's death, Anthony, pictured, allegedly told her parents, who she lived with, that Caylee was being looked after by a nanny. Then, according to Facebook photos, she went to nightclubs and parties, in what the prosecution has dubbed a macabre celebration of freedom. Caylee was not reported missing to police for almost a month. Side-plots have boosted the soap-opera nature of proceedings. Casey's father, George, and brother, Lee, have taken DNA tests, which have rebutted rumours that Caylee was the result of an incestuous relationship. George Anthony has been accused of sexually abusing Casey from the age of eight (he denies it). As the trial reaches its final stages, with closing arguments expected this morning, opinion is divided.

Although the majority of observers believe the evidence against Ms Anthony to be compelling, a small but vociferous minority insist that she is the hapless victim of trial by the tabloid media.

OJ Simpson

25 Jan - 3 Oct 1995

Charge: Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman

Verdict: Not guilty

About 142 million people watched the verdict at the trial of former American football star O J Simpson. Many felt the pub-licity prejudiced the case.

Louise Woodward

7 Oct - 10 Nov 1997

Charge: Murder of eight-month old Matthew Eappen, reduced to manslaughter.

Verdict: Guilty

Nearly 1.7 million people in Britain watched the final sentencing of the 19-year-old British au pair on Sky. Woodward was accused of shaking the baby to death while babysitting him in Boston, Massachusetts.

Michael Jackson

28 Feb 2005 - 13 June 2005

Charge: Child molestation

Verdict: Not guilty

The pop star faced trial after the family of Gavin Arvizo, 15, accused him. The judge banned cameras to stop the trial becoming a media circus but E! broadcast daily re-enactments with actors.