Jurors under fire from US public over shock Casey Anthony verdict

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The Independent US

As armchair pundits across the United States continued to express astonishment, and in many cases disgust, at the acquittal of Casey Anthony over the 2008 death of her young daughter in Florida, a back-up juror who sat through the testimony and the jury deliberations said the right verdicts had been reached.

Today Judge Belvin Perry, of Orange County courthouse in Orlando, will decide whether to sentence Ms Anthony to additional prison time for the four guilty counts of lying to police in the weeks after her baby vanished. But with the jury acquitting her of murdering her daughter, Caylee, he may release her on time served.

Until Tuesday evening, the 25-year-old was facing the prospect of being found guilty of first-degree murder and possibly ushered to Death Row. She is now on the brink of freedom and is likely to get opportunities to cash in on her celebrity with interviews, book rights or a film.

The trial was catapulted to the top of US daytime ratings in part by Nancy Grace, a shrill former prosecutor turned television anchor on HLN, a channel that belongs to CNN. She unabashedly pushed her view that "tot mum", as she called Ms Anthony, had killed her child. She became apoplectic when the verdicts were read out, suggesting the "devil is dancing tonight".

All 12 of the jurors have declined to speak about the verdicts, but the alternate juror, who sits in on the case but votes only if one of the 12 has to drop out, voiced disappointment at the tidal wave of opprobrium from television commentators and many of the 500-odd spectators who were outside the courthouse on Tuesday.

Just as with the OJ Simpson trial 15 years ago, many Americans are unlikely to let go of their view that Ms Anthony has been allowed to get away with murder. "The prosecution failed to prove their case and there was reasonable doubt," the alternate juror told ABC News. "They didn't show us how Caylee died. They didn't show us a motive. I'm sorry people feel that way. They [the jurors] really listened to this case and kept an open mind."

The two-year-old disappeared in 2008 and her body was found in a swamp near her home six months later. Prosecutors claimed Ms Anthony suffocated the child, left her in the trunk of her car then dumped her. But the evidence was largely circumstantial and nothing was presented to directly link the mother with the death. The defence said Caylee had drowned by accident in a pool and that as the family panicked, her father had tried to help the death look like a murder, by applying duct tape to her mouth.