Casey Anthony: Who’s Laughing Now, "Laughing Guy?"

Casey Anthony: Who's laughing now


I followed the Casey Anthony trial rather closely and I must admit that I sometimes found my support flip-flopping at various times between the prosecution and defense. I pulled for the prosecution when Jeff Ashton spouted scientific mumbo-jumbo as expertly as a chief science officer or CEO of a biotech company. And I nearly applauded while Jose Baez chewed up George Anthony like a hound dog gnawing on a ham bone (Get it? Hound dog…George Anthony…oh, well…).

But it didn’t take long to see the lug nuts begin to fall off the wheels of this car. Nope, not long at all. And when they did Casey Anthony bailed out. And now she’ll soon be free to roam about the country.

Me? Well, I waited and watched for the hard evidence to be introduced. Yep, I was drooling, waiting for the good stuff. You know, stuff like DNA, fingerprints, a witness, something written by the defendant, trace evidence, impression evidence, a statement, a fingernail, bloodstains…well, you get the picture. The stuff that would nail a baby-killer to the wall. Heck, even circumstantial cases like the Scott Peterson case have a little evidence show up in court now and then. But not this case. Nope, the proof was just not there. Not even close.

Oh, there was there was plenty of stuff, just not good, solid evidence. And what a shame, because somewhere, lost in all the back-biting, name-calling, running around, lying, cheating, stealing, grandstanding and showboating, was a tiny, beautiful, little girl who died. And rarely did anyone in this case seem to think about her. No, it was all about ME, ME, ME.

Actually, this car started its journey with only three wheels in place, because the police left the right rear tire in the garage when the first-responding deputy failed to listen to Roy Kronk when he first reported his finding of the skull. Sure, we all know that deputies wear shiny, brown shoes and the sheriff will definitely fuss if those shoes are dirty, but to not walk into the woods when you KNOW you’re just a few blocks from the “Anthony House…” Yeah, that Anthony house… There’s more, but we’ll get to that later.

Then comes the prosecution’s case. Jeff Ashton was definitely the wizard behind the curtain for most of the trial. His science was spot on and he’d done his homework. He’d studied the evidence (what little he had) and he was ready for court. Hell, he was ready to take on the world. BUT…no matter how well-prepared and how knowledgeable Jeff Ashton was at the time of trial, he just may have blown the entire case in a matter of seconds by doing something that more than likely angered the jury. Sure, juries are supposed to render a verdict based on facts, but sometimes it happens…an attorney does something so despicable that those twelve human beings switch sides in mid stream. And that just may have happened in this case.

You see, while Jose Baez was delivering a pretty powerful and compelling closing argument, prosecutor Jeff Ashton was busy laughing like a teenage boy who’d just passed gas in a room full of his friends. And Jose Baez, obviously tired of Ashton’s childish behavior, pointed him out in open court by calling him, “This laughing guy right here.”

Juries don’t miss that sort of thing, especially when a child has been killed and her mother is on trial for the murder. And, the sitting jury is in the position of sending the defendant to the execution chamber. Nope, that’s not exactly a laughing matter. So, shame on Mr. Ashton for doing so.

It’s certainly easy to play Monday morning quarterback, saying what the police and prosecution should and shouldn’t have done to win this case. And there are many theories floating around about what went wrong (other than the “laughing man” theory), but to be fair to the police officers who spent countless hours collecting evidence, etc., we won’t go there. In fact, we weren’t there so we CAN”T go there.

What I will say is this…I like to work a case in a specific style. I like to list all my suspects and then begin the process of eliminating everyone who could not possibly be the killer. Then, as the innocent people begin to dwindle away you’re only left with one person…The Murderer.


Sometimes, though, tunnelvision rears its ugly head and investigators focus all their attention on what they think is the obvious solution to a particular case.

Remember, what looks like a duck may not be a duck, even if it’s quacking. Detectives should ALWAYS take a moment to look at the big picture.

After all, sometimes there’s an entire family of ducks waiting to cross the road.

– In case you’re wondering, I did call this one early on. I told my wife prior to closing arguments that Casey would be found not guilty on all counts with the exception of lying to police. Laughing Guy cemented my prediction during the closing arguments.

* By the way, word is out that Prosecutor Jeff Ashton will be retiring this Friday. Coincidence?

Casey Anthony cries after receiving the news that she’s been found not guilty of murdering her daughter, Caylee.

Caylee Anthony

  1. cb
    cb says:

    i couldn’t agee more. what prosecutor would laugh during a defense closing argument. i was leaning prosecution until this happened. if anyone was in contempt it was jeff. what a shame

  2. Pat Gulley
    Pat Gulley says:

    Boy am I late to this. Well, the only jurer who spoke up had it right, though insufficiently. Casee may have been legally not gulilty of murder, but she was not innocent of charges either.
    I wish they had said more about the 30 days of not reporting the child missing so that the child endangerment charge might have been enforced.

  3. Rachel Harger
    Rachel Harger says:

    I think Beth has an interesting theory. I also know someone who is a victim of incest. It’s so horrible that no one wants to believe it. So I’m not surprised that most people think it’s a big lie. Maybe it is, but it would explain a lot of immoral behavior. Victims of incest can behave incredibly badly because they are so messed up emotionally. It would also explain why the family is covering for each other. They circled the wagons to keep a secret from seeing the light of day. Maybe not incest, but something.

    I agree that cameras in the courtroom, going for the death penalty, and CSI television all played important roles here. Real murder cases are never as neat and tidy as they are portrayed on TV. One of the jurors was interviewed on ABC tonight. She said she needed rock solid evidence to sentence someone to death. I totally agree. I would have trouble sentencing Charles Manson to death without a smoking gun.

  4. Emily
    Emily says:

    Who knows what really happened? It seems like everyone in the family was lying about something. What can one take away from this? Be good to your loved ones. Evil takes many shapes and forms. People are cruel to children. Do you speak up or do you turn and look the other way? A girl was teased so badly that she took her own life. Who helped her? Who intervened? Someone mentioned Casey’s lovely eyes and hair but when women grow up, other women hate them for having lovely eyes and hair, they forget the little girl that that woman used to be. And people like witch hunts and people have been convicted based on rumours and gossip. To kill a Mocking bird. Maybe Casey is guilty. It sounded like she was guilty or maybe she just got deeper and deeper into a a web of lies. What can people do now? Be good to your kids and don’t give into pettiness and cruelty.

  5. Andi Marquette
    Andi Marquette says:

    Thanks for the post. I didn’t catch closing arguments, but what you describe here probably didn’t help the prosecution’s case much. I had a feeling the jury wouldn’t convict on the murder or child abuse/endangerment charges, because what I saw of the evidence that was presented didn’t seem strong enough to do that. And, as others here have noted, one of the most tragic things about this whole thing is that Caylee Anthony was superseded by a bunch of superegos. And that is so very, very sad.

  6. Wil A. Emerson
    Wil A. Emerson says:

    I followed this case closely and whether I think she killed her daughter or not, the fact remains that this mother contributed in the demise of this innocent child. But what comes out of this judicial event, in my view, is what our system of justice is all about. It has nothing to do with the victim/victims. It is about winning. Truth is not the goal. Justice is not the goal. The defense fabricates stories to confuse the jury, the prosecutor is selective in presenting what evidence they use against the accused. If truth were the goal, every question should be asked, every lead followed. All dots connected. But somewhere in this balance for justice, it was decided the jury might be tainted by questions/issues that weren’t pertinent to the accused crime. Sexual abuse, infidelity, lies, motives…a child is dead. The defense won, the prosecutor lost. Fact or Fiction. Who cares what really happened to an innocent child? Shouldn’t the books stay open…the question answered?

  7. Beth Anderson
    Beth Anderson says:

    I was expecting to see the jury to at least give it a week of deliberation and go through all of the evidence one more time. I thought they were supposed to do that, and had they acted more responsibly, in my opinion, the outcome might have been different.

    The police, at the very beginning, did not look for that body where the meter reader said he saw something. And they glossed that over very swiftly after the fact. But the fact remains, had they done their jobs and not worried so much about their shoes getting muddy, there might have been dna on the tape and a lot of other things they didn’t have because of the long, long wait before they finally went to that location to find her.

    Of course they couldn’t convict Casether of a Murder One charge just because she was a liar, and a very good one at that. Personally, I think she probably was sexually molested by her father. I’ve known two people who were, and they were both huge liars, masters of deception, because of that.

    I also believe she was choroforming Caylee to get her to go to sleep so she could party and that was what got out of hand. So, because she cannot tell the truth about anything, we got cover up and denial by the whole family.

    That doesn’t excuse her for what she did. It might be the reason, but it’s not an excuse. And now we have someone running around loose who knows exactly what happened to Caylee. Maybe more than one if her parents were involved in the coverup. But the fact remains, that child was in the custody of her mother when whatever happened, happened. I’m bubbling with fury that the jury could let her off completely and she now never, ever has to tell anyone what really happened.

    A real travesty of justice for Caylee is what happened, and it can never be undone.

  8. Gerrie Ferris Finger
    Gerrie Ferris Finger says:

    I think the jury was looking for NO doubt, which is never the case unless the cops break in on the killer in the act, which happens when TV CSI scientists rush in just in time to save the last victim. TV has changed our perception. From what I saw, both attorneys exhibited bad behavior in this trial by putting their egos on display. People have been executed with less evidence, usually those who don’t live in nice homes and go to hairdressers. IMO, the evidence was there to convict of murder, most of America saw it, but the jury wasn’t looking for it.

  9. Deborah Bundy
    Deborah Bundy says:

    Thank you for the police perspective. What bothers me the most is that the child’s life(both before and after death) was lost in mayhem. We must remember that.

  10. Wally Lind
    Wally Lind says:

    I did not predict the verdict. I thought the media pushing so hard for her conviction would do her in. Apparently they did a good job of keeping the jury from being contaminated by the media. I thought the cause of death was an extremely weak element of the case, as was the motive. However the legal talking heads seemed pretty sure she was toast, although they seem to have short memories about their predictions. I really was surprised that they let her off on the death completely. But it’s plain to me (after the fact) that they didn’t have a case for manslaughter or child neglect. I really don’t respect Geraldo much, but he had this one right.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Pat – I believe Casey was declared indigent, and we all know what that means…the state paid for the defense.

    – I’m not a fan of cameras in any courtroom. The players never act the same as they would without the attention. Besides, the cameras turn killers into media stars.

  12. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Great post, Lee. I saw you note last ngiht and couldn’t wait to get home to see what you had to say.

    I wanted justice for that beautiful little girl and didn’t get it. If there’s a hell that family belongs there. At least one of them knows what happened to that poor child.

    Sad that the lying to police will probably be time served.

    My one question now is who paid for the defense? Was that ever mentioned?

  13. Julie D.
    Julie D. says:

    AS with OJ, the prosecution was compelled to prove their case, and they failed–miserably. With OJ, we had a judge who let both sides run amok while being charmed into stupidity by the defense attornies, and in this case it appears, laughing man or no, the prosecution didn’t have their ducks in a row (the quacking ones at least). And as many pointed out, there is that beautiful child, gone forever. And no justice done for her. That is the real tragedy here. No upside anywhere that I can see.

    Great insight, Lee.

  14. Deni Dietz
    Deni Dietz says:

    Cameras or no cameras, the prosecution’s case was flawed. Biggest mistake: They never should have gone for 1st degree murder. You don’t give someone the death penalty for lying, and I’m convinced the State might have been able to convict had they focused on a lesser charge. I didn’t buy the prosecution’s sorry excuse for a motive, and for *1st degree* I want a smoking gun! Great blog, Lee.

  15. Brenda Coxe
    Brenda Coxe says:

    This whole trial was a joke from what I can see. Just the fact that Casey failed to report Caylee missing for a month says something. If she wasn’t guilty of anything, why would she not report her 2 year old child missing immediately? What I really can’t understand is why her parents lied to protect her–that was their grandchild, their tiny, innocent grandchild! If one of my daughters did that to any of their children you can bet your sweet life I’d help them go up the river without a freaking paddle!

  16. thelma straw
    thelma straw says:

    Thanks for your astute report, Lee. I had not watched this til the weekend when I just happened to turn it on. But the little face of that adorable child had haunted me for a long time. It WAS about her, not all the sick egos. This is where one hopes there really is a heaven where innocents can be free for eternity…

  17. Margaret Koch
    Margaret Koch says:

    Nancy Grace, and the other media personalities who blew this search for a killer into a melange of fact, opinion, hyperbole, speculation, gossip, grandstanding (and about two dozen other bad, bad ways to travel toward a conclusion) bear some of the responsibility for this confused outcome. I know, first amendment entitlement is a big cover-all, but how does a jury made up of average people insulate themselves from the hype?

    A child dies, either at the impatient hand of a selfish mother, or as a result of neglect, or as a result of spur-of-the-moment or calculated violence…by someone. Then the cover-up begins.
    Then the circus begins. I can’t be too hard on the jury. I can’t sort it out either.

  18. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    No way I’d have allowed any member of the Anthony family in the courtroom except during their testimony. Actually, no witness should be allowed inside the courtroom until it’s their turn on the stand. That’s how Cindy Anthony was able to tailor her testimony to meet the needs of the defense. And, did you notice that no matter what was said, and no matter how damning the words, the Anthony family still sat together like nothing was wrong. OF COURSE NOT! They said what they had to say to get Casey off the hook…

    Note-taking… Probably not trial notes. Instead, research for a forthcoming book.

  19. David Spence
    David Spence says:

    Completely agree with Rob. And Pat, great point about Cindy. It’s absurd to allow a critical witness to sit in the courtroom literally taking notes.

  20. GunDiva
    GunDiva says:

    I know the jury did their job – no evidence, they can’t sentence her to death. I get that. What I don’t get is how anyone could do that to a beautiful little girl. How could a mother not report her child missing for 31 days?! Unless, of course, she knew exactly where the child was.

    As horrific as Caylee’s death is, at least she’s free from those monsters that were her family.

  21. Maggie Toussaint
    Maggie Toussaint says:


    I’m with you, the evidence wasn’t there. Funny thing is, everyone has an opinion about this case, despite the lack of evidence. I’m sorry there was no justice for the little girl.


  22. Pat Brown
    Pat Brown says:

    To me this smacked of the OJ Simpson stupidity. The trial was a circus and a farce from day one. Rob was right, no cameras should be allowed in the courtroom of a capital trial is right. They should be banned. The lawyers play to them, hell, so do the judges. I think ‘the public’s right to know’ is hogwash. They can still read all about, but a video turns it into a reality show where the stakes are way too high.

    I still can’t understand why the mother was allowed to sit in the courtroom listening to other people testify. Isn’t the reason for that the very thing that happened here — she got a good look at what the lawyers and other witnesses were doing.

  23. Michele Drier
    Michele Drier says:

    I spent years covering and assigning coverage for the crime (cops and courts) beat on daily newspapers, and the “knowing” who did it (reporters ALWAYS have a preferred suspect) is very different from the proving who did it. There’s a lot going on in this family, but the saddest part is that the emphasis has shifted away from a darling child.

  24. Rick Bylina
    Rick Bylina says:

    I agree with Rob. The jury went with the “unreasonable doubt” for reasons only they know. Know this:

    1. Her book, “If I Had Killed My Child, This Is How I Would Have Done It” will be on the bookshelves for Christmas.

    2. Like OJ’s case, the murder will never be solved in a criminal trial, because the murderer lives amongst us.

  25. Trudy B
    Trudy B says:

    Lee’s right. It seems as though everyone involved forgot the most important part – the baby girl. Wasn’t she beautiful? Those eyes. Those curls. That smile. What must that little one have been thinking as mommy (or whomever) did those things to her? Chloroform? Duct tape? I just don’t understand how an adult can do things like that to an innocent child and still sleep at night. Or, lie to help protect the adult responsible for this. Who was protecting Caylee?

  26. Jenny Milchman
    Jenny Milchman says:

    I wish that justice in our justice system didn’t sometimes call for handing down true injustice–but I can see how you’re right and sometimes it does.

  27. Rob Walker
    Rob Walker says:

    You make a compelling argument that 12 people can discount everything due to a man’s laughing in open court. Stupid human nature, do a 180 due to something this silly. But Lee – when did Reasonable Doubt become the end all in every capital case with cameras in the room? It is obvious to me that this jury went for UnReasonable Doubt….that the jury was being UNREASONABLE as you point out – return a not guilty verdict because the prosecutor shows a bad side while the defendant is considered too middle America to have intentionally killed her own child? The jailhouse tapes alone should have convicted this woman. Mark my word, the jurors will all find their 15 minutes of fame. California and Florida ought to figure it out – no cameras in the courtroom. It effects the brains of the jurors.

    Rob Walker

  28. kylie brant
    kylie brant says:

    You nailed it, Lee, spot on. I predicted the verdict as well because there just was no evidence. Prosecution focused on Casee and then tried to build a case to support their conjecture. They overplayed their hand as far as the charges, and that’s why she’s walking.

    As far as the child endangerment charge, that was supposed to go hand in hand with the murder charge. Prosecution couldn’t and didn’t spend time saying well if she did drown then that constituted endangerment. They put all their eggs into the homicide basket and fell far short of proving it.

    A shame, since the Anthonys are definitely guilty of something.

  29. SZ
    SZ says:

    Thank you for the post. All murder aside, how did she get not guilty for child endangerment ? She did not report the child missing straight away, and was found guilty about lying about the nanny … So that is confusing to me at this point.