Judge says Casey Anthony will serve a few more weeks in prison

Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her toddler in a trial that became a media sensation, is likely to stay in prison for several more weeks after being sentenced Thursday on charges she lied to investigators.

Casey Anthony smiles  before the start of her sentencing hearing in Orlando

Casey Anthony smiles before the start of her sentencing hearing in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her toddler in a trial that became a media sensation, is likely to stay in prison for several more weeks after being sentenced Thursday on charges she lied to investigators.

Anthony, 25, was sentenced Thursday to four years total for the four counts of lying to police, but she has already served nearly three years in jail and will also receive some credit for good behaviour.

Judge Belvin Perry estimated that she would be freed in late July or early August. An exact date was to be determined later in the day after attorneys for both sides decide exactly how for much time she should be credited. The judge also fined her $1,000 on each count.

Her defence attorneys, who had been pressing for Anthony to be released Thursday, argued before sentencing that her convictions should be combined into one, but the judge disagreed.

Anthony was convicted of lying to investigators about working at the Universal Studios theme park, about leaving her daughter with a non-existent nanny named Zanny, about leaving the girl with friends and about receiving a phone call from her.

The verdict in her trial — which generated an outpouring of anger among many Americans who had closely watched the highly publicized case — continued to be the talk of cable and network news after she was acquitted of first-degree murder Tuesday.

Prosecutors contended Anthony, then 22, suffocated 2-year-old Caylee with duct tape because she was interfering with her desire to be with her boyfriend and party with her friends.

Defence attorneys countered that the toddler accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool. They said that when Anthony panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder. They said he put duct tape on the girl’s mouth and then dumped the body in woods about a quarter-mile (half-kilometre) away.

The defence said Anthony’s apparent carefree life hid emotional distress caused by sexual abuse from her father. Her father firmly denied both the coverup and abuse claims. The prosecution called those claims absurd, and said no one makes an accident look like a murder.

When she is released, Anthony could be hard-pressed to piece together some semblance of a normal life. Threats have been made against her, and online she is being vilified. More than 17,000 people “liked” the “I hate Casey Anthony” page on Facebook, which included comments wishing her the same fate that befell little Caylee. Ti McCleod, who lives a few doors from Anthony’s parents, said: “Society is a danger to Casey; she’s not a danger to society.”

“Anthony will always be dogged by the belief that she killed her child,” said Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “She will never lead a normal life.”

Anthony’s attorney, Jose Baez, told ABC before the verdict that he was concerned about his client’s safety when she is freed, given the high emotions surrounding the case.

“I am afraid for her,” he told ABC television.

Jurors declined to talk with reporters immediately after Tuesday’s verdict, and juror Jennifer Ford told ABC television in an interview that the case was a troubling one.

“I did not say she was innocent,” Ford told the network. “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.”

Ford said the fact that Anthony could have faced the death penalty was a consideration.

“If they want to charge and they want me to take someone’s life, they have to prove it. They have to prove it, or else I’m a murderer too.”

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