Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

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Normal Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:16 am

In the final phase of a death-penalty case, jurors must rely on recollection of evidence, veracity of court testimony and, ultimately, instructions given to them by the judge.

If Casey Anthony's murder case gets to that point, her jury will consider language such as "cold, calculated or premeditated" when deciding whether she should live or die.

Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry recently issued a series of orders denying Anthony's defense team motions that challenged aspects of Florida's death-penalty process. In doing this, Perry allowed for the prosecution to use several "aggravating circumstances" during her trial's so-called penalty phase, should Anthony be convicted.

Such aggravators — asking jurors to consider whether a murder, for instance, was committed in a "heinous, atrocious, or cruel" way — must get weighed against so-called "mitigating circumstances," meant to offer explanations for why someone kills.
Perry's rulings did not come as a surprise, nor did they get as much media attention as other recent case developments, but they could have significant ramifications later.

'Hybrid' system

In Florida death-penalty cases, when there is a conviction, the jury recommends a sentence to the judge — either death or life in prison — but judges can decide against a jury's recommendation.

Although 35 states allow the death penalty, Florida is one of only three states that allow judges to decide against a jury, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. The others are Alabama and Delaware.

Florida's "hybrid" system has been "an area of controversy," says Richard Dieter, the Death Penalty Information Center's executive director.

"I don't think the average person realizes Florida is that different," Dieter said. "In all of those [other] states, the judge can't state, 'I'm going to impose death anyhow [despite the jury's sentence].' "

In 30 states, including others with large death-row populations such as Texas and California, the jury must vote unanimously to sentence someone to death. In those states, an 11-1 vote for death means a mandatory life sentence, whether the judge agrees or not.

Not so in Florida. An 11-1 vote for death here would be a strong show of support for a death sentence — and although judges would probably be inclined to rule that way, experts and high-court rulings say they are not required to.

'They don't know'

Many criminal-defense attorneys argue, predictably, that Anthony's case does not qualify as a death case.

"This case falls far from being a death case," said Jose Baez, who represents Anthony, accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie. "They don't know how she [Caylee] died. They don't know when. They don't know why. Before you take someone's life, you should have all the answers."

Terry Lenamon once worked for Anthony's defense team and is a veteran of at least eight death-penalty cases and 20 other first-degree-murder cases. He agrees Anthony shouldn't be facing a potential death sentence. Rather, he said, the defense should have reached a plea agreement earlier in the case.

Recent court documents submitted by the defense suggest that very early on, Anthony was offered a 10-year prison sentence in exchange for telling authorities where Caylee's remains were located. True or not, no deal ever emerged. Baez would not discuss the issue.

Now, Lenamon insists, "This is never going to reach death. It's just not going to happen," despite the politics, personalities and media attention surrounding the case.

The prosecution, however, has maintained since soon after Caylee's remains were found near her family home in late 2008 that "sufficient aggravating circumstances exist to justify the imposition of the Death Penalty" if Anthony is found guilty, according to court documents.
In Florida and elsewhere, jurors in death-penalty cases are "death-qualified," which means they must be willing to vote for a death sentence in order to sit on the jury. Likewise, they must be willing to vote for a life sentence without parole, if they determine the mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravators.

This means people opposed to capital punishment are automatically excluded from death-case juries. Mitigation expert Brooke Butler says these rules generate more conviction-prone and more death-penalty-prone juries.

Still, efforts continue to ensure fairness in the system.

After an American Bar Association report found jurors in death cases were confused about their role in sentencing, the Florida Supreme Court late last year amended jury instructions to include the words "you are neither compelled nor required to recommend a death sentence" even when aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating factors.
Butler, a psychologist who works with the 12th Judicial Circuit Public Defender's Office and has conducted extensive research on juror behavior, concludes death-qualified juries tend to be more white, male and punitive.

She suspects some prosecutors have pursued the death penalty in certain cases not because the defendants were deserving but because prosecutors benefit from more conviction-prone juries.

Prepare for 'worst'

The time for arguing whether Anthony's case merits death-penalty consideration is over.

Experts say her attorneys now should focus on preparing a strong defense for the murder trial and the penalty phase — should the prosecution win a conviction.

As Lenamon put it, "You need to prepare for the worst."

Experts say the defense usually requires two "death-certified" attorneys working in concert along with a mitigation investigator, drilling down into every aspect of the defendant's personal life and psyche before the crime occurred.

People like Butler can spend a year investigating a defendant's life, pulling records, interviewing friends, teachers and neighbors, revealing any instance of abuse. A client's mental health is generally a significant part.

"We present a person's life story in a narrative style for jurors," Butler said. "We show how they got to this point in time. Mitigation is an explanation, not an excuse."

Prosecutors, meanwhile, prepare their own strategies to prove the aggravators. In this case, they plan to argue the child's slaying was "heinous, atrocious or cruel" and that the victim was "particularly vulnerable" because Casey Anthony was in a "position of familiar or custodial authority over the victim."

Another aggravator offered in this case should not be so hard to prove, if Anthony is convicted: The victim was under age 12.

The months of preparation are designed to lead up to the trial and potential penalty phase. In Florida, the jury's advisory sentences in death cases must carry "great weight" with the judge.

Some say the hybrid system divides responsibility for a life or death decision between 12 community members and the judge. Jurors may reason that their finding is only a recommendation, and judges can fall back on the wisdom of a jury's advisory sentence to avoid an override.

"It's almost like a game of moral hot potato," Butler said.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-casey-anthony-death-penalty-20100815,0,3151611.story?page=2
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Normal Re: Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by artgal16 on Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:48 am

At the heart of the motions that were instrumental
in Brad Conway's resignation (supposedly) was the ability of the defense to examine in greater detail
the TES records. Below Richard Hornsby says those
records could be instrumental in the defense of Casey
Anthony. I dont think I agree with him because I believe there isnt anything there to find. Just as with Kronk there is no link to Caylee, the searchers, those people that gave their time to find a child whom the family already knew was dead, have no link to Caylee.
In my mind, its just a waste of time and money.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Defense attorney Richard Hornsby told WESH 2 that raising reasonable doubt over who placed Caylee's remains in a wooded area along Suburban Drive is critical to Casey Anthony's defense.

Hornsby said that critical critical issue is at the heart of why Anthony's defense is entitled to Equusearch records.
"If they can't determine she placed the body there, they're going to have a hard time determining she killed the child," Hornsby said.

During a closed door meeting Monday, Judge Belvin Perry gave Jose Baez and the defense a big victory -- the right to determine which volunteers searched the closest to where Caylee's remains were later found.

"The bottom line is, we want to know what happened out there," Baez said.

Had Perry not given the defense this ability, Hornsby said any conviction would have likely been overturned.

"It would have come back on appeal, this is the heart of the defense," Hornsby said.

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Normal Re: Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by cherylz on Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:14 pm

Right, there is no evidence there that ANYONE placed the body there. All evidence was washed away. So the heart of the case seems to be who was last seen with Caylee, who had motive, etc...
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Normal Re: Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by jeanne1807 on Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:15 pm

I wonder who's decision it was not to take this plea agreement? Baez? Casey? The Ants?

I think she should have taken this and ran with it. It's probably the best she is going to get. It is out of context from the above.

"Terry Lenamon once worked for Anthony's defense team and is a veteran of at least eight death-penalty cases and 20 other first-degree-murder cases. He agrees Anthony shouldn't be facing a potential death sentence. Rather, he said, the defense should have reached a plea agreement earlier in the case.

Recent court documents submitted by the defense suggest that very early on, Anthony was offered a 10-year prison sentence in exchange for telling authorities where Caylee's remains were located. True or not, no deal ever emerged. Baez would not discuss the issue."
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Normal Re: Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:22 pm

Jeanne, I LOVE your new avatar!!! Very cool!!

Question, on the above post, are you quoting someone and/or is this your opinion? If it's a quote, do you by chance have a link?

I completely disagree with this 10 year plea deal. B.S!! For killing your own child in the manner in which we all know she did? Plea deal, Schme deal. BS

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Normal Re: Casey Anthony: Fate could hinge on Perry's rulings on death penalty

Post by cherylz on Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:58 pm

I agree Wrap...for doing what she did a plea deal should not even have been an issue.
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