The trial commenced on 24 May 2011. The lead prosecutor was assistant state attorney Linda Burdick and the defense was led by Jose Baez. Judge Belvin Perry presided. The prosecution called for a death sentence.
The police produced around of four hundred pieces of evidence. The prosecution claimed that Anthony had dosed her daughter with chloroform, covered her mouth with duct tape to suffocate her, kept the body in the trunk of her car for a few days and then disposed of it. The car was found abandoned with the bag of rubbish in the boot, near a dumpster. The prosecution attempted to introduce a new test for the first time which was supposed to prove that the odor was consistent with that of a decomposing human body.
Other evidence included computer searches relating to chloroform and neck breaking. Traces of chloroform were found in Anthony’s car. The prosecution claimed that the motive for the murder was that Caylee had become a burden to Anthony’s life style. Anthony’s reputation came under severe attack, both inside the court and out. She was crucified by the media.
The defense retaliated by disputing all the forensic evidence as fantasy and referred to the cheque book prosecution. One of their witnesses, Dr Werner Spitz testified that the duct tape could have been placed on the skull after the body had decomposed and that the crime scene photos had been staged. No evidence of human decomposition could be established in the trunk of the car. Under cross-examination it was put to Roy Kronk that he may have moved the body of Caylee and that he had allegedly claimed that finding the body would make him rich and famous. It was even alleged that Kronk could have killed Caylee.
The defense offered an alternative explanation for Caylee’s death: that she had accidently drowned and that Anthony and her father had covered up the accident. Medical examiner Dr Garavaglia ruled out drowning as the cause of death.
On 5 July 2011, the jury found Anthony not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. She was found guilty on four counts of providing false information to a police officer. These referred to her lying about her employment, lying about the fictitious babysitter, lying about informing two employees at Universal Studios of Caylee’s disappearance and lying that she had received a call from Caylee on 15 July. Judge Perry sentenced her to one year in jail and a one thousand dollar fine for each of the four counts. Because of time served and credit for good behaviour Casey Anthony was released on 17 July 2011.