Friday, January 6, 2017

Review of "Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony" by Jeff Ashton with Lisa Pulitzer

In 2011, Casey Anthony was tried for murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Veteran prosecutor Jeff Ashton was part of the prosecution team and - along with most people following the case - expected Casey to be convicted. Instead the jury declared Casey not guilty of all major charges.....murder, manslaughter, and child neglect. In this book Ashton relates the events surrounding Casey's arrest and the details of her trial.

Little Caylee was first reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony. The toddler hadn't been seen for 31 days and grandma Cindy was frantic. When police questioned Casey about her daughter's whereabouts, the stories changed from hour to hour.....and none were true. It turns out Casey is a pathological liar - perhaps even a sociopath - and it's fascinating to see how quickly she pivoted from one lie to another when her untruths were exposed.

To add to their suspicions the police discovered that - while Caylee was missing - Casey hung out with her boyfriend, went clubbing, got a tattoo, and used a stolen check for a shopping spree at Target (where she bought lots of stuff for herself but nothing for a toddler).

Eventually Caylee's decomposed body was found, but no cause of death could be determined. Still, Casey was put on trial.....with the death penalty attached. Ashton is very thorough in his description of the trial: the opening statements; Cindy Anthony lying to protect her daughter (in Ashton's opinion); Casey blaming her father for Caylee's death; problematic testimony from the man who found Caylee's body; twisty hijinks by Jose Baez (Casey's lawyer); conflicting testimony from expert witnesses; closing statements, etc. Through it all Casey's demeanor seemed odd and inappropriate, and she seemed clearly guilty.

Thus Ashton was dumbfounded and bewildered when Casey was acquitted. He admits he couldn't stop talking about the case.....and wrote this book. I followed the Casey Anthony case in the media and didn't find much new here. Still, it was interesting to read Ashton's comprehensive account of the case - along with his speculations about why the jury didn't convict.

My opinion (for what it's worth): Caylee's death might have been due to some bizarre accident.

I'd recommend the book to fans who enjoy true crime stories, especially those who like accounts of trials.

Rating: 3 stars

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