OTR Interviews

Anatomy of a Stunning Verdict: How Casey Anthony Was Acquitted

'On the Record' legal panel reacts to stunning verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Casey's defense team came out on top as jurors declared Casey not guilty of murdering her daughter Caylee.

So how did the prosecution lose the jury? Let's ask our legal panel. Joining us in Orlando is attorney Diana Tennis, former San Francisco San Francisco Assistant DA Jim Hammer, and criminal defense attorneys Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams. Ted represents Brandon Sparks, the son of the man who found Caylee's remains.

Jim, I don't know if that's actually fair to say how did the prosecution lose it. This was a highly I think technical case on the elements of murder. And you have a situation where the remains have been out in the elements for six months, destroying lots of the opportunity to determine cause of death. But your thoughts on this verdict?

JIM HAMMER, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO ASSISTANT DA: I think what ended with is where I would start, Greta, which is I've prosecuted a bunch of murder cases and investigated a bunch of them. When you have a body that has been that decomposed, when the crime scene itself has been obliterated, being able to tell how the person was murdered, by whom, perhaps trace evidence and all the rest of it, it takes away a lot of the details that most juries want, especially in a death penalty case. Juries want at the end of the day if they are going to vote guilty and especially look at death say I feel like I know how it happened. I feel like I know the motive, and I believe he or she did it. And all along the best evidence they had is liar, liar.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is not a question of wanting. I wouldn't use that term. And I will go to Bernie, on this, but it's not necessarily a question of wanting. It is whether or not the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the case, every element of the charge. One is that she was killed by the hands of someone else. And if the evidence just isn't there, the jury doesn't have a choice, if the jury is not convinced.

BERNIE GRIMM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The jury is going to say to the state, I'm not going to make up some evidence that you don't have. We had a great discussion with you and Dr. Baden about a week ago regarding cause of death. And not to get to technical, but they couldn't provide the doctor -- the medical examiner could not provide a cause of death.

So essentially you are throwing into the jury box she is a slut, she's a liar, she's a bum, she's a liar, she's a liar. And then just say, and I want you to conclude that she has to be a murderer. It was smart for Jose Baez to take that on in closing.

VAN SUSTEREN: It doesn't mean that she didn't do it, does it, Diana? It simply means that the prosecution for whatever reason couldn't meet its burden. It doesn't mean she is innocent.

DIANA TENNIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I totally agree with you, Greta. But I have got to say, the more and more I hear from the alternate juror that has come forward, the more and more it sounds like I was wrong, wrong, wrong all the way what long, and the defense was doing a great job and the jury was buying what the defense was selling.

It didn't sound like this was just a we don't quite believe but we think she did something wrong. It sounds to me like they actually believed the defense's theory. And I got to give them credit where credit is due. They did an amazing job that I did not see coming. So I think it's more than just they found reasonable doubt.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess listening to jury, I agree in part with you. But Ted, in these cases the jury really does take the jury instructions seriously, beyond a reasonable doubt. You can walk out of the courtroom and think she is the worst murder there is. But I don't know how she died. There are two competing theories.

TED WILLIAMS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's right. Let's be candid here. If the jury would have made a decision here pursuant and based on emotions, she would have been found guilty. The evidence just was not there.

We need to learn to respect the jury system. There's been a lot of outrage about how the jury ruled in this case. But I think that they were there. They listened. By the way, I was in that courtroom. I observed that jury. That jury was really listening to the evidence in this case.

VAN SUSTEREN: The other thing I think is important to point out is that we see a very different trial than the jury. We see all the argument when the jury is out of the room. The jury actually saw a completely different trial than we did even if you watched the entire trial on television.

GRIMM: The jury didn't see, I think there were rulings that kept evidence out that the jury didn't see. The jury doesn't get to analyze it in the way we do. They see it. And when they go back there everything on the news and newspapers was kept away from them, and they sat there. And 12 people could not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt how she died, where she died, when she died. For that matter, they don't have to prove it, but they didn't prove why she died.

WILLIAMS: We should take our hat off to Jose Baez. He did an excellent job.

TENNIS: Absolutely right.

VAN SUSTEREN: We have to take a quick break. The legal panel is staying with us.