OTR Interviews

Casey Anthony Alternate Juror: 'The Mother Mishandled Something'

Russell Huekler on why he agrees with jury's decision not to convict Casey Anthony of murder, the key moment in the trial and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our own Griff Jenkins caught up with Alternate Juror Number 14, Russell Huekler.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Who is Russ Huekler? Here in St. Petersburg, Russ, after seven weeks of being sequestered, you wake up in your own bed here in St. Petersburg, what's your reaction to see the news, the fallout in this case?

RUSSELL HUEKLER, ALTERNATE JUROR FOR CASEY ANTHONY MURDER TRIAL: Shocked. Really shocked. It was last night after the news had left, my wife and I were, you know, in the bedroom and watching the TV And how the negativity that I saw, you know, from the public, I'm thinking, "Oh, my gosh."

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You know, it was bizarre to me because during the seven weeks of the sequestered -- when we were sequestered, we got no news, especially of the trial. And the news that we got was either, you know, from three days to a week old. And they took our TVs out at the end, you know, because of the - - any kind of coverage, you know, commercials that could be referencing the case.

So we saw nothing. And it was -- for me, it was really bizarre, OK, for the negativity. and how the public is reacting to this. And I didn't understand the sensation -- I don't understand the sensationalism of this case. You know, unfortunately, it was a murder case, you know, with a, you know, 2-year-old little girl, you know, dying. And so again -- but that happens, you know, around the country. And I really didn't understand the sensationalism of this case.

And I -- for the -- three years ago, I must have been living under a rock. I knew very little of what this case was about. When they were asking me, when I was becoming a juror, What do you know, I said, Well, I do recall that a little girl went missing. Didn't think anything else of it until in December, when, you know, Caylee's body was found. So I had very little knowledge of the case, and then when we were gone for all this time, had no knowledge of the case. So I was actually kind of shocked by the public's reaction.

JENKINS: Let me ask you -- because I want to get into the case. But you mentioned this little girl. What do you think happened? After the evidence you've seen, how do you think Caylee died?

HUEKLER: That would be totally speculation on my part. I personally think there was a horrific accident that happened, that I think the Anthonys -- there's a lot more to say about what actually happened to Caylee.

But again, the -- and we'll talk about, I guess, the case, but they really couldn't prove a murder charge. I personally think it was an accident. But I -- but what I've been told from the news -- news panels is that I'm definitely in the minority and I have it wrong.

JENKINS: That's true. I mean, you know, the local papers here point to some polls that suggest that, overwhelmingly, the folks that were watching it and across the nation thought she was guilty of more than simply perjury, which is what she was found guilty of, innocent of first degree murder. That shocks you.

HUEKLER: Well, you got to remember it's reasonable doubt, you know? And the evidence proved we had a reasonable doubt for this case. And the burden of proof is so high on the reasonable doubt. Judge Perry went, you know, really into what the law says or what you have to prove for reasonable doubt. And if you have the slightest reservation, you have to, you know, vote not guilty.

But I wasn't a part of the deliberations, so I don't know what happened within the deliberations. But for me, I don't think the prosecution met their burden of proof in the case.

JENKINS: Had you been in the deliberation, would you have come to the same conclusion that this jury did?

HUEKLER: Yes, I would have. I would have. And (INAUDIBLE) is for three reasons. Number one, the evidence didn't support a murder charge or the manslaughter charge. It just -- for me, it just wasn't there.

Secondly, they didn't prove -- show motive. Why would a -- supposedly a good mother, you know, who loved her daughter just all of a sudden one day, you know, kill her? And they tried to show motive at the end of the trail that, you know, Casey was a party girl. I personally didn't buy that because she had a good support system with, you know, her mom and dad willing, you know, to watch Caylee. And the grandparents loved Caylee.

And then the third thing is, no one could show how Caylee died. And I think that was a -- you know, a huge factor, why -- so for those three reasons, I would have had -- I agree with my fellow jurors.

JENKINS: Let me ask you this. Do you -- I mean, you mentioned the Anthonys and their willingness to watch Caylee, but did you not find that this is a highly dysfunctional family?

HUEKLER: I want to be careful. I don't want to get myself in trouble. But I definitely felt they were dysfunctional. And what degree that dysfunctionality was, I don't know. But you could tell that there's something definitely wrong within this family unit and -- from the testimony, especially, you know -- well, from, you know, both Cindy and George. Stories had changed. Both the prosecution and the defense was great in impeaching both, you know, George and Cindy at one time.

I felt sorry for Lee for all this. He came across as the one member of the family that you could believe in, you know, gave, you know, compelling evidence -- or compelling testimony.

JENKINS: Take me inside the case. Was there one defining moment where you -- it really cemented things for you, it really had an impact on your thinking on the case as an alternate juror, you were going to draw upon that moment or moments in your determining?

HUEKLER: I think it was at the end, you know, of the case. I kept an open mind completely, you know, from day one to the very end day. And what really hit home for me is when the attorney, Mr. Mason, was explaining, you know, the burden of proof on the prosecution, and you know, from she might have done it or, man, she -- she did it, OK? And when he went through those different steps, discussing -- you know, explaining what is reasonable doubt, it was right then and -- it was at that point -- I was -- my gut reaction was that they had not met their burden of proof.

JENKINS: So your doubt was more that it was murder, rather than this tragic accident, and perhaps the prosecution made their flaw by pushing on the murder, rather than a mother who clearly may have mishandled a tragic accident?

HUEKLER: Well, the mother mishandled something, OK? What that is, we don't know and we're never going to know. Only, you know, Casey knows at this point. You know, something horrific did happen. You had the death of a beautiful little 2-year-old that's life should not have ended. But again, since they couldn't prove, you know, the murder -- within a reasonable doubt that a murder had taken place, I think the jury had -- the way they voted I had to agree with.

JENKINS: Let's talk about Casey's lying. What did you make of that? Pretty apparent.

HUEKLER: Yes, I -- definitely, the lying. But what you have to remember with Casey, these lies just didn't start, you know, 31 days, you know, prior to when, you know -- when they speculate when Caylee died until she was arrested and afterwards -- you know, afterwards. She had been lying for up to two years with the -- I'll quote Mr. Baez's "the imaginary friends," you know, Zanny the nanny. So those lies -- she had been living these lies for a long time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: So what was it like to be a juror on the Casey Anthony murder trial? The 12 main jurors and the five alternates were al sequestered, taken from their jobs and their families, forced to live in an Orlando, Florida hotel for nearly seven weeks. Alternate juror Russell Huekler tells us his days were very structured, but the weekends, well, they weren't so bad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What was it like being sequestered? Share for us what that experience must have been incredible?

RUSSELL HUEKLER, ALTERNATE JUROR FOR CASEY ANTHONY MURDER TRIAL: It was incredible. Here you are with 17 people that you don't know. And it was amazing how well that, you know, 17 got along. And we've commented about that, how well we did together.

But you know days started. They got us up at 6:00 in the morning, gave us breakfast, took us to the courthouse by 8:00. We went into court and heard testimony, quote, all day. We got out at 5:00 and got back to the hotel between 6:00 and 6:30. You were tired. And our TV was very limited. But most of us just went to bed or just relaxed in rooms.

Saturday was always kind of fun because the Orange County sheriff's department had different activities for to us do, which was great. And then we, you know, about eight or nine of us had penny ante poker games at night, Saturday nights.

Sunday we were allowed visitation one day a week, and if your families were able to come you were there from 2:00 to 11:00. And if you did have families come, they allowed us to go to the pool and just hang out there for a couple hours. And it was just a day of relaxation. And so Monday it started all over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)