O'Reilly Slams Accident Theory in Casey Anthony Trial in Discussion With Prosecutor Jeff Ashton

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight: reaction. With us, one of the prosecutors in the Casey Anthony case, Florida assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton. Are you surprised that Jennifer Ford, you saw her in the courtroom, right?


O'REILLY: …went on ABC News, national television, and said well maybe she didn't get medical care. Are you surprised?

ASHTON: A little surprised. I mean, I know that jurors when they get back in the jury room can -- can do what they want. That's the system the way it is. I was a little surprised that she went into that depth and I had not heard that quote about medical care and I'm not really quite sure what she was trying to say.

O'REILLY: Were you and your prosecution team concerned at all that this bogus specter of an accident, whether it be drowning or chloroforming the girl, which none of that was ever established, all right, correct, am I correct?

ASHTON: Absolutely right.

O'REILLY: Nothing. Nothing.

ASHTON: You're absolutely right.

O'REILLY: And the judge said that, right? The judge said directly these theories, there is nothing to back them up.

ASHTON: Well, he did -- he did allow them to argue the accident theory because of some very, very peripheral evidence about the pool and that kind of thing. The thing he wouldn't let them argue was the molestation. That was the part he said…

O'REILLY: OK, but the accident theory, was there one shred of evidence to back it up?

ASHTON: A shred, yes. A shred being that Caylee could open the door and -- and climb the pool ladder if it was up. That's the shred.

O'REILLY: Are you kidding me? That's not evidence. Any human being over the age of two can open a door and climb a ladder.

ASHTON: Right.

O'REILLY: That's not evidence that she fell into a pool. You know that.

ASHTON: I -- I -- I did not find it compelling but, you know, the jurors may have seen it differently.

O'REILLY: But I don't understand this and explain this to me. When you guys were discussing the case amongst yourselves, the prosecution team, did you have any idea that the pool could play a role in the acquittal of Casey Anthony?

ASHTON: We felt based upon the -- the -- the manner in which Caylee was found, the photographs of her remains -- and most people haven't seen that photograph, at least not in an un-blurred way -- we felt the way she was found with the duct tape over the skull was -- was very compelling evidence. And in fact our medical examiner basically said there is no reason to put duct tape on a child, dead or alive.

O'REILLY: It's -- describe the picture to the audience. The duct tape picture.

ASHTON: Basically it's a picture of -- of Caylee's skull; it's buried in sort of leaf debris up to about the area of the bottom of the nose. There is duct tape sort of right near that area, you know, obviously the face is decomposed so the duct tape is not directly on the skull but basically around that portion of the face basically from here to the sides.

O'REILLY: So she couldn't breathe.

ASHTON: Assuming that it was on there when she was alive, yes, that was our theory.

O'REILLY: All right. Now Jennifer Ford, I have to get back to her because she is the only juror that we really have heard from. Jennifer Ford is basically saying that she can sleep at night and that she has done her duty under the Constitution because that theory that there could have been an accident, it didn't have to be in the pool, by the way.

ASHTON: Right.

O'REILLY: It didn't -- it could have been -- because there was a theory that Caylee Anthony wanted to party so she used chloroform to put Caylee to sleep. There is a theory. You've heard that, right?

ASHTON: I've heard that.

O'REILLY: Again, no proof of any of that, OK. But because there is an unfounded theory with no evidence to back it up, Jennifer Ford on the jury says, you know, that's reasonable doubt. Is that reasonable doubt?

ASHTON: It can be. I mean…

O'REILLY: Nothing to back it up? Nothing?

ASHTON: It can be depending on the evidence. I mean, the juror, it's the state's burden to prove the murder.

O'REILLY: But did you not prove that there wasn't -- I mean, you can't prove a negative. I mean, it's impossible.

ASHTON: Right, right.

O'REILLY: All right, but you seem to be almost siding with Jennifer Ford and I'm appalled.

ASHTON: I'm not -- I'm not necessarily siding with her interpretation of the evidence. What I'm saying is that -- that -- that it is the state's burden to prove and if she felt that the state didn't prove it…

O'REILLY: That's not what she said though.

ASHTON: I -- I -- yes.

O'REILLY: All right. She said that her rationale quite clearly was that the little girl could have died another way than at the hand of her mother.

ASHTON: Right.

O'REILLY: I'm going to ask you again: Is there any evidence that the little girl died another way?

ASHTON: There isn't but it's important to understand…

O'REILLY: There isn't.

ASHTON: Well, but it's important to understand that it's -- it's not -- the burden is on the state to prove it happened this way. And -- and I thought we did. If she didn't see it that way, that was her right. But yes, it wouldn't be the burden on the defendant to prove that it was an accident. It would be the burden on the state to prove that it was not, which, again, I felt we did. She apparently didn't.

O'REILLY: So you see where I'm going with this?

ASHTON: I do. I do.

O'REILLY: Ms. Ford, with all due respect to her, is using an unproved theory that was thrown out with no backup to justify her decision in part…


O'REILLY: …to acquit. Does that not disturb you?

ASHTON: It does and if -- jurors are told that a reasonable doubt cannot be a speculative or imaginary thing.

O'REILLY: But that's exactly what this is, speculative.

ASHTON: And -- and if -- if that was the reason that she did it, I think you may be right. You know, it's a fine line between "The state didn't prove it was murder" and "I think it was an accident." Those are very fine lines. But, you know, ultimately you give the jury all of these directions and then you just have to, you know, if you believe in the rule of law, you have to just say they did this.

O'REILLY: No, there's no doubt about that but my job is to cut through the bull.

ASHTON: Sure. Yes, well.

O'REILLY: All right, and to get to really what happened here.


O'REILLY: And there is not a shred of evidence that I have seen about an accident.

ASHTON: Oh I agree with you about that.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

ASHTON: Yes, absolutely right.

O'REILLY: We appreciate you coming in, counselor.

ASHTON: Sure, my pleasure.

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