Read for an update on the explosive trial below.
The power of the Casey Anthony drama is self-evident in the gaggle of passengers gathered around this airport's television monitors. Like millions of Americans, they are following every twist and turn as this painful but compelling case careens to its dramatic conclusion.
As I walk through sprawling Newark Airport en route back to Orlando for Friday's closing arguments and hopefully a fair verdict, it is clear that people are emotionally invested in the outcome of this trial of the new century.
"Should Casey, the accused mom, have testified?" people ask. Was George-the-grandfather's mistress at all believable when she said grandpa allegedly told her this tragedy was "an accident that spiraled out of control?"
Is there reasonable doubt that Casey acted alone?
And people wonder, Isn't this family:
C) capable of sex abuse, cover-up and obstruction?
Having been asked by hardened pro and enthusiastic amateur alike what I think the jury will decide, there are a couple points to make.
First, that the vicious personal attacks on Casey's Latino lawyer Jose Baez are annoying and offensive. Any lawyer is only as good as the facts in his case. Working for chump change, he has been out spent by at least 20-1 by the state. He is not accused of child murder. He is a damn lawyer not a defendant and those who recklessly attack him do so from a visceral, shallow, narrow-minded place.
Not that I don't understand the instinct to kill/blame the messenger. I did the same thing to O.J. Simpson's lead lawyer Johnny Cochran, although all he was guilty of was being a brilliant lawyer for one of history's true jerk-offs.
Baez hasn't been brilliant, but he has been game and solid; effectively highlighting the funky meter man, the weird brother Lee, the not-so-together parents, the inexplicable early searches, the mystery swimming pool ladder left attached and more.
None of this means his client Casey didn't do the gut-wrenching crime, more or less as the prosecution said she did it; killing her adorable toddler so she could boogie like it was 1999.
But it does mean there can be no conviction for capital murder.
She never should have been charged with that death penalty crime in the first place. Even in Florida, once home to "Old Sparky" the (pre-lethal injection) over-used electric chair, only two women have been put to death in 150 years, both serial killers.
Hard pressed against the July 4th weekend, the jury will get the case late Friday or first thing Saturday. Will they rush to judgment to escape the sequestered world where they have lived cut off from their families since May? How will that impact their verdict? In their eagerness for fireworks and BBQ will they, as I believe, choose the verdict that is their least common denominator. Will it be aggravated manslaughter, as I have suggested?
I'll update this as soon as I know anything. The airplane doors are closing. Next stop: The Orange County Florida courthouse, where our shared drama is about to conclude.
UPDATE FROM THE COURTROOM:
Although justice delayed is often said to be justice denied, in the capital murder death penalty trial of accused child-killer Casey Anthony, it ain't over till it's over.
And now it appears legally impossible for this case to be wrapped up before the July 4th holiday.
This is because of the prosecution's decision to specifically rebut two defense arguments:
-- That grandma searched the home computer for chloroform, not the accused.
-- And that the child's autopsy was incomplete and inconclusive.
So as the trial drags on through a Friday afternoon, we all thought we would see this case wrapped up.
Now Judge Belvin Perry Jr. is leaning toward a presumably full day of testimony Saturday, followed by closing arguments on Sunday, deliberations on July 4, and a verdict possibly Tuesday morning.
Now this sequestered jury has a blown holiday to also hold against this defendant.
But I still believe they will follow the evidence and come to a compromise verdict that does not include death for the deeply unpopular, now 25-year old mother, accused of a heinous crime.
Geraldo Rivera is Senior Columnist for Fox News Latino.