Image: Casey Anthony with her attorney Jose Baez
Red Huber  /  Orlando Sentinel via AP
As for Casey, she will sit in her jail cell and wonder if she did the right thing. Should she have testified? Should she have tried to tell her story herself?
By Kerry Sanders Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/1/2011 11:15:37 AM ET 2011-07-01T15:15:37

Did she or didn’t she? Casey Anthony decided she will let the jury in her murder trial decide that without hearing directly from her.

Viewers who have dipped in and out of the coverage, often unaware what testimony the jury was in the courtroom to hear, and what was presented out of their earshot, may believe it’s an open and shut case.

But before you conclude Casey Anthony, 25, is guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, put yourself in the jury box.

There are 12 jurors, and five alternates who were chosen in part because they knew nothing, or next to nothing, about the case.

The jurors have heard prosecutors say Casey put three pieces of duct tape across her daughters nose and mouth to kill her. And they've heard she used chloroform to poison her child.

Video: Watch Casey Anthony decline to testify (on this page)

The motivation? State prosecutors say because Casey wanted to live the life of a party girl.

Cause of death unknown
What jurors did not see were Casey Anthony's fingerprints on the duct tape. They did not see any evidence of chloroform in Caylee's remains.

What is clear is: the jury in this trial will never know for sure how the toddler died.

The medical examiners conclusion is this was "a homicide by undetermined means."

In a murder case, prosecutors are not required to show how someone was killed, but there's a human desire to want that answer. The jury doesn't have the evidence to know.

But at the same time, the defense promised in openings to show Caylee was not a murder victim, but rather, she drowned in the backyard swimming pool.

Story: Closing arguments in Anthony trial slated for Sunday

The defense evidence of that? A few photographs of Caylee swimming and a photo of her opening the sliding glass door to the backyard without help.

The jurors may well ask: How is that evidence?

The only witnesses to what the judge calls "the defense theory of what happened" were allegedly Casey and her father George.

George took the stand six times during this trial and denied he saw Caylee's body in the pool. He denied he covered up the death. He denied he sexually abused Casey, which is why the defense says he held unusual sway over his daughter’s actions.

Family left gutted
What we have witnessed for 32-days in this courtroom on the 23rd floor of the Orange County Courthouse has been a family gutted in full public view.

George Anthony was accused of having an extra-martial affair.

His alleged paramour took the stand and either told the truth or smeared his fidelity.

Cindy Anthony took the stand and either told the truth that she searched for chloroform on the family computer, or she made up a cover story for her daughter.

And Lee Anthony either sexually molested his sister, as one of Casey's former boyfriends said she had told him, or that boyfriend believed a story that Casey made up.

Either way, the Anthony family leaves this trial bruised, damaged and unable to escape the judgement of strangers.

Story: Former bodyguard: Casey Anthony was ‘unfeeling’

As for Casey, she will sit in her jail cell and wonder if she did the right thing. Should she have testified? Should she have tried to tell her story herself?

If she's convicted, she'll look in a foggy metal prison mirror for a likely 17-years awaiting execution (if that's her sentence), and ask herself "should I have gone on the stand?"

And if she's acquitted, she'll walk away a free woman into a society that has already judged her guilty.

Bob Sullivan at msnbc.com said if O.J. Simpson was the coming of age for cable TV news, then Casey Anthony is the coming of age for social media.

This case has been on Facebook, live on the Internet, and it's zipped around the world at light speed.

A Twitter follower told me "it's big news in Japan you know." Another wrote me to say "I'm in Nigeria, and I tink (sic) she's guilty. What do you tink?"

This "social media trial of the century" has had it all, but one thing.

For all those who have been drawn to watch, comment and offer opinions about Casey's guilt or innocence, about her defense lawyers skills or lack thereof, and to opine about the state's evidence, we have seen no public gatherings, no significant memorials to remind us that a 2-year-old little girl's life ended too soon for a reason we now await the jury to explain with a verdict.

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Video: Casey Anthony won’t take stand in murder trial

  1. Closed captioning of: Casey Anthony won’t take stand in murder trial

    >>> sanders has been covering this trial every step of the way. kerry, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, ann. the defense called 49 witnesses, some took the stand several times. but the one person who will not testify in this murder trial is casey anthony herself. a choice the judge wanted to make sure indeed was her decision. the defense case wrapped up.

    >> your honor, the defense rests.

    >> reporter: but not before the judge asked casey anthony if she planned to testify herself.

    >> you understand that your decision to testify or not testify is solely your decision, and your decision alone?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> and it is your decision not to testify?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> reporter: in all, the judge asked casey six different ways if she wanted to testify, and while she won't take the stand, there were still several final witnesses on this, the 32nd, and last, day of testimony. among the witnesses -- crystal holloway , a volunteer who once searched for 2-year-old caylee. holloway testified she and casey 's father george became intimate, and during a romantic moment once he shared a deep secret about caylee's death.

    >> he had said it was an accident that snowballed out of control, but i was in shock. and by the time i looked up, his eyes were filled like with tears and i didn't elaborate. i didn't ask him anything further.

    >> reporter: a powerful suggestion of reasonable doubt? the state argues casey murdered her daughter caylee so she could live the care- free life of a party girl . but now here at the end of trial, was someone telling the jury george had a secret? remember, the defense claims caylee accidentally drowned in the backyard pool.

    >> they need to know right now that statement is no proof of how this child died.

    >> reporter: the jury also saw george anthony 's eight-page suicide note . his failed attempt to kill himself a month after caylee's remains were found. and in that note, there was no mention of a drowning or a coverup. but it did say, "i am sorry. i love you, cynthia marie. caylee, here i come. lee, i'm sorry. casey -- and it ends there, with no comment to his daughter. a case ready for closing arguments. but for this moment, a spectator who gave the prosecutor what the judge called his middle finger of affection. the judge said those antics could have jeopardized the jury's impartiality so judge belvin perry took the 28-year-old, matthew bartlett , a server at tgi fridays brought him up and sentenced him to six days in jail and fined him plus court courses, all made sure to do it all in front of the jury.

    >> kerry, thank you. star jones is a veteran legal commentator and savannah guthrie is "today's" legal correspondent. scale of 1 to 10, 10 being total shock, how do you feel about casey anthony not taking the stand?

    >> it's a 1.

    >> 1 or 2.

    >> there was no way it was going to happen.

    >> under no circumstances. they had literally months and weeks of lies that casey anthony told as it related to thedy appearance of her child. we would have been watching this brutal cross examination of a pat logical liar for days and days.

    >> not only that, the jurors have actually heard her lie in real-time. they've heard the tapes, seen the videos. so therefore, they know how she sounds when she's telling a lie, a lie that she's now admitted. why would they believe her when she takes the stand?

    >> let me go back to the defense's opening statements in this case. all right? they said that caylee died accidentally in the family swimming pool and that george anthony helped cover up that situation. they also accused him of sexually molesting casey going back to when she was a child. then they didn't call one single witness to the stand during the trial to back up those claims. so when they set out for their closing arguments, do they have the legal right to bring any of that back up?

    >> i think they'll be very, very limited in what they can argue. as you say, there isn't really one scintilla of evidence of sexual molestation. in opening statements , you say what i intend to prove at trial. in closing arguments you're confined to what you have proven at trial. and the lawyers' questions, george anthony for example? that's not evidence.

    >> you are allowed to draw logical inferences of the evidence that's been presented. no evidence has been presented.

    >> so that's done. okay. crystal holloway took the stand yesterday, a/k/a river cruise . was she credible?

    >> she sounded credible and believable if you think that was only about her wanting to get the truth out. but if you believe that this is the kind of woman who attaches herself to high-profile incidents, which she even had to admit on the witness stand , then you would not find her credible.

    >> i would add, even if you do believe her, and you believe that george anthony said that key statement, "this was just an accident that snowballed out of control," number one, i think jurors could think, well maybe that's what he believed at the time. it's not exact ly a smoking gun statement. and number two, i bet star was going to say -- the judge gave a limiting instruction saying you can't use this.

    >> when the jury could start deliberating this weekend, has the prosecution laid out an adequate case or are there major holes in this the jury will pick apart when they start deliberating?

    >> i think there may be some holes for first degree murder. but i do think that she is going to be convicted ultimately. i think they showed that forensically they had a tight enough case that she's going to be looking at the charge.

    >> all right, star jones , savannah guthrie , thank you, ladies. appreciate

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