staff and news service reports
updated 8/5/2011 11:05:19 AM ET 2011-08-05T15:05:19

A judge deciding whether Casey Anthony should serve probation for check fraud has ended a hearing without a ruling.

Judge Belvin Perry described the case Friday as a "mess" before saying he needs more time to research whether Anthony should return to Orlando to report to a probation office.

"If anything could go wrong, it went wrong here," Perry explained in court.

Anthony's lawyers were asking Perry to overturn another judge's order requiring her to return to Florida and serve probation.

The Florida mother disappeared from the public eye after she was acquitted last month in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

However, pictures surfaced this week on the entertainment web site allegedly showing Anthony on a shopping trip in Ohio, where she has relatives.

TMZ said the images of the woman, who resembles Anthony, were taken last weekend.

Judge Stan Strickland sentenced Anthony in January 2010 to probation after she pleaded guilty to using checks stolen from a friend.

Judge recuses himself
The state Department of Corrections interpreted the sentence to mean Anthony could serve the probation while she was in jail awaiting trial, but Strickland said last week he intended the probation to be served after her release. Strickland later recused himself from the case, with Judge Belvin Perry taking over.

If Perry decides to honor the probation order, Anthony would have to return to Orlando.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Anthony fights court-ordered Fla. return

  1. Transcript of: Anthony fights court-ordered Fla. return

    ANN CURRY, co-host: Here at home, Casey Anthony is fighting her court-ordered return to Florida to serve probation on a fraud charge. Her lawyers are set to make their case before a judge today. We've got NBC 's Jeff Rossen now in Orlando with the latest on this story. Jeff , good morning.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Hi , Ann , good morning to you. Look, obviously Casey Anthony has no -- doesn't want to come back to Florida at all to serve her probation . Even prosecutors here in Florida aren't asking her to come back. Here's the letter, in fact, from the state of Florida , Department of Corrections back in January saying she completed her probation , saying, "Best wishes for a very successful future." But still it all sits in the hands of a judge here in Orlando today who could decide whether Casey Anthony remains in hiding or not. When Casey Anthony was released last month, who knew we'd be back today awaiting a new ruling that could send her right back here to Orlando . Here's the issue. Long before her murder trial, Casey Anthony plead guilty to check fraud .

    Ms. CASEY ANTHONY: I'd like to sincerely apologize.

    ROSSEN: Admitting she went on shopping sprees at Target and Winn-Dixie using her best friend's account. The sentence: time served and one-year probation . At issue now, whether she already served that probation while sitting in jail waiting for her murder trial or does she need to come back?

    Ms. DIANA TENNIS (Legal Analyst): If the department of corrections was supervising her that entire year, and she as at jeopardy of violating her probation if she did something wrong in jail, that means she was serving that sentence and we can't have her do it twice.

    ROSSEN: But the judge in the check fraud case says she intended for Casey to serve probation after her release, not in jail. Casey 's lawyers are fighting that. The original judge has since recused himself, so now this judge, the one who presided over the murder trial, could decide today. Casey Anthony 's lead attorney, Jose Baez , spoke with Matt here on TODAY.

    Mr. JOSE BAEZ: Well, I live in the United States of America where if someone's accused of a crime, you have your day in court, and if a jury finds you not guilty that should be the end of it. But unfortunately in this e-lynching type day that we live in that's not possible.

    Offscreen Voice: We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty.

    ROSSEN: And don't forget, many in Orlando don't want Casey Anthony to return. Some people here screamed when the jury came back with a not guilty in the death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee . And now for some, that shock has morphed into anger with concerns for Casey 's safety.

    Unidentified Man: There's a lot of hate out there right now, so she wouldn't want to be in Orlando right now. I'd give it some time, give it a year or a couple.

    ROSSEN: Right now, Casey Anthony remains in hiding. No one is completely sure where she is here in the country. She will not be here at the hearing today, that is for sure. Just her lawyers. She will only return to Florida , we're told, if the judge orders it. Court is set for 9 AM Eastern, so just a couple of hours from now, Ann.


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