Florida prosecutors and investigators have admitted they missed crucial computer evidence in the Casey Anthony murder case.
Two-year-old Caylee Marie Anthony was reported missing from her Orlando, Florida home on July 15, 2008, nearly a month after she had last been seen by neighbors and friends. After her skeletal remains were found near her home in December 2008, her mother, Casey Anthony, became a prime suspect in what became a murder case. Charged with first degree murder, Anthony went to trial in May 2011.
The jury in that trial found Anthony not guilty of murder, but entered guilty verdicts on charges of providing false information to police officers. Some are now speculating that evidence missed by investigators, and thus never introduced at trial, may have lead to a guilty verdict for the murder.
According to a CBS News report, someone searched the term "fool-proof suffocation" on Anthony's computer. They then went to a website that include advice on "foolproof" ways to die, telling visitors to "poison yourself and then follow it up with suffocation" by placing "a plastic bag over the head." Investigators and prosecutors told the jury they believed this was the method used to murder Caylee. However, the defense argued that Caylee had drowned accidentally in the family pool and that her grandfather, George Anthony, disposed of the body out of fear.
Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Angelo Nieves admitted that his investigators missed the internet search during their computer forensics examination, saying:
“There was an oversight. This has been a learning experience for investigators as well.”
Jeff Ashton, a criminal trial prosecutor called the evidence a "crucial weapon" for the prosecution, telling the New York Post:
"It's just a shame we didn't have it. This certainly would have put the accidental death claim in serious question."
The lead prosecutor in the trial, Linda Drane Burdick, had requested an Internet search history two months before the trial began. Florida State Attorney, Lawson Lamar, has said he will meet with the Orange County Sheriff's Department to find out why the majority of the internet searches were either not discovered by investigators or never presented to prosecutors prior to the trial. Lamar is not publicly criticizing investigators or prosecutors however, saying he has "faith in the integrity of the Sheriff's Office" and in Burdick's "pursuit of justice."
Luis Calderon, a legal analyst for WKMG was asked if the evidence could have made a significant difference in the juries verdict. Calderon replied:
“Although there was no physical evidence of Casey being there, it would lead one to believe there was at least knowledge or that guilty state of mind on the day that Caylee Anthony died.”
He went on to point out that despite the new evidence, Anthony cannot be retried, saying:
"She’s been tried, jeopardy is attached. There’s really nothing that can be done, no recourse for the state or [federal] government to take action against Casey Anthony at this time.”