Lifetime TV Movie: Prosecuting Casey Anthony Review
Lifetime TV Movie: Prosecuting Casey Anthony Synopsis: Florida prosecutor, Jeff Ashton’s inside story of the true crime drama that captivated and then shocked the nation when Caylee Anthony’s mother, Casey, was acquitted of killing her daughter.
Lifetime TV Movie “Prosecuting Casey Anthony” is based on the book “Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony” written by Jeff Ashton, one of the chief prosecutors in the 6-week Casey Anthony murder trial in 2011. Rob Lowe portrays Jeff Ashton. Lowe stated in an interview for the movie that it gives you a different perspective on the case when you walk in their shoes, although he doesn’t reveal if playing Ashton may have changed his mind about the guilt or innocence of Casey Anthony. Ashton, who is the Orange-Osceolo County state attorney realizes some things will have to be changed for dramatic effect, to make it more sensational.
The defense attorney, Jose Baez, is played by Oscar Nuñez, probably most familiar to audiences from “The Office.” Elizabeth Mitchell, previously on “Lost” and currently on “Revolution,” plays Ashton’s 2nd chair Linda Drane Burdick. These three dominate the movie. Virginia Welch, who plays Casey Anthony, is almost a bit player with hardly any dialogue.
“Prosecuting Casey Anthony” is a must-see for anybody who loves real-life court-room dramas. It gives a real insight into some of the things that went on behind the scenes of the trial. We, as TV viewers, were only privy to what was shown on TV which made it easy for Casey Anthony to be convicted in the court of public opinion, but when you delve into all the legal aspects of what has to be proved and what evidence they actually had to work with, it’s not so cut and dried.
After Casey Anthony was arrested, all conversations were video-taped. Since there were always cameras on them, how much of what they said was honest concern and how much was worded in such a way that they may have been covering something up in the subtext of their conversations.
Casey Anthony waited 31 days to report Caylee was missing. She says she was trying to find her using her own resources. Who would wait 31 days to report their child missing? Was she covering for somebody else? She said Caylee’s nanny may have taken her. As a consummate liar, maybe she truly believed somebody else had taken Caylee and that she would turn up alive.
The prosecution theorized that duct tape was put over Caylee’s mouth and nose after she was knocked out by chloroform, but the duct tape that was found had no DNA on it. It was brought up that Cindy Anthony searched 84 times for chlorophyll and chloroform on her computer. They created a video graphic of how the duct tape could have covered Caylee’s mouth and nose which was grizzly to say the least. If there was only one search for chloroform it would be one search too many. But still circumstantial evidence. They need 12 votes. Chloroform then duct tape is a possible way she could have been killed, but still no real proof.
Another theory is that she was drowned. They presented a scenario where George cradled Caylee at the side of the pool and cursed Casey for being a negligent mother and that Cindy was going to call the police. However, there was no evidence that this ever happened. If George found Caylee drowned, then why was her body found in a swamp? As Ashton states in the movie, “If she had drowned in the pool she would have found near the pool and not in a swamp.” Who put her body in the swamp? Was George and Cindy covering up for Casey? Did Caylee really drowned? Could they have done forensics on the bones to check that out? George later goes on to say, “I wasn’t there when Caylee died. It really hurt. If I had known something had happened to Caylee we wouldn’t be here today.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by that. Did he mean that they would have buried the body deeper and had done a better job of getting rid of any evidence?
A theory was that Casey wanted to sacrifice her daughter’s life so she could live her own. But there were numerous witnesses that said Casey loved her daughter and was a caring and loving mother, yet after Caylee was gone Casey had a tattoo that said “Bella Vita” which means “the beautiful life.” What did it mean? What did it refer to? Questions. No answers.
It was brought up that Casey was a first-class liar who lied so much that she didn’t know the difference between what was a lie and what was the truth. Easy to pass a lie detector test if you believe your lie is real. Or maybe the lie is the truth. They say truth, like reality, is a matter of perception.
Was Casey molested by her father? The movie tried to prove the truth of this, but George was a cop and he would never lie about something like this. But he would also never admit to it. And besides, “molestation is not an excuse for murder.” A body language “expert” stated that when George looked down at his prayer-folded hands while on the witness stand and stated he would never molest his own daughter, his body language indicated he was ashamed and trying to hide something. Ashton said Casey was the type of person that “at 13 yrs old she could have gone from having the penis of her dad in her mouth and then gone to school as if nothing happened.” Pretty graphic image I’d really like to forget.
The movie brought up that George wrote a suicide note which he explained by saying, “It seemed the right time to be with Caylee. I didn’t want to be in this world anymore. I failed her.” But within a week he was back making media appearances, one for which he received $20K. All appearances stopped when the abuse allegations came out.
There was a cutesy scene at the bar of a restaurant where Ashton and Burdick make a bet as to whether Baez will put Casey Anthony on the stand to testify. Burdick thinks he will. Ashton thinks he won’t.
After all the witnesses have all been questioned, the judge asks Baez if Casey Anthony will be testifying. He says no. The judge asks Casey if this decision is of her own free will. She says yes. Ashton turns to Burdick and says, “Steak and lobster.”
The closing arguments scene goes back and forth between Baez and Ashton, each trying to convince the jury of either her innocence of guilt. When the jury returns it finds Casey Anthony not guilty of killing Caylee.
Ashton really believed that “Everything says she’s guilty and the jury will say she’s guilty, because you know why? She’s guilty.” So he was surprised when she was found innocent. Jose Baez had stood by Casey Anthony from the beginning and believed she was innocent, so he was not surprised at the verdict. He said that he found her to be a remarkable young woman.
We see Ashton being interviewed. He’s asked if there’s anything he would have liked to have asked Casey Anthony if she had taken the stand. “I would ask her ‘What does Bella Vita mean to you?’ I would have loved to have heard her explanation for that.”
The final scene of the movie shows Ashton on his laptop watching the first video blog that Casey Anthony did. She says this is the first of her video blog that she’ll be doing. She touches her right hand to pursed lips, as if she pinching them closed, then says, “This is the end. This is the end and just the beginning.” Ashton closes his laptop and that’s the end of the movie.
Interesting and revealing how justice and the legal system are. In order to convict there is supposed to be motive or intent, means, and opportunity. They couldn’t really prove how Caylee died. There was no clear motive or intent. No evidence of child abuse or neglect. No real proof of a murder. So how and why Caylee Anthony died will not only never be answered, but will never be proven. Our legal system says a person is innocent until proven guilty, and according to the jury Casey Anthony was, and is, innocent.
An interesting tidbit that was brought up afterward in the “Beyond the Headlines: Prosecuting Casey Anthony” documentary, on the real-life trial, that aired after the movie was that a year later they searched Cindy Anthony’s computer and found evidence that she, or somebody in the house, had been doing searches for “foolproof suffocation.” Who had access to the computer? Why were they searching for this? Cindy? George? Casey? George and Cindy have cut all ties with Casey. Intesresting. Questions. No answers.
Prosecuting Casey Anthony Cast:
Rob Lowe as Jeff Ashton
Elizabeth Mitchell as Linda Drane Burdick
Marisa Ramirez as Rita Ashton
Michael Reventar as Ricardo Morales
Oscar Nuñez as Jose Baez
Virginia Welch as Casey Anthony
Jonathan Potts as Sgt. Kevin Stenger
Shannon Jacques as Mallory Parker
Kevin Dunn as George Anthony
Marina Stephenson Kerr as Cindy Anthony
Kelly Wolfman as Ann Finnell
Directed by Peter Werner
Teleplay Written by Alison Cross, based on the novel by Jeff Ashton
Cecelia Lawshe is a web developer/programmer and has won two Webby Awards. She can be contacted via Cecelia Lawshe on Facebook.
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