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State files response to Casey Anthony’s appeal

By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel –

ORLANDO, Fla. — The State of Florida filed its answer on Thursday to Casey Anthony’s appeal of her convictions for lying to law enforcement officers about the death of her daughter, Caylee Marie.

After an ultra-high-profile trial, Anthony was acquitted last summer of murdering her daughter, but convicted of lying to the detectives who searched for the 2-year-old. Anthony initially reported Caylee had been kidnapped, but authorities determined — and Anthony’s defense acknowledged at trial — that the girl was actually dead.

Anthony has appealed her four misdemeanor convictions and asked for a new trial.

The next step in the appeal is for the Anthony team to reply to the paperwork filed by the state on Thursday. That reply is due in 25 days. After that, the case will be set for oral argument before the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach.

Anthony’s appeal is based on three issues:

Jurors shouldn’t have heard testimony about Anthony’s lies, her defense argued, because she hadn’t been advised of her rights, despite having been briefly handcuffed and put in a deputy’s vehicle, before she was questioned by detectives.

Anthony’s attorneys argue that her four convictions violate the constitutional double-jeopardy protection. The four lies she was charged with, they say, were really just one “single offense.”

The defense also argues Circuit Judge Belvin Perry incorrectly ruled against an objection to part of the jury instructions about perjury, rendering the only charges Anthony was ultimately convicted on “unconstitutionally vague.”

In its answer, filed Thursday, the state countered that Anthony was not officially in custody when she lied to investigators and her appellate brief “failed to show a double jeopardy violation” or prove an issue with the instructions.

The appeal has a substantial impact on several lawsuits Anthony faces in connection with her daughter’s death, including a defamation suit brought by Zenaida Gonzalez, who says she was defamed when Anthony told authorities a nanny with a similar name had kidnapped Caylee.

Authorities ultimately determined the nanny didn’t exist, but not before Gonzalez was interviewed by detectives and linked to the case in the media.

Anthony’s defense argued at trial that Caylee drowned in the family’s pool. Prosecutors alleged Anthony killed her and disposed of her body.

Anthony has cited her pending appeal to avoid answering questions about her daughter’s death in that suit, which is currently set for trial in Jan. 2. A spokeswoman for the District Court of Appeal said Thursday it appears unlikely the appeal will conclude before then.

Anthony is also facing lawsuits from Texas EquuSearch, a group which searched for Caylee before she was found dead, and Roy Kronk, the meter-reader who found the girl’s body.

Anthony’s current whereabouts are not publicly known. Her lawyers say she lives in fear of those still angry about her acquittal. However, she was recently subpoenaed to appear at trial in the Gonzalez case.

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