A Florida judge who gained an international audience while presiding over Casey Anthony's murder trial three years ago says he is retiring after nearly 25 years on the bench.
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida mother who was acquitted last year of murdering her 2-year-old daughter had mental health issues that contributed to her habitual lying, the lead attorney in her criminal case says in a new book.
In "Presumed Guilty, Casey Anthony: The Inside Story," Jose Baez said detectives should have realized Casey Anthony had built a "fantasy world," and her lies weren't evidence of guilt but signs of someone with "serious mental health issues."
The 421-page book is scheduled for release July 3. The Associated Press purchased a copy Tuesday.
Anthony is serving probation for an unrelated charged at an undisclosed location in Florida. She couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
Describing how Anthony led detectives on a wild goose chase, even taking them to Universal Studios where she falsely claimed she had a job, Baez writes, detectives "should have stopped and realized, `Wait a minute, we're not dealing with someone who is playing with a full deck."'
Anthony originally told detectives that her daughter, Caylee, was taken by a babysitter in June 2008, and that she didn't report her missing for more than a month because she was searching for the toddler on her own. During Anthony's trial last year, Baez argued that the little girl accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool while Anthony and her father, George, were at home. Anthony panicked from the traumatic effects of being sexually abused by her father and George Anthony hid the body, according to the defense argument.
George Anthony denied the defense's allegations that he abused Casey and helped her cover up Caylee's death.
Prosecutors had contended that Anthony suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend. Jurors acquitted Anthony of first-degree murder but convicted her of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators.
Baez repeats the allegations of sexual abuse in greater detail in the book, saying it contributed to Anthony's mental health issues. Mark Lippman, an attorney for George Anthony, refused to comment on the book Tuesday because he hadn't read it.
Anthony's defense contemplated having her testify until the very end of the trial but then decided it wasn't necessary. "We had everything to lose and very little to gain," Baez writes.
Baez takes aim at the reporters who covered the case, detectives who investigated it, "groupies" who attached themselves to it and the case's original judge who Baez says filed a complaint against him with the Florida Bar. The complaint was later dropped. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton undergoes the harshest criticism by Baez, who calls him "a coward" for not showing up at Anthony's sentencing for the misdemeanors since he was making the talk shows round after the trial.
Baez is critical of many of Circuit Judge Belvin Perry's rulings during the trial but praises the judge for allowing him to pick a fair jury.
Baez doesn't say where Anthony currently is hiding but he provides a glimpse of the first few hours after she was released from jail last July, time mostly devoted to eluding the media. After escorting Anthony out of the Orange County Jail and into a waiting SUV, Baez rode with Anthony to a parking garage where five cars driven by members of the legal team were waiting. Baez and Anthony got into one car which departed the garage at the same time as the other four. Each car drove in a different direction so reporters following Baez and Anthony wouldn't know which one they were in or where they were heading.
Baez said Anthony's first meal out of jail was a cheeseburger, fries and milkshake from Steak `n Shake. Baez and Anthony then drove to a municipal airport where a private plane took them to the Florida Panhandle resort community of St. George Island. There, members of their legal team and their families met up with them. Anthony then went to New York until she had to return to Florida to serve her probation sentence.
The three-year case took an emotional toll on Baez, according to his book. He suffered depression after the complaint was filed against him and he found it difficult to find joy in his wife's pregnancy.
Baez also criticizes the way he was portrayed in the media as an inexperienced attorney taking on one of the highest-profile criminal cases in recent memory.
"The public may have been convinced that I was an idiot but I let it all roll off my back," he writes.
The judge who presided over the trial of Casey Anthony says he believes there was enough evidence to convict the Florida mother who was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter.
The trustee overseeing Casey Anthony's bankruptcy case has filed a motion to sell the rights to her story so she can pay her debts.