Casey Anthony shocked the nation when she walked away from charges that she killed her young daughter Caylee, but the man who helped the Florida mom at trial said it was a carefully crafted plan that got her acquitted.
Richard Gabriel is one of the foremost trial consultants in the nation, working on high profile cases like O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector. His job is to work with defense teams to find out what the weak points might be at trial and what it would take for juries to vote for acquittal.
In his new book, Acquittal, Gabriel explains how he took the media firestorm surrounding Casey Anthony and actually used it to her advantage.
Gabriel said he realized early that there was little anyone could do to temper the hatred that much of America felt for Anthony. But given the intense feelings toward her, Gabriel thought “we may be able to harness the hysteria and use it to our advantage” by taking the sheer volume of tabloid information and making it difficult for jurors to tell what was real and what was sensationalized.
In a review of Acquittal, the New York Post notes that at first Gabriel didn’t understand just how deeply hatred for Casey Anthony ran among Americans.
“I have never run across a stronger or more palpable anger than I encountered in this case,” he writes. “There is frustration anger and there is betrayal anger. This was an anger born of deep hurt. It was personal.”
Gabriel recommended that lawyers try to have the case dismissed, believing that the media coverage had ruined Anthony’s changes of a fair trial. When that failed, he suggested that lawyers try to move the case out of her hometown of Orlando. That failed as well, but a judge did decide that a jury would be sent in from an undisclosed Florida city.
With the details of the trial set, Gabriel set up a mock jury to understand the strongest aspects of the prosecution’s case. Through that mock trial, the defense learned that jurors were wary of the prosecution’s lack of DNA evidence and the air sampling taken from Anthony’s trunk, where her daughter’s body was kept.
All 12 jurors initially believed Casey Anthony was guilty, but at the end of the mock trial only three said they would convict her.
Using this information, the defense team presented a case that Caylee Anthony died of an accidental drowning and that Casey tried to cover it up.
Though she was acquitted, Casey Anthony remains despised by a vast majority of Americans. Polls have consistently found her to be the most hated people in the country, and she continues to make headlines, like a sale last year of some of her memorabilia.