WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBSNewYork/CBSMiami/AP) — For the first time since she was found not guilty of murdering her child, Casey Anthony sat down for her first interview.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Anthony opened up about the trial and the last time she saw her daughter.
Anthony knows much of the world believes she killed 2-year-old daughter in 2008, even though she was acquitted in 2011.
But today, Anthony says she really doesn’t know what happened to little Caylee. She also imagines the life her little girl never got to lead.
“Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total bada**,” she told The Associated Press. “I’d like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, playing sports and not taking s**t from anybody.”
Anthony, 30, spoke in halting, sober tones. It was the first time she spoke to the news media about her daughter’s death or her years since the trial.
“I’m still not even certain as I stand here today about what happened,” she said.
Caylee was reportedly last seen on June 16, 2008. She was first reported missing by Casey Anthony’s mother on July 15.
A day later, Casey Anthony was arrested on charges of child neglect. She told police that Caylee had disappeared with a babysitter.
On Dec. 11, 2008, a utility worker in a wooded area near the Anthony home found skeletal remains that were later determined to be Caylee’s.
Casey Anthony’s criminal trial was carried live on cable networks and was the focus of daily commentaries by HLN’s Nancy Grace, who called her “the most hated mom in America,” and, derisively, “tot mom.”
Experts would testify that air samples indicated that decaying human remains had been present in Casey Anthony’s trunk. However, jurors decided prosecutors failed to establish how Caylee died, and they couldn’t find her mother’s DNA on the duct tape they said was used to suffocate her.
In the end, prosecutors proved Casey Anthony was a liar, but convinced the jury of little else.
After a trial of a month and a half, the jury took less than 11 hours to find Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.
She was convicted of four counts of lying to police (though two counts were later dropped), and served about three years in prison while awaiting trial.
She admits she lied to police: about being employed at Universal Studios; about leaving Caylee with a baby-sitter; about telling two people, both of them imaginary, that Caylee was missing; about receiving a phone call from Caylee the day before she was reported missing.
“Even if I would’ve told them everything that I told to the psychologist, I hate to say this but I firmly believe I would have been in the same place. Because cops believe other cops. Cops tend to victimize the victims. I understand now … I see why I was treated the way I was even had I been completely truthful.”
At the trial, lead defense attorney Jose Baez suggested that the little girl drowned and that Casey’s father, George Anthony, helped cover that up – and sexually abused his daughter. Her father has vehemently denied the accusations.
Asked about the drowning defense, Casey hesitated: “Everyone has their theories, I don’t know. As I stand here today I can’t tell you one way or another. The last time I saw my daughter I believed she was alive and was going to be OK, and that’s what was told to me. “
Anthony lives in the South Florida home of Patrick McKenna, a private detective who was the lead investigator on her defense team. She also works for him, doing online social media searches and other investigative work.
McKenna was also the lead investigator for O.J. Simpson when he was accused of killing his wife and acquitted; Anthony said she’s become fascinated with the case, and there are “a lot of parallels” to her own circumstances.
An Associated Press reporter met Anthony as she protested against President Donald Trump at a Palm Beach rally.
It’s unclear why Anthony agreed to speak to the AP. She later texted the reporter, asking that the AP not run the story.
Among other things, she cited the bankruptcy case in which she has been embroiled since 2013: “During the course of my bankruptcy, the rights to my story were purchased by a third party company for $25k to protect my interests. Without written authorization from the controlling members of this company, I am prohibited from speaking publicly about my case at any time.”
In addition, she said she had violated a confidentiality agreement with her employer, and remains under subpoena and subject to deposition in her bankruptcy case.
Yet she had participated in five on-the-record interviews over a one-week period, many of them audiotaped.
She still dreads the supermarket checkout line for fear she’ll see photos of her daughter on the cover of tabloid papers. Her bedroom walls are decorated with photos of Caylee and she weeps when she shows off her daughter’s colorful, finger-painted artwork.
Occasionally she goes out with friends to area bars. But news of her presence spreads quickly; people whispering and snap photos, and she retreats to her newly purchased SUV so she can return home, alone.
Anthony speaks defiantly of her pariah status.
“I don’t give a s**t about what anyone thinks about me. I never will,” she said. “I’m OK with myself. I sleep pretty good at night.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families did conclude that Anthony was responsible for the girl’s death due to her “actions or lack of actions.”
Just this month the former trial judge in the case theorized Anthony may have killed Caylee accidently by using chloroform to calm her.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)