Monday afternoon I was sitting at the bar of the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans watching HLN. The closing arguments in the Casey Anthony trial...
Monday afternoon I was sitting at the bar of the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans watching HLN. The closing arguments in the Casey Anthony trial had been made and the jury was deliberating whether the mother had killed Caylee, her 2-year-old daughter, by dosing her with chloroform, suffocating her with duct tape, and dumping her in a wooded area, as prosecutors claimed.
I’d been haphazardly following the soap opera-esque trial, filled with more dramatic twists than the entire 41-year-run of "All My Children." (Examples: the mother didn’t report the kid missing for 31 days, and initially insisted that a non-existent babysitter, Zenaida, had abducted the child. And she also tatted “bella vita” (aka “beautiful life” on her shoulder—less than a month after her kid had disappeared.)
I wondered aloud to my companion, “Why is this 24-hour news?” Not to be obtuse, but in 2008, the year Caylee was killed, 1,500 children died as a result of homicide. Why is this case the one that garners OJ-like interest and no one involved is a celebrity or rich or even blonde?
“She’s pretty, the kid’s cute… and they’re both still White,” my companion noted.
Oh, of course.
Less than 24 hours after my offhand, bar stool chat, the jury returned with an unexpected verdict in the Anthony case: not guilty of first-degree murder or manslaughter. Anthony was, however, found guilty on four counts of lying to the police.
Talking heads, Twitter, and seemingly everyone else but Anthony and her lawyer, simultaneously went nuts. Star Jones, an attorney, did her best to remain neutral, tweeting, “I believe in the jury system and accept [the] verdict... but I can't take smiles from Casey Anthony right now. She may be [not guilty] but her baby is dead!“ Terry McMillan was less diplomatic, summing up the popular response: “This is as messed up as O.J…. Reasonable doubt my ass.”
Many other tweeters vented their frustration by comparing Casey Anthony to Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes), the drug lord from New Jack City who escaped charges of masterminding a criminal conspiracy, and was subsequently killed in the courthouse by an outraged citizen.
“Anyone else feeling like Ice-T when Nino Brown was found not guilty?” several people wrote. “I wonder if there's an old guy outside the courthouse waiting to pull a Nino Brown on Casey Anthony?” others quoted.
As folks Black and White alike shared their outrage over the verdict and the unresolved death of an innocent, an interesting trend emerged from Black respondents. Most wondered how it was possible for Mike Vick to be sentenced for two years for killing dogs, for Plaxico Burress to stupidly shoot himself in the foot and get a 24-month sentence, but yet so many signs point to a woman killing her kid (admittedly there were holes in the prosecution’s story), and she… walks? (Her sentencing for lying to the police is set for 9AM Thursday.)
"America has the greatest justice system in the world,” Nino Brown boasted, leaving the courtroom. I wonder what Casey Anthony will say tomorrow. Surely she has to think the same thing.
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter: @abelleinbk