The high-profile case in which a 25-year-old Florida mother was accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter ended with an acquittal Tuesday, after 7 weeks of speculation and television coverage.
A Florida jury on Tuesday found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder in the June 16, 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, in a case that riveted millions since Caylee was first reported missing that year.
She was found guilty of four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
The defense had argued that Caylee died in an accidental drowning.
The prosecution said she smothered her daughter and asked for a first degree murder verdict that could have brought the death penalty for the 25-year-old.
Jurors deliberated nearly 11 hours over two days.
The jury also found Anthony not guilty of aggravated child abuse or aggravated manslaughter of a child.
After the verdict was read, Casey Anthony hugged her attorney Jose Baez and later mouthed the words "thank you" to him.
He added: "This case has brought on new challenges of all of us. Challenges in the criminal justice system, challenges in the media, and I think we should all take this as an opportunity to learn and to realize that you cannot convict someone until they've had their day in court."
Prosecutors sat solemnly in their seats, looking stunned. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton shook his head slightly from side to side in apparent disbelief. Across the room, Anthony's father wiped tears from his eyes. Without speaking to Casey, he and his wife left the courtroom escorted by police as the judge thanked the jury.
"While we're happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case," Baez said at a news conference afterward. "Caylee has passed on far, far too soon. And what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey, because Casey did not murder Caylee. It's that simple."
(image via: http://www.reuters.com/)