By Mike Schneider/The Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. — Casey Anthony is spending her last day in jail Saturday preparing for an uncertain future after nearly three years behind bars.
Orange County Jail officials planned to release Anthony sometime Sunday under circumstances they refused to disclose. Experts have said she’s likely to be released in the dead of night, and her defense team will try to keep her away from the glare of the media spotlight.
That could be difficult: More than a dozen television trucks already were outside the jail by noon Saturday, though the facility was otherwise quiet. Scores of reporters and cameramen are expected to be outside later on, and local television stations are going live with coverage starting late Saturday night.
One of her attorneys, Cheney Mason, said Friday that Anthony is scared to leave jail, given numerous threats on her life and the scorn of a large segment of the public that believes she had something to do with the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder in Caylee’s death earlier this month. She was found guilty of four counts of lying to police, but with time served and good behavior credits, she didn’t have to serve out her four-year sentence.
Another attorney, Charles Greene, said Friday that Anthony was “emotionally unstable” and needed “a little breathing room” after the draining two-month trial.
That could be difficult, given the vitriol directed at Anthony. After the verdict, anger spilled onto social networks like Facebook and Twitter from people who had spent weeks watching the trial on local and cable television networks. On Friday, Anthony’s legal team said it had received an emailed death threat with a manipulated photo showing the 25-year-old woman with a bullet hole in her forehead. It has been forwarded to authorities. Officials had said earlier this week that they had not received any credible threats, but they did not return a phone call about that email.
In Orlando and elsewhere, many remain convinced Anthony isn’t totally innocent. David Waechter recorded the trial and watched it at home with his wife every day after work. He said Anthony was guilty of “something, for sure.”
“I’m perplexed. You know there is something there, but you don’t know what,” he said. “Yet she is getting out.”
Others who have witnessed Anthony’s saga with front-row seats said they were ready for the media attention to die down.
“Most people I talk to, they’re done with it,” Mandy Williams, a 38-year-old county parks employee, said outside a busy grocery story. “When it came out she was not guilty, people were ticked off.”
Steven Klosterman, who owns a property management company, said if Anthony were to stay in Orlando, “I think she’ll wind up like her daughter,” given the threats she has received.
“Good luck to her,” said Klosterman, 43. “She’s going to have a hard time.”
Security experts have said Anthony will need to hole up inside a safe house protected by bodyguards, perhaps for weeks, in case someone tries to make good on one of those threats. Ideally, several SUVs with tinted windows will pull up to the jail to whisk her away, probably in the middle of the night, the experts said. Jail officials have not disclosed when she will be released.
Exactly where she will go also remains unclear. It’s unlikely she’ll return to the home she once shared with her parents, as the trial left her family fractured. Defense attorney Jose Baez argued during the trial that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and that Casey Anthony’s father, George, covered it up to make it look like a homicide. Baez also argued that George Anthony molested his daughter when she was a child — which resulted in psychological issues that caused her to lie and act without apparent remorse after Caylee went missing.
“Most of the time you can always go home, but she doesn’t have that option,” said Daniel Meachum, an Atlanta lawyer who has represented football star Michael Vick and actor Wesley Snipes. “Baez has to have somewhere for her to go for her to get herself together.”
Casey Anthony was convicted of telling detectives several lies in July 2008, when Caylee’s disappearance was reported. She said that Caylee had been kidnapped by a nonexistent nanny, among other things.
Caylee’s skeleton was found that December in some woods near the Anthony family home.
While defense attorneys argued that Caylee’s death was an accident, prosecutors alleged that Anthony suffocated her daughter with duct tape because motherhood interfered with her lust for a carefree life of partying with friends and spending time with her boyfriend. Jurors have told various media outlets that prosecutors didn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt as required for a conviction — although most have added that they don’t think Anthony is innocent.