I'm not going to say that it was the hardest case I ever covered, I can go years - apparently - without thinking of this particular case that I covered at the tail end of summer 2001 and into fall 2002. But today, as news of Casey Anthony's acquittal flashes across my computer screen - I think about a 13-month-old boy who drowned in a bathtub after his father left him there. The dad was surfing porn and downloading music off the Internet, not knowing that his actions would have tragic consequences.
Looking at the two cases is like comparing apples and oranges. Both are hideous crimes against children, but for the 13-month boy in my case - there was no elaborate cover up. The efforts of my town's EMTs and police officers tried to unsuccessfully revive the boy. The father was later convicted and although I don't remember all of the details of his sentence, one of the conditions was to write a letter to his son every year on the anniversary of his death for five years. That would have ended in 2007 or 2008.
Out of curiosity, I Google'd the name of this former defendant that I had known. He's still out there (he was only in his early 20s when his son's death had occurred) and the picture on his Facebook are of his two current children. I cannot say that they are cute - this is going to sound really bitchy, but the girl looks kind of goofy and the baby needs to grow into its face in that way that new babies do. But I hope that this fellow is now a good father. I need to believe that people learn ...
Is Casey Anthony guilty? It has always appeared so to me, but I haven't hung onto her case with the breathless anticipation that 25% of America did. I am now waiting for the announcement of a tell-all book that will net Casey Anthony a few million dollars and the made-for-TV movie that will star some C-list actress as the party-mom-turned-model-defendant. (With that long ponytail, I've been finding myself thinking more and more of the Mormon hairstyles on "Big Love." Seriously, that goes through my head.)
My cynicism when it comes to people like Casey Anthony ... it truly knows no bounds. I won't even write the snarky thought that went through my head when I saw that my former defendant had sprung two more children from his loins. (OK - yeah, I will ... I was thankful to see that they looked alive.)
But my cynicism stops when I think about the victims in these cases. Caylee, a Florida toddler and Logan, a 13-month-old who came from a very tumultuous relationship ... you're in a better place. The rest of us will remember you with love in our hearts. And we will continue to shake our heads at the people who brought you here in the first place.