US & Canada

Casey Anthony not guilty of murder of daughter Caylee

A court in Florida has found US single mother Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter.

Prosecutors said the 25-year-old suffocated Caylee in 2008 because she kept her back from a life of partying.

At first she said the girl was kidnapped by a nanny, then at trial said she drowned in a swimming pool. But a jury cleared her of the most serious charges.

The case gripped the US since Caylee, from Orlando, Florida, vanished.

Casey Anthony was found guilty of four counts of lying to law enforcement officers and is to be sentenced on Thursday.

Anthony, wearing a pink button-down shirt and her hair tied back in a pony-tail, wept when the not guilty verdict was read.

'Reasonable doubt'

Later, Anthony hugged supporters and managed a smile as she waited in the courtroom to be fingerprinted.

Image caption Caylee was last seen alive in June 2008

Caylee's skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area about one-quarter of a mile from the family home, six months after she was last seen.

But a doctor called to give evidence was unable to give an exact cause of death, and prosecutors were unable to provide evidence linking Ms Anthony to the body.

Prosecutors called witnesses who said forensic evidence showed Anthony had carried the child's dead body in the boot of her car, and said examinations of her computer showed she had searched the internet for information about chloroform.

Defence lawyers managed to instil in the jury a sense they could not find Anthony guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" - the standard for criminal convictions in the US, analysts said.

In a news conference after the verdict was read, members of Anthony's legal team praised prosecutors as worthy and dedicated adversaries and criticised the death penalty - which could have been imposed if the most serious charge was proved.

He also attacked news media outlets and figures they said had found Anthony guilty before the case was heard.

Cheney Mason condemned "those of you who have indulged in media assassination", and attacked lawyers who appear on TV chat shows to discuss cases they "don't know a damned thing about".

"Now you've learned your lesson," he said.

Lead defence lawyer Jose Baez said the US should "take this as an opportunity to learn and to realise that you cannot convict someone until they have had their day in court."

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