Controversial defense lawyer Cheney Mason said he always believed in Casey Anthony’s story ever since he met her.
Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, the attorney told Savannah Guthrie, “I do believe her story. I believed it from the first time I met her which was several weeks before I was formally on the team. I went to her home, her room where all the photographs are, and talked with her.
“I have never for one minute had any doubt at all. She did not kill her child. Period.”
While Mason and his team of defense lawyers, including lead attorney Jose Baez who has notably garnered much fame after the trial, buy Casey’s story, little is known about what really happened to 2-year-old Caylee, whose remains were found in December 2008, nearly six months after she was last seen.
However, as much as the defense has tried to portray their defendant’s innocence, the prosecution and the public have remain unconvinced. Though she was found not guilty of first-degree murder, manslaughter, and child abuse, polls indicate that many still believe Casey Anthony had something to do with her daughter’s death.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors hoped to present evidence to the jury that showed that Casey did in fact murder Caylee. They accused her of suffocating the 2-year-old with chloroform, placing duct tape over her mouth, putting her deceased body in the trunk of her car, and dumping the body in the nearby woods.
But the high levels of chloroform in the trunk of Casey’s car, the smell of “human decomposition,” and the unaffected behavior of Casey following the death of her daughter were not enough evidence for the jury, or at least beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even all of the lies that the defendant told her family and her friends after her daughter went missing left jurors still grappling for more solid evidence.
During the brief interview, Guthrie asked Mason, “If this trial proved anything beyond a reasonable doubt it’s that she is an accomplished liar. You’re a veteran defense attorney, why do you think she’s suddenly telling the truth?”
“Well I don’t know that it’s sudden,” he responded. “I don’t think her story, her position has changed from the very beginning. People’s awareness of her is certainly greater than it used to be.”
Mason continued to defend his client and stated that though there was no question she told a lot of stories to a lot of people, it was from a protective mechanism and not out of guilt of murder.
He also clarified why the defense team had asked the judge to determine whether Casey was competent to stand trial towards the end of the trial.
“She’s under a lot of pressure. Not only [was] she on trial for her life, but when she [was] not in the trial then she [was] back in lockdown. And just imagine 23 hours a day for 3 years, most people would be drooling. She’s tough, but we needed to find out if she was okay.”
“She’s not mentally ill now.”
Asked if the defense’s accusation of molestation by George Anthony was a “brilliant defense strategy or a dirty trick,” the attorney revealed that it was not the latter.
“The allegation wasn’t new in trial. It had been made in the public eye from letters written in the jail sometime before that. Sometimes evidence or testimony in trial doesn’t turn out to be what you expected it to be.”
And in other unexpected turns, Casey had also decided at the last minute to not testify during the trial. Mason said that it wasn’t because she was afraid to take the stand, however. She had just chosen not to, and was the only person who would ever know why.
Perhaps it was for the best, however, since throughout the trial much of the public had criticized Casey’s demeanor and expressions, which were cold one second and crying the next. Many felt she was putting on an act.
Though nobody coached her on her mannerisms before the court, Mason did say that he and his lawyers did try to keep her emotions down, which he explained was “pretty hard to do when family [testified] against her and people [were] calling for [her] blood like a lynch mob.”
Prosecutors tried to use testimony from her mother and father against her in court, with both Cindy and George denying the defense’s claims that they were involved in the death of their granddaughter. Casey’s parents also purportedly told the family lawyer that they did not believe in her innocence.
With obvious strains in their family, Mason told Guthrie that Casey’s relationship with Cindy and George is “pretty well burned,” though he thought that his client may one day have a relationship with her brother.
Speculation on where Casey will go after her release from prison on July 17 – less than a week away – is buzzing, with some saying that she will flee the country because of the negative reaction from the public. In a recent Gallup poll, about two-thirds of Americans believed Casey is still guilty of murder.
She, as well as Mason and her parents, have already received death threats following the jury’s not guilty verdict.
But Mason believes she won’t leave the country. “She just needs to have some time, counseling, and be reintroduced to society,” he revealed. “She’s been in lockdown for 23 hours a day, for 3 years.”