As soon as the jury proclaimed Casey Anthony “not guilty,” her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, stood up, blank-faced, and walked out of the courtroom. It was one of the few times since the trial began that the Anthonys did something I could relate to.
Just a few days earlier, Cindy Anthony attempted to convince jurors that she was the person who Google-searched “chloroform” on her home computer. When the searches were determined to have occurred during the time she was clocked in at work and logged into the company computer, she maintained her unlikely story, an obvious attempt to exonerate her daughter.
If Casey’s parents loved her enough to lie for her, there’s also no doubt that they adored their beautiful granddaughter, Caylee. Like so many other grandparents these days, they were the real parents to that little girl, providing the love and stability that their immature, partying, and selfish adult daughter wouldn’t. Casey Anthony didn’t have a job and she and Caylee lived with them — until Caylee disappeared and Casey moved in with her new boyfriend and his roommates. The Anthonys decorated their granddaughter’s room and filled their home and backyard with toys for her, including a playhouse that George Anthony built a floor onto so Caylee wouldn’t have to sit on the ground.
Like the Anthonys, my parents adore their grandkids. Like Mr. Anthony, my daddy lovingly tiled the bottom of the outdoor playhouse at their house for their grandkids. The difference between my parents and the Anthonys is that I can guarantee that if I had anything to do with the disappearance of one of my kids, or if I was lying or withholding information about my child’s whereabouts to the cops, as Casey clearly did and was found guilty of today, my parents would not be trying to help me get away with it. I am absolutely certain that they would be fully cooperating with law enforcement on behalf of their innocent grandchild.
The Casey Anthony verdict didn’t deliver justice for little Caylee. But it did give America some insight into the kind of family dysfunction and parental enabling that produces a mother like Casey: one who could move in with her boyfriend, enter a bikini contest, and get a “Bella Vita” tattoo during the time her little girl’s body was decomposing in a swamp near the family home.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the trial was when the prosecutor described the way a different mother grieved the loss of her child in an accidental drowning. Sometime after the child was buried, a big storm came. That mother ran out to her child’s gravestone to be with her because, she said, her little girl had never been alone in a storm before. That’s how someone deserving of the title “mother” grieves. Sadly, Casey will never get enough time in prison to reflect on such things.
— Rachel Campos-Duffy is author of Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood.