There are many legal lessons to be learned by comparing the Casey Anthony case to the Trayvon Martin case. Despite all the public outcry in the Casey Anthony case, there was much less evidence than in the Trayvon Martin case. The Trayvon Martin case has mounds of evidence compared to the scant circumstantial evidence available in the Anthony case. In Casey Anthony’s case, there was no direct connection to the killing of the victim, Caylee, to the alleged killer—her mother. In Trayvon’s case, we know that George Zimmerman killed him. He admitted to shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, albeit in alleged self-defense.
In the Casey Anthony case, there was no cause of death. In Trayvon Martin, we know a single gunshot wound was the cause of death. In the Casey Anthony case, there were no eyewitnesses. In Trayvon’s case, we have an audio witness, in the 911 operator who listens to Zimmerman and tells Zimmerman to refrain from following Trayvon. There have been other witnesses, among them Trayvon’s girlfriend who spoke to him by cell phone during the night of the killing.
The evidence in the Casey Anthony case amounted to partying and tattoos and a missing daughter found dead. And yet, there was probably never even a suggestion that the charges would not be brought. And the prosecutor sought the death penalty for Casey Anthony. In Trayvon’s killing, the police and prosecutors haven’t even so much as charged Zimmerman with manslaughter over a month after his murder.
Zimmerman is in hiding somewhere much like Casey Anthony. Both are in hiding due to public outcry against them. The only difference is Casey Anthony had a trial first and was found not guilty. George Zimmerman hasn’t even been charged yet and is in hiding. For all the lack of evidence in the Casey Anthony case, the prosecutor still brought charges for a jury to hear the evidence and render a verdict. And that’s exactly what the supporters of Trayvon Martin want—a jury to hear the evidence and render a verdict. So what’s the difference between the two cases?
Nancy Grace nearly prosecuted and convicted Casey Anthony in the press. Yet, she has hardly raised a whimper for Trayvon Martin. Are the lack of charges and same shortage of Grace’s coverage due to the unspoken sentiment felt by some that a life of a little white girl in Florida is worth more than a black teenager in a hoodie in Florida? Judging by how the prosecutor and police handled the two cases in such different ways, one can see how some could come to that conclusion.
The scales of justice are supposed to be equally balanced. Yet, when we compare situations like Trayvon Martin to a Casey Anthony case, we can see the scales are sometimes tilted and not weighed equally. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. Sometimes I wonder if she has sight. Justice should be fair and impartial. And killers should not be allowed to hide with the consent of the police and prosecutors. As a former felony prosecutor, I have seen injustices in the criminal system. I still hope for the system to be fair and impartial. And I hope for justice for Trayvon Martin.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and legal /political commentator appearing in national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS affiliates, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.