Judge Belvin Perry Jr. ruled against Casey Anthony’s defense team Tuesday with regard to their motions against the death penalty portion of the trial. Â He said the defense had failed to meet the burden of proof necessary to obviate the death penalty phase. Â Should the State win a conviction against Casey Anthony for the first-degree murder of her daughter, Caylee Anthony, they could proceed with seeking the death penalty.
The State’s Attorney’s Office, however, was required to provide a list of which of the six “aggravating factors” they would use in prosecuting the Casey Anthony case. Â Although they only had to submit one, prosecutors submitted five of the six.
Under Florida law, there are fifteen aggravating factors for a jury to consider in a death penalty case. Â These aggravating factors are to be weighed against mitigating circumstances — such as a clean criminal record — that allow for mercy for the accused. Â The five aggravating circumstances presented by Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton, according to court documents, were:
1) The capital felony involved aggravated child abuse
2) It was premeditated
3) The victim was under the age of 12
4) The defendant was the victim’s parent
5) The slaying was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel
The sixth aggravating factor, which the state may or may not choose to attempt to prove is that the defendant, Casey Anthony, benefitted financially from the victim’s death.
The defense had argued that prosecutors could not prove that the alleged act of murder was heinous, because the medical examiner’s final autopsy report on Caylee Anthony had listed the cause of death as undetermined. Â The defense team had also argued that State was attempting to bankrupt their client and had only reintroduced the death penalty portion of the trial (prior to the discovery of Caylee Anthony’s remains, the death penalty had been dropped from the case against Casey Anthony) because they knew she had over $200,000 in her defense fund (money obtaining from selling the licensing rights to Casey Anthony’s photos and videos to ABC News).
Casey Anthony’s trial has been set to begin on May 9, 2011. Â She is charged with the first-degree murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, who went missing in June 2008. Â Caylee had not been seen by anyone other than her mother for a month when police were called by Cindy Anthony, Caylee’s grandmother, to investigate the disappearance of her granddaughter. Â After three months of searching for the missing child, Casey Anthony was arrested for her murder in October. Â Two months later, on December 13, Caylee Anthony’s remains were found in a wooded lot just a quarter mile from her grandparents’ home outside Orlando.