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The Ultimate Betrayal: The Murder Trial of Casey Anthony

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 10/14/2014

Her family destroyed by the toddler's death, the story of Caylee Anthony gripped the entire nation and world. We ponder the lack of maternal instinct and care, a missing child and grandparents raising grandchildren.

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    Who is our greatest ally in life, the one we can depend on for comfort and support no matter the situation? Our mother is, of course. Why so? Maternal instinct causes a mother to love, protect and foster growth in her children. This reliability makes children trust that their mother will support and protect them.

    The word “mother" collectively comes with expectations and obligations including to claim, mold and protect the child. In America, women pregnancy silhouette by Mahalie on Flickr want to bear a child of their genes. It is a biological connection to their offspring. For most, there is a sense of pride and well-being that comes with birth.

    Mothers have an attachment to their babies; babies have the same mutual affection for their mothers. This is said to be through the newborn’s affinity to the mother’s voice and scent. There is an innate trust for a mother by her infant, which somehow knows the one who gave it life will continue to do so. Yet 200 children are killed by their own mothers each year; most of whom do not make national headline news.

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    Missing Child Unreported

    In comes the Casey Anthony murder trial. Said to be the trial most watched by women; mothers cannot grasp that Casey would not report Caylee, just a 2-1/2 year old toddler, missing for 31 days. Shock spread through America. It screams neglect at the very least.

    As interest grew in the story, deceptive and very dramatic lies about the whereabouts of Caylee emerged; she was at the beach with the nanny; an amusement park with the nanny; abducted by the fictitious nanny. In truth, Casey had neither a job nor a nanny. Yet this little child was not with her mother or grandparents while Casey frolicked with her friends. Intrigued, as if watching some sort of bizarre movie, the public waited for the next twist in the scene; all-the-while hoping the worst was not yet to come.

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    It’s unfathomable to those who love, nurture and protect their children how this could happen. It causes abhorrence toward Casey, particularly from women. Even animals in the wild protect their young and teach them to survive. Instead of mother, she has been called names such as monster, baby killer and tot mom in the media; accused of no longer deserving of the title, mommy.

    Her behavior was contrary to the very fiber of motherly instincts and gnaws deep within the heart and conscious of a mother. To hear the defense in the trial announce an accidental drowning makes the story all the more difficult to believe. Why was it allowed in the courts that her dad be accused when he was not the one arrested for the crime? All the public wants to know is, what happened to little Caylee?

    Although it is terrible, tensions would have been relieved if Casey admitted to wrongdoing, if she knows what happened. She would not be liked; she might be publicly scorned, but honesty can be embraced and lies forgiven. This is the reason people become inflamed at Casey, while others become seemingly sympathetic. Some loathe the lies and others think there must be some serious psychological issues; everyone is conflicted about her.

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    Grandparents as Parents

    Today we have the largest ever generation of grandparents raising grandchildren. Why is that? A few reasons are to buffer the effects of divorce or single-parenthood; to keep the child or children from going into foster care; to keep children from potential harm from an abusive or mentally unstable parent, providing a home-like environment for the child. Does this phenomena have to do with the spoiling of Generation Y? After all many kids in this generation are seemingly unable to raise their own children.

    On the other hand, parents do not willingly share control of their child. Sharing that control with another family member or person is interpreted as losing control. Cindy Anthony posted on MySpace a few days after she found out that Caylee was gone. “All I am guilty of is loving her (Caylee) and providing her a safe home. Jealousy has taken her away." This is what makes the public wonder about the family dynamics and conflict between them. Ultimately, these grandparents who did everything for their granddaughter lost it all and have had their lives forever altered and disrupted.

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    Condemned but Not Guilty

    Casey Anthony underwent trial by the public, and the public expressed outrage over the verdict. When asked, most people found her to be responsible. They will be the hardest jury to dissuade, but were not the ones to ultimately decide. The jury determined that there was no crime other than four counts of lying to the police. On the Today Show, Jeff Ashton concedes, but adds that the public will never know what happened to Caylee.

    Whether this trial was about a pattern of dysfunctional mothering, narcissism, spoiling, conflict with parents or a combination of things, the public can only speculate. The fact remains that the young life of Caylee Marie Anthony has been cut short as the world struggles to understand why. One thing everyone would agree upon is that the death of Caylee Marie Anthony will be forever seared in their hearts.

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    Added Resources

    Sault, Nicole. Role of Mothers and Fathers, on the Santa Clara University website.

    Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, University of Missouri website.

    Tension Between Mothers and Daughters, Penn State University website.

    CC image by Mahalie on Flickr