Casey Anthony Appeal Reduces Lying Convictions
(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A Florida appeals court has overturned two of Casey Anthony's four lying convictions for misleading authorities, including claiming that her daughter Caylee had been abducted by a fictitious nanny.
The court ruling will have no effect on Anthony's punishment for lying since she has already served her sentence and probation, but it could open the door for her to testify in a civil suit still pending against her.
Anthony, 26, was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in 2011, but she was convicted on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement, stemming from her initial statements to detectives.
Anthony falsely told police in 2008 that her missing daughter had been kidnapped by a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez. Police and others searched for months for the missing girl. Anthony later claimed her daughter had drowned.
Anthony, who has been dubbed the most hated woman in America and has been in hiding since her release from jail, was not at the hearing at the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The appeals court was asked to decide whether Anthony was in police custody when she made the statements that led to her convictions and whether she should have been charged with four separate counts of lying.
Anthony's attorneys argued that double jeopardy principles prevent her for being convicted for more than one violation, saying that the various false statements constituted a single offense, according to the court ruling.
The court ruling said the prosecution’s was that each statement was a separate offense so there was no double jeopardy.
The court ruling stated, "We reject both parties' arguments and conclude that under the facts of this case. Appellant can properly be convicted of two counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation."
The court concluded that Anthony made the four false statements during her interview with Orange County Sheriff's Detective Yuri Melich at her family's home.
Hours later, she repeated two of the lies to Melich at an interview at Universal Studios, where she falsely claimed she worked.
"Appellant gave false information to Detective Melich during two separate interviews that took place several hours apart," the court ruling said. "Where there is a sufficient temporal break between two alleged criminal acts so as to have allowed a defendant time to pause, reflect, and form a new criminal intent, a separate criminal episode will be found to have occurred."
The court did reject Anthony's attorneys' claim that she was under arrest when she lied to authorities and had not been read her Miranda Rights.
Anthony was briefly handcuffed, but was quickly released and voluntarily remained to answer questions, the court said.
The outcome of this criminal appeal could impact Anthony's pending civil suit from Zenaida Gonzalez, a woman who shared a name with the fictional nanny Anthony claimed had taken her daughter.
Gonzalez is suing Anthony for defamation, saying she was damaged by the use of her name. Gonzalez says she lost her job and was evicted from her house as a result of Anthony's tale. The two women did not know each other.
Gonzalez's attorney Matt Morgan told ABC News on Jan. 8 that it was "critical" to their case because, "At this junction, we have been unable to get testimony from Casey Anthony...because she has been hiding behind the shield of the fifth amendment."
Anthony's appeal on the criminal charge allowed her to plead the fifth so that she does not incriminate herself in her criminal case.
If the state does not appeal to the Supreme Court, Anthony could eventually be forced to answer questions about Caylee in the civil trial.
"We expect that her criminal appeal will hopefully be resolved and she will no longer have protection for the fifth amendment to hide behind," Morgan said.
Morgan hopes that the civil trial will be able to proceed in the late spring or early summer.
Anthony completed her one-year probation for check fraud in August, leaving her free to go wherever she pleases. She resurfaced a few times over the past year via a leaked video diary and a telephone conversation with Piers Morgan, but has otherwise succeeded in disappearing from the public eye.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio