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Merlene Davis: Casey Anthony jurors don't deserve our wrath

I think the way the jurors have been treated since rendering their verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial is despicable.

On Tuesday, 12 jurors found the young mother not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

However, Casey Anthony was found guilty of four counts of lying to police, all misdemeanors. She is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and might be freed after having served three years in jail awaiting trial.

The verdict was an unpopular decision judging by the vitriol on the Internet and on television. Instead of focusing on the lack of direct evidence or on the scientific testimony given by experts that was disputed by other witnesses, people are hanging the jury out to dry.

Those jurors are ordinary citizens like most of us who accepted their civic duty to be sequestered from their families and friends for more than a month to ensure that justice was served.

And their reward? Being called kooky, crazy and incompetent on national TV by several talking heads on the HLN network, which has seen it ratings double since the trial began.

This jury does not deserve that.

Nancy Grace, host of a prime-time show on HLN, decided years ago that Casey Anthony was guilty and screeched self-righteously any time there was a new piece of information about the case. Grace used her years as a prosecutor to convince her audience that she knew her stuff and that what she believed to be correct was correct.

And it just might be. I'm not convinced that Casey Anthony is guiltless in her daughter's death, though I haven't been fixated on the case. But even a casual observer knows there were no witnesses, no DNA evidence, no evidence of abuse by the mother, and no one confessed. The evidence is all circumstantial.

Despite that, talking heads and viewers wanted someone to pay for that child's death.

Shouldn't we be just as upset any time any child dies under strange circumstances? What makes this case so special?

I think it's because some in the media used the death of a child, the dysfunction of a family and the sympathy of viewers to gain attention. Then, when the jury didn't go along with what has been pasted into the minds of viewers for three years, they get called names. When the jurors decide to rule based on evidence produced rather than emotions manufactured, they are vilified.

They also were criticized because they didn't want to talk with reporters or have their names revealed.

Neither would I.

They knew their verdict would be controversial, but instead of caving in to public opinion, they followed the rules of law.

That was missed by Grace, who looked solemnly into the camera Tuesday night, her face displaying one of those mama looks that can strike fear in an unruly child. "Now I know, it is our duty as American citizens to respect the jury system ...," she said, not blinking. "But I know one thing, as the defense sits by and as their champagne toast after the not-guilty verdict, somewhere out there the devil is dancing tonight."

Please.

The devil dances every night and throughout the day, with the growing number of neglected, abused or murdered children serving as his music.

In 2008, when Caylee's remains were discovered, 1,494 children were homicide victims in the United States, according to the FBI. More than 452 of those were girls. The demon dancing started because we ignored the other 451 victims.

In 2010, 38,505 children younger than 18 were listed as missing by the FBI. Why aren't we concerned about that?

Grace said she felt sympathy for Caylee because she was a cute little girl. Would her sympathy have been diminished had Caylee been ugly? Were the other 451 girls killed during 2008 less cute? What is our criterion for caring?

Come on now. The jury spoke using its best judgment while fully aware that Casey Anthony was not their image of an upstanding human being.

We need to accept that the jury did not think the prosecution proved its case. Whether the verdict is accurate or not, it is final.

Now, let's concentrate on ways to keep other children from suffering the same fate as Caylee Anthony.

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