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Lawyers: Casey Anthony has grounds to appeal conviction on charges of lying to police

Florida attorneys following Casey Anthony trial see issues that could spark appeal of her conviction

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel

7:49 PM EDT, July 5, 2011

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Will Casey Anthony — cleared by a jury of killing her daughter — appeal her conviction on charges she lied to deputies who were trying to find her child?

There certainly are grounds, said Florida attorneys who have followed the case.

Nancy McClintic, an Orlando defense attorney, pointed to the numerous in-court disputes between lawyers that ended up in private discussions with the judge.

"When you have that many sidebars, that means you have that many issues that are possible appellate issues," McClintic said.

Anthony's conviction on four counts of providing false information to deputies stems from lies she told when questioned about her daughter, Caylee Marie, who had been missing for more than a month.

She insisted the toddler was with a nanny who did not exist and lied about working at a job she never had.

Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr. let jurors hear those lies, even though Anthony had not been advised at the time that she had a right to remain silent or that she had a right to an attorney.

Courts have long held that a suspect's statements can be used against her at trial, even if she has not been read her rights, so long as she made them before she was arrested or taken into custody.

According to testimony, Anthony was not officially in custody, even though a deputy put her in handcuffs and later removed them.

"I don't think his ruling on the Miranda warnings was a surprise, but I think most observers thought it was a very close call," said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in South Florida now in private practice.

Defense attorneys also could ask for the conviction to be overturned because Perry let jurors hear a good deal of evidence that portrayed Anthony as a party girl who went out dancing while her daughter was missing and got a tattoo that says "Bella Vita."

The state was trying to show, said South Florida attorney Dan Lurvey, that her behavior was inconsistent with a mother who is covering up the accidental drowning of her child — a defense claim.

It was "more of a character assassination than evidence of commitment of a crime," he said.

Had Anthony been found guilty of killing her daughter, attorneys predicted a slew of challenges: on never-before-admitted scientific odor evidence; on the testimony of an FBI expert who said a single strand of hair found in Anthony's car trunk belonged to Caylee; and on the judge's decision not to end the trial once prosecutors had finished their case, said Bill Scheaffer, case analyst for WFTV-Channel 9.

In his 22 years on the bench, Perry has been reversed or overruled 34 times by the 5th District Court of Appeal or Florida Supreme Court, according to an appeals review by the Orlando Sentinel.

Staff writer Susan Thompson contributed to this report. rstutzman@tribune.com or 407-650-6394.