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November 26, 2010


the penalty phase within a system of death

by Andrea O'Connell

Kim & Fred Goldman Source: Dateline NBC

I cannot think of a single case where the death penalty is warranted because I think the death penalty is inherently wrong in every sense.

Our United States has a system of Justice that we claim is the best in the world, and I believe it is when we allow it to work. If it is not allowed to work, as in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, then it behaves as a United States system of Judgment because justice is not served, passions are.

In the O.J. Simpson murder trial, fear of racism was served via jurors who had fame on their minds.

Clearly O.J. committed the heinous murders of the handsome Ronald Goldman and OJ’s lovely ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

For the jury, following the evidence in that case should have been so simple and yet much of the “evidence” was supplanted with exterior issues such as a racist cop writing a screen play about other racist cops; gloves that wouldn’t fit due to OJ having plastic gloves on underneath; and by all kinds of extraneous issues related to sometimes outrageous testimony and colorful courtroom characters.

All of these superfluous items took the jurors eyes off the prize and we never got to a penalty phase, though there surely should have been one.

I will never forget the look on Kim Goldman’s face when the jury read the verdict in that case.  I felt so badly for her and her family.  It was as if the jury had murdered her right then and there. It was as if death was pronounced on the family of the victims.  Well,  it was a death sentence of sorts to the families of both victims.

“What if this happens in the Anthony case?”, I often hear people say.  Well, chances are it will not.  That is if Judge Perry continues on his straight and narrow path that is today focused full steam ahead.

As required in Florida death penalty cases, the Defense is preparing to put on witnesses for a penalty phase, which comes directly after a verdict is decided.

According to news reports, the Anthony defense has until the end of this month (Tuesday) to outline its witnesses for this phase. But, very recently the defense filed a motion requesting its penalty phase witnesses be sealed due to fear of reprisal, stalking, harassment, etc., should the witnesses names be known.

I won’t be popular for saying this, but I hope the defense wins at least a gag order on this one.  I want Casey Anthony to be able to fight the death penalty with all the gusto her team can muster!

Now, I don’t believe that witnesses will be harassed or bothered to the extreme, like the motion supposes, but anything could happen with this case, and anything usually does!

Anthony penalty phase attorney, Ann Finnell, recently filed this motion to seal penalty phase witnesses and discovery, stating if the Judge cannot grant this motion, they would like a hearing on the matter.  Furthermore, Attorney Finnell argues, should the evidentiary hearing on this matter be unsuccessful, the witness list should not be made known until such time as the penalty phase of the trial begins.

The main thrust of this argument is the negative media “spin” on the case with regards to the defense of Casey Anthony – that it would scare away potential witnesses from wanting to testify.  There is some truth to this argument, in my opinion.  However, the problem here is how to balance the people’s right to know the names (on the witness list), with the rights of someone potentially sentenced to die, having been convicted of capital murder?  And then, there is also the question of the individual witnesses rights, I would think. (Perhaps witnesses are not protected – I am not quite sure.)

I think this raises some tough issues and will be a delicate one to decide.  If I were to wager on this one, I’d say that Judge Perry will err on the side of the people’s right to know and will release the names of the witnesses.  But, I do hope he is able to apply a gag order.  I think that would be a fair solution…. So says Judge Andrea!

This motion, plus a prosecution motion about defense spending, will take center stage on Monday, November 29, 2010, at 1:00 pm.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sherry
    Nov 26 2010

    I do hope that Finnell’s motion is granted considering all the nutcases out there who think what they do is for Caylee’s justice. They would indeed harass the witnesses for the defense and that could cause a mistrial.

    I agree with you that this case will not end up like OJ’s did. I can’t see how it could…

  2. Andrea
    Nov 26 2010

    Hey Sherry,

    Yes, I hope it is, too because it would only be fair to the witnesses…. but, I have this sneaking suspicion that the Judge will not weigh the witnesses needs before the defendant or the people. I am not 100% sure of that, so I do hope he will do something to balance the fact that there are nutcases out there who will pressure people.

    I really don’t think the case will end up like OJ’s either. Heck, if Scott Peterson can get convicted, then Casey Anthony can, too There’s so much more evidence against her than was against Peterson… 🙂

    • Sherry
      Nov 26 2010

      I think Casey’s trial should be compared with Scott Peterson’s, not OJ’s, but people have fears of another OJ-like conclusion.

      • Andrea
        Nov 26 2010

        yes, that’s true; a Scott Peterson comparison is very apt. OJ was a different type of animal due to his notoriety. I think, however, this trial has the potential to have the interest of an OJ case. But, then again, it may surprise us and not get the coverage that’s expected…. I wonder if the judge will try to keep the cameras out? if that is the case, it may be an entirely different story. But, I do think you’re right. people do fear an OJ-like conclusion.

        I’m with you, I don’t think a repeat of OJ will happen, especially because the defense is weak – very weak in this case – no body near Johnny Cochran-like status, or F. Lee Bailey on this case. And, the state is on the ball – they have had enough time to figure this out – I think they’re in really good shape….I sense they are really organized and will be ready for prime-time when they need to be.

        Oh man, I just loved the prosecutors in the OJ case, too…. I felt so badly for them…..

  3. sophie
    Nov 27 2010

    I do not believe in the death penalty. There’s too much margin for error, two wrongs don’t make a right, it’s too expensive to taxpayers, and the criminal, if guilty, gets off easy.

    I think it should be life in prison without possibility of parole at best. Then you have time to prove innocence if a mistake has been made. And if it hasn’t, then the prisoner has lots and lots and lots of time to pay for their crime and really, really think about what they’ve done.

    I want Casey Anthony if proven guilty, to serve a life sentence without possibility of parole. And to serve this in the general population, not getting any preferential treatment.

    • Andrea
      Nov 27 2010

      Hey Sophie, I completely agree. But, I think, if Casey does end up on the general population of the jail, it will be many years from now – when people forget her name. Today, she’d be branded as a baby killer and the jail would have to separate her from the other inmates to keep her safe from the other inmates who attack those types. So, if she does get life w/out parole, she’d be looking at isolation, too. Come to think of it, with her personality, she’d “want” to be in the general population to socialize with the other prisoners, but I tend to think it won’t happen – too big of a risk for the jail to take, unfortunately.

  4. Rob
    Nov 28 2010

    Andrea, Who caused the negative media spin? Was it not the Anthony family, and the defense? This case would have been tried a year ago, if all the players on the defense side had not decided to follow the money! The media are always looking for the next big story, and the defense ran with that premises. Mark Fuhrman said in his latest book that Caylee was never missing, and when he was invited by the Anthony’s’ to their home, in the summer of 2008, that they knew it too. They chose to feed the media one lie after another. Of course most of the cable news networks do not care if the facts are true. They care about their ratings. Now we have a simple case of murder that is a three ring circus. I only pray that when this is all over, that justice for Caylee will be served.

  5. Andrea
    Nov 28 2010

    Hey Rob,

    Yeap, you know, you’re absolutely right on point with your comments. While the defense and the Anthony’s were complaining about the Media they were also using it to their advantage – then and now – to control the “spin”.

    I agree with Mark Fuhrman and have said all along, that Caylee was never a missing child. She became a murdered child on that day after Father’s day, that terrible day in June.

    Yes, we will keep the memory of Caylee in our sights for as long as it takes. I do think that patience will grant us a Penalty Phase in this case (after the guilty verdict), but I do pray it will not be death. Not for the sake of Casey, but because I don’t believe it is justice, I believe it is Judgment, which only God should deliver.

  6. Sherry
    Nov 28 2010

    God alone should deliver the DP, yes, and in His Word He gives that responsibility to man-a life for a life. But, as you know by now what my belief is, the DP, according to God’s Word, should only be administered when there are two eye-witnesses to the evil deed. That is how precious in God’s eyes a human life is-both the one murdered and the murderer’s. Sadly, the criminal justice systems of the world that allow for the DP do not take that into account! They, imo, commit murder when they ignore God’s standards.

    • Andrea
      Nov 28 2010


      I can see how that could be fair in certain times (two witnesses) as long as there are other facts that support the eye-witness accounts, like DNA. Regardless, I still think we’re playing God when we murder for the sake of Justice.

      I think it’s murder, plain and simple. Now, if the accused begs to be killed to ease their suffering – like an assisted suicide situation i.e. Kevorkian – that would be another story altogether for me.


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