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February 27, 2011


murder on a sunday morning

by Andrea O'Connell

If you don’t mind humoring me… I haven’t all of a sudden lost my mind or given allegiance to the Anthony defense team, I promise!  However, I want to share with you some interesting facts I have learned about Ann E. Finnell, attorney on the Casey Anthony defense team.  Perhaps you have already looked into her background and already know about her credentials?  Or, maybe you are like me and hadn’t looked her up or given her much thought.

I am incredibly impressed by what I have learned about her and her work.

A documentary about a case that Ann Finnell and her associate Pat McGuinness tried in 2000, won an Academy Award for best Featured Documentary in 2001.  And this was no ordinary case, I promise you.  This was a case in which a young man, all of 15 years old, was plucked off the street, in Jacksonville, Florida, for no other reason than walking down the street while black “walking while black.”  It is a terrible story of corrupt Jacksonville police taking this young man, and like sculptors, carving out false and tragically lackadaisical evidence – making it falsely fit him.

The young man’s name is Brenton Butler, a handsome and bright looking kid who spent, I believe, nearly 6 months in jail for a crime he did not commit.  Brenton was being charged as an adult in this case, and police thought they had their man – they literally beat a false confession out of the young man.

The crime was murder.  A couple, visiting from Georgia and stopping on their way to South Florida, were just leaving the Ramada Inn with coffee in hand.  As the couple emerged from their hotel room, a skinny and tall black man approached the woman to steal her purse.  The coffee she was holding sprayed the man.  It infuriated him and he shot her in the head, killing her.

The police arrived, and in their initial investigation of the scene, the victim’s husband told the cops the perpetrator was a skinny black man.

At about that time, Brenton Butler was walking on the sidewalk, on his way to fill out an application to work for the nearby Blockbuster video store. He never made it there.

The police, having just heard the victim’s husband say a skinny black man was responsible, when they saw Brenton, pounced.  They put Brenton in the back seat of their patrol car and asked the husband of the victim if he recognized Brenton.  “Yes, that’s him,” the man said.  The witness positively identified Brenton Butler as the gunman.  From that moment on, what Brenton Butler suffered in the hands of these corrupt and despicable law enforcement officers would make your skin crawl.

Two detectives interrogated Brenton for 12 hours, they beat him, they would not allow him to see his parents, or a lawyer, they denied him food, they denied him every one of his constitutional rights.  They were good ole boys enjoying themselves as they tortured a 15 year old child.

Anne Finnell and Pat McGuinness saved this child’s life. He was found not guilty.  And, soon afterward, Anne Finnell’s partner, Pat McGuinness, had a hand if finding the real killer.

Brenton Butler is a grown man now and has written a book about his experience called, “They Said it Was Murder.”

Ms. Finnell is currently in private practice, in Jacksonville, Florida.  She is still working as partner with Pat McGuinness, who was given great accolades for his work in the film.

Below is the first part of the film you can watch on your computer.   Here is the link to all of the twelve parts of the film. This is the best way to keep all the parts of the film within easy reach.

I remember seeing this film, but I had long forgotten it and the story and the characters.   I never recognized Ann Finnell as “the” wonderful lawyer in that film.

I  have always had a great deal of respect for Defense Attorneys; we would not have a free society without them.  That is why I get so incensed at the lack of scruples shown by Jose Baez.

I wonder how Ann Finnell can stomach the antics of Jose Baez, but then I think, maybe it’s because of Jose Baez that she took this case – hoping to save a young woman from the death penalty, as Baez, in my view, is walking Casey Anthony right down the path to the chair.  I can’t begin to know what her reasons are for taking this case.  I only know that when the time comes for the penalty phase, Casey will be in very capable hands.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Molly
    Feb 27 2011

    I remember mason saying he begged her to come on board. i think she keeps herself somewhat separate from b&m & just does her thing.

  2. Venice
    Feb 28 2011

    Junk Science, huh???
    A woman in Montana killed her baby boy and let him decompose in her car trunk for weeks. She plead guilty right before the trial!!

    • Feb 28 2011

      OMG, Venice! Thank you for this link…. the parallels to the Anthony case are amazing…. wow! Yeah, hah! Junk science? I don’t think so!

      • Venice
        Feb 28 2011

        and cause of death was never determined!

  3. Feb 28 2011

    Although I at first felt she joined the team solely for publicity, Ms. Finnell has conducted herself with dignity and grace, to date. She brings a professionalism to the courtroom which is severely lacking when only Baez and Mason are present. She addresses the court in the proper fashion and argues her motions with obvious experience. I have been somewhat disappointed by what seemed to be a lack of intimate knowledge with this case during her first couple of hearings, but I feel she may have been misled by or has been too trusting of the dynamic duo, one of whom always seems confused about the facts and the other who is never prepared to speak about the facts. If she did not follow this case prior to joining, reading the lengthy series of motions filed by the defense would have given her a false impression of the case and the defendant.

    • Feb 28 2011

      Hi Bullstopper! How good of you to stop by and share your fantastic insight… Yes, I agree that she has shown pure professionalism, and it was nice that the State thanked her in open court recently for complying with deadlines. (If you haven’t seen that movie, it may be worth while to give it a look.)
      And, boy, you’re right about some of those meandering motions by the Defense. A good percentage their motions just go in circles and rarely resemble a legal document. I get so mad, Bullstopper, when I read their motions! I can only imagine how Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane-Burdick (who both write so well) feel.

  4. katydid
    Feb 28 2011

    I do appreciate your nice comments about Ms. Finnell. She is my cousin and an excellent attorney as well as a wonderful person.

    • Venice
      Feb 28 2011

      You can easily tell she is ethical and honest! I like her, and I think she is good for Casey 🙂

    • Feb 28 2011

      Hi Katydid! Wow! Thank you for sharing that – how lucky you are. I remember now seeing the film, but it was so long ago, I’d forgotten all of the details, but I do remember being in awe of Ann Finnell and her partner… it was a very powerful film and the two of them were incredible. It’s funny, she looked familiar to me when I first saw a picture of her in the courtroom in the Anthony case, but I didn’t place her as being “that” attorney who was so good and so passionate.
      Anyway, thank you for your post! It is a blessing that Ann is there for Casey. I am so afraid of the death penalty in this case, but I thank heaven for folks like Ann who work so hard to keep it from being imposed. It needs to be banished. There are third world countries that ban it, but not us. It makes my blood boil, Katydid…. Thank heaven, again, for people like Ann.

  5. maxineme
    Feb 28 2011

    I agree with your post, She does come across as reputable, and owning integrity. , I think she must have owed a favor to mason and he called it in……
    She has conducted herself beyond reproach and above board.. I really hope she can continue to do her legal work and stay removed from the unprofessional, slippery, clown activities of Boaz and Mason…
    I admit , when she first came on, I thought she must be like the “others”…. She is NOT.

    • Feb 28 2011

      Hi Maxineme….Welcome! 🙂 I am sorry that you were in the moderation queue – I only just noticed that your comment was there! Next time that you post, you’re comment will go right through.
      You know, it could be that she owed one to Cheney and he called it in. That could be how she got involved. I have a feeling that she won’t allow herself to be caught up in the hype or the drama. So far she seems to be able to focus on what she needs to focus on – getting the death penalty off the minds of the jurors in this case. She is absolutely someone I’d want on my side, fighting for me. Casey is very lucky to have her….

  6. Mar 1 2011

    I have always liked her. I don’t feel she is all that impressed with Baez and Co. I feel she will be good for Casey also.


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