Court hears Casey Anthony appeal on lying charges

By Amanda Evans, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 09, 2013, 10:30 AM EST
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There's no doubt she lied when she told detectives her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, had been kidnapped by a babysitter. But a state appellate court panel must now decide whether she was in police custody when she made those statements.

Three judges heard 15 minutes of testimony from both sides of the case Tuesday afternoon at the Fifth District Court of Appeals, in Daytona Beach.

Casey Anthony was not in court Tuesday. Representing her was attorney Lisabeth Fryer, accompanied in court by Cheney Mason. Both were key players in her 2011 murder trial.

Assistant state Attorney General Wesley Heidt represented the state.

While Casey was acquitted of her daughter's murder in 2011, the jury still found her guilty on four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

The big question at Tuesday's hearing wasn't if Casey lied, but whether she was in custody at the time.

Both sides recalled the events from July 2008, just after Caylee Anthony was first reported missing. They went through Casey's lies to Orange County detectives:

  1. That she was employed at Universal Studios at the time,
  2. That she left Caylee with a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez,
  3. That she told two alleged co-workers that Caylee was missing, and
  4. That she had talked to Caylee on the phone the day before she was reported missing.

The state said she knew what she was doing, lying again and again, even as her story unraveled.

But Fryer argued she had not been read her Miranda rights, including her right to remain silent.

Heidt claimed though Casey was with detectives at the time, they had not yet arrested her, so there was no reason to read her Miranda rights -- even though, as one judge pointed out, she was being interrogated.

"It was a classic, textbook interrogation that was going on," said District Judge Vincent Torpy Jr. "The only question is whether she was in custody."

The judges did not make a decision on the appeal Tuesday. That ruling could take weeks.

If the judges decide Casey was in police custody, they could overturn her convictions on the grounds that her statements were inadmissible, since she hadn't been read her rights.

Whatever the outcome, it will have a direct impact on Casey's upcoming civil trial involving the real Zenaida Gonzalez, who is suing Anthony for defamation.

Gonzalez's lawyer, Matt Morgan, said Casey's lie ruined his client's life.

"Even now, to this day, people still believe that Zenaida may have had something to do with the disappearance," Morgan said. "There's a lot of conspiracy theorists out there."

Though Casey Anthony will have to answer questions in her during her civil trial, she has refused to answer deposition questions from Gonzalez's lawyers, because her defense claims any answers could jeopardize her appeal.

That prompted lawyers on both sides of the civil case to have that trial, which had been set to begin Jan. 2, delayed until after the appeal is resolved.

But if the three-judge panel decides Casey Anthony's lies don't stand up in court because she wasn't read her rights, she could walk away from it all.