Unlike many Americans, Clark County District Attorney David Roger did not follow the lengthy murder trial of Casey Anthony, whom a Florida jury found not guilty Tuesday afternoon of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008.
"We have enough cases here," he said, "and I quit trying to second-guess juries a long time ago. I once told a reporter I thought O.J. Simpson would be found guilty of murder, and I was wrong."
Coincidentally, the world of social media was abuzz Tuesday with reaction to the verdict, with many people comparing Anthony's case with Simpson's. And just like the public reaction to Simpson's verdict, most comments were not favorable to the 25-year-old Florida woman, who prosecutors alleged murdered her young daughter to escape the responsibilities of parenthood.
Roger said the jury was exposed to the fact that prosecutors probably would seek the death penalty, and that might have influenced jurors as well.
"You don't have physical evidence. You have a young girl as the defendant. You have the death penalty. That might have been a mistake," Roger said. "You put a lot of pressure on a jury when you seek the death penalty."
Roger said he prosecuted Rick Tabish and Sandy Murphy in the death of one-time Las Vegas casino boss Ted Binon in 1998. He said they made a decision not to seek the death penalty in that case because Murphy was a young woman.
"You do that, you're raising the bar in the minds of jurors," Roger said.
Roger also noted the defense attorneys were high-profile and media-savvy. Linda Kenney-Baden, the wife of famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who testified in the Binion case, was one of Anthony's attorneys. "They are very media-friendly."
Television's modern crime dramas might have affected jurors as well. "I speculate the jurors were not comfortable with the scientific details," said Chip Siegel, a former prosecutor now in private practice in Las Vegas. He did not watch the case closely.
Indeed, the problem of juries wanting the state to prove cases scientifically has become so pervasive that the problem has been dubbed the "CSI" effect, a reference to the "Crime Scene Investigation" shows on television.
"Everything I read was that defense attorneys had a difficult time with the case," Siegel said. "The jurors have been seasoned on all the 'CSI' shows. As science has entered the courtroom and television shows all end with the case being solved by science, all of this puts pressure on forensic experts."
While the circumstantial evidence against Anthony was significant, there was no physical evidence to link her to the crime. "I remember when my basic Power Point presentations mesmerized juries," Siegel said. "Now you have juries with preconceived ideas. They believe the state has to preserve forensic evidence."
Susan Burke has defended murder suspects for more than 25 years. "It would appear (prosecutors) failed to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," said the veteran Las Vegas lawyer, who also said she hadn't followed the case closely.
Burke said defense attorneys did a good job poking holes in what little forensic evidence the state presented.
But she also knows why so many people are upset with the verdict. "This was a very troubling case. Anytime a child is murdered, there is a very strong feeling that somebody has to pay for the crime."
Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at email@example.com or 702-224-5512.