Casey Anthony walked out of jail a free woman under heavy guard early today, facing shouts of “baby killer” from a heckling crowd only days after a nation in rapt attention watched as she was acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
The 25-year-old woman, who had spent years in the spotlight’s glare including two months of nationally televised trial proceedings, swiftly boarded an SUV and rode out of public view, her destination unknown as new questions unfolded as to what her future would hold.
Wearing a hot pink Polo T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, Anthony walked briskly from the Orlando area jail at 12:14 a.m. with her attorney, Jose Baez, at her side.
Her hair in a bun, a somber-looking Anthony quietly said “thank you” to a deputy sheriff waiting to escort her outside, and then strode with Baez to the vehicle as two deputies armed with semi-automatic rifles walked behind. Baez held the back door, she climbed in and the SUV drove off amid camera light flashes.
As Anthony’s SUV left the jail’s parking lot, the crowd of more than 100 people surged against the orange plastic police barricades and some yelled “You suck!” Mounted patrolmen and police cruisers blocked the street outside the jail so Anthony’s vehicle could drive onto a nearby highway ramp unobstructed.
“A baby killer was just set free!” Bree Thornton, 39, shouted at the passing SUV.
Anthony had a handful of supporters in the crowd, including one man who carried a “Casey, will you marry me” sign.
But her backers — at the jail and across the country — appeared to be vastly outnumbered by her critics.
When Anthony was acquitted July 5 of murder in the death of her toddler, hundreds of thousands of people captivated by the case — and doubtful of her credibility — poured their rage into postings on the micro-blogging site Twitter and on Facebook, which has an “I Hate Casey Anthony” group. Those and other social media sites provided a platform and a vast audience for a decibel level of vitriol seldom seen before.
Anthony’s legal team said on Friday it had received an emailed death threat with a manipulated photo showing their 25-year-old client with a bullet hole in her forehead.
Since her acquittal on murder charges, Anthony had been finishing her four-year sentence for telling investigators several lies, including an early claim that Caylee was kidnapped by a nonexistent nanny. With credit for the nearly three years she’d spent in jail since August 2008 and good behavior, she had only days remaining when she was sentenced July 7.
Casey Anthony was born in Warren in 1986 to George and Cindy Anthony, who lived in Howland before moving the family to Florida in 1989.