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On 24 May 2011, the trial of the State of Florida against her mother, Casey Anthony, for first degree murder began. Casey Anthony, mother of Caylee, was charged with the first degree murder of her daughter, then just two years old. She could be punished with the death penalty if she had been convicted. Casey Anthony was acquitted on July 5, 2011.
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In some ways, the Casey Anthony trial reveals the way that media influence, including the way it is presented online, affects public perception. When one looks at the pages and information that pop up when one searched for information on the trial, a great deal of attention has been given to the way that certain commentators in the media, like Nancy Grace, tried to focus on the inconsistent and, most would say, deplorable behavior of Anthony and the tragedy of the itself to draw ratings, but far fewer actually focused on the objective legal facts of the case. Thus, when someone sought to find out about the trial, whether through television outlets or online, quite often they were presented with a sensationalistic view of the case, rather than commentary that revealed the problems that the prosecution had with its case, like the lack of an established motive or cause of death, the very issues that prompted the jury to acquit. However, because these issues, or other very basic legal concepts like reasonable doubt, were not given their proper coverage during the trial, most people were outraged with the verdict and believed that the jury had been made of ignorant people, when in reality, their acquittal seems reasonable in a legal context.