A year later, 'Caylee's Law' a reality in many states - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

A year later, 'Caylee's Law' a reality in many states

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At least seven states have enacted legislation in honor of Caylee Anthony, who died in 2008. (Source: CNN) At least seven states have enacted legislation in honor of Caylee Anthony, who died in 2008. (Source: CNN)
Casey Anthony, acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, walked out of a Florida jail nearly two weeks after her trial wrapped. (Source: CNN). Casey Anthony, acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, walked out of a Florida jail nearly two weeks after her trial wrapped. (Source: CNN).

(RNN) - A year after Casey Anthony walked free on charges she killed her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, the ripple from the case - and the acquittal - still swells across the collective conscience of the nation.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of a jury acquitting Anthony on charges of first degree murder, the verdict met with much public backlash, criticism and even death threats against the then 25-year-old.

Anthony didn't report her daughter's 2008 disappearance for 31 days, prompting at least seven states in the year since the acquittal to enact some measure of what's become known as Caylee's Law.

While the laws vary by state, most make it a crime for caretakers to fail to report the disappearance or death of a child within a certain period of time.

New Jersey became the first state to pass Caylee's Law, which makes failing to report a child's disappearance within 24 hours a felony crime and punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

Anthony's home state of Florida enacted HB 37, making it a felony to "knowingly and willfully [give] false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation" involving a minor. 

While exonerated on murder charges, the jury did convict Anthony on four counts of lying to law enforcement, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison per count.

Had the statute been in place at the time, she could have received 20 years in jail, instead of the maximum four she received.

Other states to pass similar legislation include Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Kansas, with lawmakers in dozens of states filling similar bills, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.

Anthony has kept a low profile since leaving jail, shying away from the media and the public and remaining in hiding.

In June, she finally surfaced, giving an unrecorded phone interview to CNN's Piers Morgan, telling him "I am ashamed, in many ways, of the person I was," but insisting she didn't kill her daughter.

"If anything, there's nothing in this world I've ever been more proud of, and there's no one I loved more than my daughter," Anthony said to Morgan. "She's my greatest accomplishment."

When asked about her regrets, Morgan quoted her as saying, "I didn't trust law enforcement because of my relationship with my father, who was ex-law enforcement himself. I didn't give them the benefit of the doubt, which is part of the reason they didn't give me the benefit of the doubt."

During the trial, the prosecution painted Anthony as a party girl who went to clubs while her daughter was missing.

They argued that Anthony suffocated Caylee with duct tape after using chloroform to induce unconsciousness. Anthony, they said, then drove the body around for days before ultimately disposing of it a wooded area near her family home.

Anthony initially told 911 operators her daughter was last seen with a fictitious nanny named Zanaida Gonzalez. But, in her trial, the defense argued that Caylee drowned in a family pool and her death went unreported for a month.

"She never was missing," argued Anthony lawyer Jose Baez. "Caylee loved to swim, and Caylee could get out of the house very easily and did so on that day."

Anthony was sentenced to time served for her conviction of lying to law enforcement and was released less than two weeks after the trial ended. 

She is currently serving probation on unrelated charges. Her probation will end on Aug. 27, 2012.

Anthony still faces a defamation lawsuit by the real Zanaida Gonzalez. Gonzalez claims she doesn't know Anthony and never kept Caylee, but that her reputation was damaged when Anthony used her name, telling authorities she kidnapped Caylee.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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