ORLANDO, Fla. – Casey Anthony was freed from a Florida jail early today, 12 days after she was acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in a verdict that drew furious responses and even threats from people across the U.S. who had followed the case with rapt attention.
Anthony, wearing a pink T-shirt with blue jeans, left the jail at 12:14 a.m. with her attorney, Jose Baez. After three years behind bars, Anthony was given $537.68 in cash from her jail account and escorted outside by two sheriff’s deputies armed with semi-automatic rifles. Neither Anthony nor Baez said anything to reporters and protesters gathered outside.
“It is my hope that Casey Anthony can receive the counseling and treatment she needs to move forward with the rest of her life,” Baez said in a statement released to reporters.
News helicopters briefly tracked the SUV through Orlando’s streets, but she quickly slipped from public view.
Before her release, law enforcement officials put up plastic barricades around the jail’s booking and release center, and about seven or eight deputies wearing bullet-proof vests patrolled the area.
As midnight approached, upward of 100 spectators had gathered outside the jail. The crowd included about a half-dozen sign-carrying protesters who had gathered despite a thunderstorm that dumped heavy rain over Orlando.
“This release had an unusual amount of security so, therefore, in that sense, it would not be a normal release,” said Orange County Jail spokesman Allen Moore.
Moore said there were no threats received at the jail.
Anthony, 25, had been finishing her four-year sentence for telling investigators several lies, including that Caylee was kidnapped by a nonexistent nanny. With credit for the nearly three years she’s spent in jail since August 2008 and good behavior, she had only days remaining when she was sentenced July 7.
The case drew national attention ever since Caylee was reported missing. Vitriol poured into social networking sites when Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder.
As for her plans, it’s not clear where Anthony will stay or what she will do next. Her relationship with her parents, George and Cindy, has been strained since defense attorneys accused George Anthony of molesting Casey when she was young. They also said George Anthony made Caylee’s death look like a homicide after the girl accidentally drowned in the family pool.