U.S. News

Price tag for Casey Anthony case near $700,000

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - The Casey Anthony murder investigation and trial cost taxpayers almost $700,000, based on new tallies on Friday from the major agencies involved in the case.

Prosecutors are seeking reimbursement from Anthony, 25, who was acquitted July 5 of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Casey Anthony was convicted of four charges of lying to detectives in 2008 and leading them astray from the first day of the investigation into the fate of the missing toddler.

A hearing is scheduled for August 25 at which trial judge Belvin Perry will decide how much of the bill Anthony must pay.

Although Anthony was declared indigent for purposes of her legal fees, rumors abound of possible high-priced book deals and paid interviews that could bring the infamous single mother a small fortune.

The single largest bill was $293,123 from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which released its figures Friday. Even that includes only costs of the criminal investigation division from the time Caylee’s grandmother reported her missing to the discovery five months later of her remains.

Many other expenses could not be fairly isolated, according to an accounting by Lieutenant Paul Zambouros.

“An incredible amount of manpower was deployed and over 6,000 tips were received requiring extensive man hours,” Zambouros wrote in his report.

Also reported Friday was the $186,903 expended by the court clerk to select a jury, and to house and feed the 12 jurors and five alternate jurors sequestered throughout the nearly seven-week trial.

The prosecutor’s office previously reported expenses of $91,000 on the case. And, after Anthony was declared indigent for legal fees, taxpayers paid $119,000 for defense expenses requested by her lawyer, according to the state Justice Administrative Commission.

The whereabouts of Anthony, released from jail on July 17, and details of how she is supporting herself are not publicly known.

The Anthony case riveted the nation for three years, first during a nationwide search for the missing Caylee and, later, as evidence piled up about Casey Anthony’s many lies, the strong odor of decomposition in her car trunk, and her inappropriate behavior for a mother of a supposed missing child.

Caylee’s remains, with duct tape hanging from her skull, were found in swampy woods near the Anthony home five months after she was reported missing. All that was left of the child were bones and hair, making it impossible to scientifically determine a cause of death.

Also standing in line to collect damages from Casey Anthony is Texas EquuSearch, which mounted a $100,000 search for the toddler after Anthony misled detectives by telling them Caylee had been kidnapped by a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.

Casey Anthony’s lawyer Jose Baez acknowledged at trial that the nanny was a figment of her imagination.

But a Central Florida woman by the name of Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez is suing Anthony for damages, saying her life was destroyed after Anthony inserted her name into the case.

Editing by Jerry Norton