Docuseries tells Casey Anthony’s side of the story

- Erin Jensen

What if everything you knew about Casey Anthony – the woman once branded “America’s most hated mom” amid suspicions she killed her 2-yearold daughter – was wrong?

That’s the swing-for-the-fences thesis of a three-part docuseries, “Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies,” streaming now on Peacock. In it, Anthony, now 36, gives her first on-camera interview since her 2011 acquittal.

Anthony being found not guilty in daughter Caylee’s death shocked those who had convicted Casey in the court of public opinion. After all, she never reported her child missing in the summer of 2008, though she hadn’t seen her for 31 days. She got a tattoo reading “Bella Vita,” Italian for “beautiful life,” and was convicted on four counts of providing false informatio­n to law enforcemen­t, though two were later overturned.

“So far, everyone has heard one side of the story,” says docuseries director Alexandra Dean (“This Is Paris,” “Secrets of Playboy“). “So of course they believe that’s the only truth, and the outrage is understand­able. I think when they watch the documentar­y and they hear the other side of the story, they’ll realize there are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered.”

Casey asserts that she began lying as a coping mechanism to cover up sexual abuse at the hands of her father, George Anthony, and her brother, Lee. George has denied abusing his daughter and declined to talk to filmmakers. Lee, who testified during Casey’s trial, did not speak for the documentar­y. Neither could be located by USA TODAY for comment.

Casey says, “I lied a lot more than I ever told the truth because the truth was too painful.”

She believes her dad was abusing Caylee, and might’ve accidental­ly killed her while smothering her with a pillow so she couldn’t fight him off – as Casey says George did with her. She claims he brought her Caylee’s wet body and assured her the child “would be OK” before taking her to an unknown location.

“Just keep doing what I’m telling you to do,” he supposedly told Casey, which included lying to police. “You guys will be reunited soon.”

“I was convinced that she was OK, until December of 2008,” when Caylee’s remains were found, Casey says.

Dean reveals why she believes Anthony is telling the truth now, Casey’s reason for sharing her side of the story, and what she hopes viewers take away from the series.

Edited for length and clarity. Question: What is Casey’s motivation for wanting to get her side of events out now?

Alexandra Dean: Casey’s been through 10 years of therapy, and she felt she had started to realize a lot of things about what had happened to her and what had happened to Caylee that she hadn’t been able to understand before, and she wanted to tell the world.

You say Casey’s case wasn’t properly investigat­ed. In what way?

Where the documentar­y lands is

that the police did not look at George as a suspect, and so they did not look at his phone records for geolocatio­ns, did not compare his story with Casey’s phone records.

You mentioned approachin­g this as an investigat­ive journalist. How did you decide whom you would interview to tell a truthful story?

One of the most important sources for me was the transcript­s of conversati­ons that Casey had had with psychiatri­sts and psychologi­sts in jail. And what I got was that the story she’s telling me now is completely consistent with the story she was telling them back then. The fact that she told other people about the abuse was important.

Dozens of other documentar­ies say Casey was probably guilty. What (viewers) haven’t heard is why so many of those pieces of evidence were dismissed in court, and I think we explained that pretty well.

People in the docuseries talk about Casey’s habitual lying and manipulati­on, which Casey herself has acknowledg­ed. How can you be confident that what she was telling you was the truth?

That wasn’t easy. I talked to her employer, Pat McKenna (an investigat­or Casey met when he worked as part of Casey’s defense team). He tells me she’s been honest with him.

I talked to a lot of psychologi­sts and psychiatri­sts about whether it’s possible for someone who was a pathologic­al liar 10 years ago to go through therapy and to come to a point where they’re not a liar anymore. And I was told by multiple experts that is very possible.

In the docuseries, Casey says she

didn’t want to leave her daughter alone with her father, out of fear her daughter would be abused. If she so feared this man, why wouldn’t she have called the police when he allegedly took her?

Trauma is complicate­d and difficult to understand. Casey is trying to explain that when you’re traumatize­d from a very young age by somebody who abused you, you can still love them and want to believe they’re not trying to harm you, even though they obviously have harmed you and can harm other people. But both realities can be true. I don’t think any of us can understand that fully unless we too have been abused by people that we also love, like a parent.

After spending time with Casey and speaking to former friends who described her as a good mom, experts, members of her defense team – what is your opinion?

My opinion is that the police should have looked at George as suspect.

What was the biggest challenge in making this docuseries?

The biggest challenge for me was understand­ing the trauma brain. It’s very complicate­d to understand how child abuse can alter the brain. And I talked to a lot of experts who did try to explain to me that you can end up with a child who, like Casey, seems like a pathologic­al liar because of the way child abuse affects the brain, and you can also end up with a person who can hold two realities in their mind.

What do you want viewers to take away from the docuseries?

I want people to judge a little less quickly when they hear a complicate­d story like this one. I want people to realize that the media can create a circus around a person or try to create a reality television villain or a hero out of somebody because it’s good television. But it doesn’t necessaril­y mean that you’ve heard the whole story of their life. *

 ?? PROVIDED BY PEACOCK ?? Casey Anthony speaks on camera for the first time since her 2011 acquittal.
PROVIDED BY PEACOCK Casey Anthony speaks on camera for the first time since her 2011 acquittal.
 ?? PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP ?? Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony, mark their granddaugh­ter Caylee's birthday on Aug. 9, 2011, by visiting the site in Orlando where her body was found.
PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony, mark their granddaugh­ter Caylee's birthday on Aug. 9, 2011, by visiting the site in Orlando where her body was found.

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