Monday, June 25, 2012
Subtitle: Prosecuting Casey Anthony
Author: Jeff Ashton, Lisa Pulitzer
Genre: Non-fiction; Legal; True Crime
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: November 15, 2011
I don't think this one takes much explaining. We all know about this trial unless you totally haven't tuned into current events over the past 3-4 years, but since you're reading this review on a book blog online, I'm assuming you have tuned in at some point or another! This case hit close to home for those of us in the Orlando area. And during the entire time this case was playing out from the time little Caylee was "missing" to the verdict being read at the trial, I worked for child advocacy center in the county adjoining Orange County, where this trial was held. We all streamed the trial to our computers every day (shhh, don't tell...) and watched, though we felt that working at the child advocacy center, wasn't it relevant? I put off reading this book for a little while because I thought it might be overkill. Did I really want to immerse myself into all this even more? I mean, you couldn't turn on the tv in this area for those years without hearing about this case. But, as it turns out, I really enjoyed reading this book and actually feel that it might be a good way to wrap everything up and let our brains fully process everything that happened.
The author, Jeff Ashton was one of the prosecutors on this case. He wrote honestly and frankly in this book about his experiences working this case. He both commended and criticized others when relevant. And he inserted his thought processes throughout the various components of this case from its conception through the trial. He provided some background information that the media didn't know about (or did but twisted). It's crazy because reading this book and putting everything together chronologically and reading the detail about the experts' findings makes it even crazier to me that the jury landed on the verdict they did! But it was sort of interesting to me, personally, because I recognized some of the "players" in this case including investigators and one of the psychiatrists who was almost used by the defense. (The psychiatrist is someone who evaluated many of my clients when I worked for DCF and whose evaluations I still see a lot of now that I work in mental health).
Another interesting aspect of reading this book as compared to watching/hearing about it on tv was the forensic/scientific evidence discussed. I'm not sure if they went into as much detail and explanation at the trial (I mean, I assume they must have), but it was certainly more clear reading about it here. That's probably because in reality it's not like I was able to pay close attention to the trial...after all I was working. But things like odor composition... I didn't pay much attention to that but reading about it here was very interesting whether it was related to this case or not! But as it relates to this case, Ashton provided information about every aspect of it and the witnesses, what made it more challenging for the prosecution, how the jury was almost pre-destined to be made up of those who would find her innocent (he spoke about this a little at the UCF Book Festival), and also managed to provide an in depth look into how the judicial system works overall.
I've always enjoyed reading about the court and legal system, fiction or non, so I found this book interesting for that reason. But followers of true crime books will like this book as well. If this case was of interest to you, or if the judicial system is an interest of yours, I would recommend this book. I also do feel that by taking all the information, in total, and laying it out chronologically with his commentary, I was able to process and piece it all together in my head, even though it's all so crazy. And turns out this is also being made into a Lifetime movie with Rob Lowe playing the part of Jeff Ashton...?? I'll have to tune in!