ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) – A Florida judge on Thursday sentenced Casey Anthony to four years in jail for lying to police after her daughter disappeared, but she will be released from custody next week after getting credit for time served and good behavior.
Court officials said Anthony, 25, will be let out of jail on July 13, having received 1,043 days credit for the time she spent behind bars since her arrest.
Anthony was acquitted on Tuesday of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008 but on Thursday received the toughest possible punishment for providing false information to law enforcement during the investigation.
Each of the four misdemeanor counts Anthony was convicted of carried a maximum of one year in jail. Judge Belvin Perry ordered the one-year terms to run consecutively, and also imposed a $1,000 fine for each count.
Perry said as a result of Anthony’s lies, law enforcement spent “a great deal of time, energy and manpower looking for young Caylee Marie Anthony.”
Anthony did not speak during the sentencing hearing. She wore her long hair loose rather than pulled tightly back as she had during the trial and smiled while she chatted with defense attorneys before the proceedings.
But her face tightened as the judge discussed her lies and handed down the punishment.
The hearing drew Anthony’s fans, critics and a large police presence to the Orlando courthouse where her trial played out over more than six weeks this summer.
“Boycott any books, movies by Casey,” one protester’s sign read.
“Casey will you marry me,” read a sign held by 20-year-old pizzeria worker Tim Allen.
Reaction to the sentence was mixed. Some people came hoping to witness Anthony walk out of the courthouse a free woman.
“I would like to put my eyes on her,” said Darwin Outsey, a 33-year-old Orlando car detailer who agreed with the murder acquittal but thought Anthony was at least guilty of being an accessory to the killing.
Others criticized the sentence as too lenient.
The punishment is a far cry from the death penalty prosecutors had planned to seek if jurors found Anthony guilty of first-degree murder.
The prosecution said Anthony smothered Caylee with duct tape on June 16, 2008, drove around for several days with Caylee’s body in her car trunk and then dumped the remains in woods near the Anthony family home.
The defense argued that Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family’s backyard pool.
Millions of Americans followed the trial and many were stunned, even angered, by the verdict reached by jurors on Tuesday.
The jury also found Anthony not guilty of aggravated child abuse or aggravated manslaughter of a child. Jurors who have spoken out since said they felt there wasn’t enough evidence for a murder conviction.
(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton)