Judge felt 'shock' at Casey Anthony's not guilty verdict saying there was 'sufficient evidence' to send 'manipulative' mother down for murder
- Judge Belvin Perry presided over Anthony's murder trial
- Perry called her 'very manipulative' and said her 'personable' lawyer swayed the jury
- He made the remarks in his first interview since the trial ended in 2011
- Anthony was accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008
- She was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement and released from jail in July 2011
By Hayley Peterson
PUBLISHED: 08:21 EST, 6 May 2013 | UPDATED: 08:48 EST, 6 May 2013
The Florida judge who presided over Casey Anthony's murder trial says he was shocked by the jury's 'not guilty' verdict because there was 'sufficient evidence' that she killed her two-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Judge Belvin Perry made the extraordinary admission in his first interview since the close of Anthony's trial nearly two years ago.
'There were two sides to Casey Anthony,' Perry told NBC's Today Show. 'There was the side that was before the jury, where she portrayed the role of a mother who had lost a child - someone who was wrongfully accused. And then you could notice the change and transformation in her when the jury went out.
Shocking admission: Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over Casey Anthony's murder trial, says the jury found her not guilty because she was 'very manipulative' and had an extraordinarily personable lawyer
Released: Casey Anthony (right) and her lawyer Jose Baez (left) leave the Orange County Jail in Orlando the day that Anthony was released
'She was very commanding, she took charge of different things, and you could see her sometimes scolding her attorneys.'
Perry said he believes the jury let the young mother off the hook for
first-degree murder because she was 'very manipulative' and had an
extraordinarily personable lawyer.
'Wrong' verdict: Perry said 'There was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder in the first degree in this case'
The jury handed down its 'not guilty' verdict in July of 2011. Perry described his 'surprise,' 'shock' and 'disbelief' at the jury's decision.
'There was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder in the first degree in this case,' he said.
He felt that prosecutors had 'proved a great case.'
'But you’ve got to realize this was a circumstantial evidence case,' he added. 'All the defense had to do was create that reasonable doubt, and that’s what they did.'
Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, played a large role in swaying the jury's opinion of her innocence, Perry said.
'The state had better lawyers, but Mr. Baez was very personable,' he said. 'He came across as someone that you would like.
'It’s like someone trying to sell a used car. Who are you going to buy it from? The most likeable salesperson.'
Anthony wasn't quite as personable as her lawyer, but she could put on a good front before the jury, Perry said.
He recalled a day when Anthony fought with her lawyers over their suggestion that she take a plea deal for aggravated manslaughter instead of first-degree murder.
'Car salesman:' Perry compared Baez (pictured) to a used car salesman as he described how the lawyer persuaded the jury into thinking Anthony was innocent
Emotional: Casey Anthony tries to collect herself during a break in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida. Judge Perry says there was 'sufficient evidence' to prove that she was guilty of killing her daughter
'I will never forget that day,' he said, noting that he was in earshot of the conversation while she was in a holding cell.
'All of a sudden, you heard shouting coming from the holding cell, some four-letter words coming from the holding cell, and she was quite upset,' he said. 'So upset that one counselor suggested that she was incompetent to proceed.'
Her trial was televised and made into a spectacle as one of the most sensational stories of the year, sparking protests and even international news coverage.
The jury found Anthony guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. She was released from jail on July 17, 2011.
In January of this year, a Florida appeals court reduced her convictions from four to two counts.