After a murder trial in which Casey Anthony’s family was portrayed as a fractured mess by the defense, Anthony’s former fiancé told TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Wednesday that there is no way the family can return to a normal life.
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Jesse Grund was previously engaged to Anthony and at one time believed he was the father of Anthony’s 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, whose decomposed body was found in the woods in 2008. Grund witnessed the dynamics between Casey, her parents, George and Cindy, and her brother, Lee, and feels there is no picking up the pieces of a family in disarray.Video: Casey Anthony’s ex-fiance: ‘Angry, shocked’ by verdict (on this page)
“They are not a cohesive, loving group,’’ Grund told TODAY exclusively about the Anthonys. “That family was a carnival of dysfunctionality.
“There’s no way Casey goes back to that household. Cindy and Casey have had an adversarial relationship the entire time that Caylee has been alive. Being a part of that family the way that I was, there is no way Casey goes back to that home. There is no way they have any semblance of a normal family life.’’
Tuesday's not-guilty verdict has captivated the nation. And like many, Grund was incredulous when Anthony was acquitted on all counts on Tuesday. In his opinion, the prosecution made a mistake in trying to portray the Anthonys as normal and loving.Story: Anthony juror: 'Sick to our stomach' over verdict
“I was angry and shocked by the verdict,’’ he said. “It’s obvious from the evidence that was presented that Casey was the last person to see Caylee alive, and her body was dumped in the woods.’’Video: Prosecutor: I was ‘shocked’ by verdict (on this page)
The verdict came at the end of a trial in which the defense tried to illustrate the dysfunction of the Anthony family, alleging that George molested Casey when she was eight years old. George denied their claims and the judge said they were never proven by evidence. George acknowledged that he contemplated suicide at one point, even leaving a note, while Casey issued an icy stare in his direction throughout his testimony. Meanwhile, Cindy cried frequently and was often portrayed as a liar.
“(With) Cindy’s example of lying, as I’ve always said, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,’’ Grund said. “Casey had to learn her behavior from somewhere.’’
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Casey's brother Lee Anthony described being frozen out of Caylee’s birth celebration by his mother and sister. It all added up to a picture that Grund had seen firsthand when he fell in love with a 19-year-old Anthony in 2005.
When Caylee was first born, Casey Anthony told Grund he was the father, even though they had broken up before she became pregnant. When Caylee’s disappearance was first reported, Casey told authorities that Grund was the one responsible for it, according to tapes released by Orlando police. Grund took a polygraph test, and was quickly ruled out as a suspect.Video: Anthony family torn apart by trial (on this page)
In 2008, Grund told TODAY Anthony was a fun-loving girl who turned into a pathological liar once her daughter was reported missing. The girl he once fell in love with is now gone, he felt, and has been replaced by a party girl who enjoys attention. The media glare of the trial and her subsequent acquittal should only serve to feed that attention, he said.
“Right now, she has everything she ever wanted,’’ Grund said. “She is going to have money, she is going to have people at her doorstep asking for her, wanting her, and she’s going to have that partying lifestyle that she so craved.’’
Anthony’s fate has been determined by the legal system, but what ultimately happened to her daughter may never be known.
“What would I say if I saw her today?’’ Grund said about Anthony. “I would tell her she needs to repent, because at the end of the day, she is going to have to answer for why Caylee isn’t on this earth any more.’’
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