Miami attorney Terence Lenamon, who left the Casey Anthony case in a dispute with Jose Baez, has written a book. Heinous, Atrocious amp; Cruel carries the subtitle The Casebook of a Death Penalty Attorney. The self-published book is available on Amazon both in Kindle and paperback form.
There are eight chapters, but the seventh one will draw most of the attention. In it, Lenamon focuses on the Anthony case. Is he OK with the Anthony case getting most of the attention?
Anything that can get the message out about the death penalty, he said. I try to take a holistic approach to this to show readers these are human beings. They are accused of doing really bad things, but how did they get to this point?
In July, Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee.
I first talked to Lenamon in May 2009, shortly after he left the case. Then he stressed that he and Baez had a disagreement over strategy over mental-health mitigation.
I talked to him again today. He gave an inside look at the defense team and opened up about why he left. He talked about Anthony, her parents, Baez and two attorneys who came aboard later, Cheney Mason and Andrea Lyon. In the book, he writes about how Anthony photographs ended his involvement in the case.
What did the Anthony case tell you about the use of the death penalty?
I think they [prosecutors] have way too much discretion and it’s a costly issue. There were some personalities involved in this case that may have led to them going back and pursuing the death penalty after they found the body. A big part of it is they [prosecutors] wanted to win. It may have been some bad form on Mr. Baez’s part. His interaction with the prosecution lacked a sort of Dale Carnegie feel. [Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People.] If he hadn’t gone headstrong against the prosecutors ..
There’s a couple of things going on. The prosecution was trying to use the death penalty to squeeze a plea or get a better jury that’s death qualified, and that backfired on them. That’s my perspective as an outsider.
You talk about interactions between Casey Anthony and Baez.
Clearly I saw that she looked to him as a protector from the interactions I saw.
Is she misunderstood in the press?
A lot of people don’t see there is a warm, loving human being inside that young girl who has suffered significant damage and has been vilified in press. I saw a very frightened girl and someone who was very much alone.
What were your impressions of George and Cindy Anthony?
The George and Cindy I met on both occasions were compassionate parents. They had real concerns about their daughter. They were overwhelmed with the circumstances they were placed in. George was in disbelief about the death-penalty issue. I was sitting down with a father who saw interactions between her [Casey] and her daughter, and couldn’t fathom this happening.
To think someone, the state of Florida, would want to kill his child was unfathomable. They were very caring and loving. They could have resisted and said, ‘We don’t want to share,’ but they gave me photographs. They ended up being sold, which was the real disenchantment for me.
Why did that happen?
My take on why they sold pictures, obviously, he [Baez] wanted to pay part of his fee. He wasn’t doing this for free. It’s understandable, but there have to be some ethics involved. He made a decision he was going to use the photographs to provide income for himself and his experts.
What do you remember about that sale?
I had provided the photographs with a copy of the waiver package to your reporter. I was trying to personalize her [Casey]. There were some nice photographs of Caylee and some nice photographs of the family. This was in the middle of the storm where she had become de-personalized, and I thought it was important to personalize her with prosecutors and the public, to get the focus off the death penalty.
When Jose found out she [the Sentinel reporter] had the photos, he had [public-relations executive] Todd Black call and harass her. Todd Black called me and harassed me about turning over photos and said they had a deal for selling the photos for $200,000, and I would ruin the deal. That was the breaking point. [Anthony received $200,000 through a licensing deal with ABC News, part of the Walt Disney Co.]
What was your final meeting with Baez?
He called me a couple of times asking questions that were pertinent to the case before they found the body. At that point, we were disconnected completely. I had done what I did. He didn’t agree with it. I wasn’t being his team player. Technically I should have been the lead lawyer. [Because of his expertise on death-penalty cases.]
Andrea Lyon comes into the case and she leaves. I communicated [to her] a bunch of stuff that goes beyond my observations of Jose and Casey’s interactions. It was communicated behind my back to Jose. Then Cheney Mason comes along and files a Bar complaint, alleges a lot of BS about me talking to the press. Twice he submitted the Bar complaint, and twice it was rejected. Jose or the client had to file it.
At the time he’s [Masons] courting Jose to get on the case. He doesn’t know me. Jose is trying to circumvent the Bar. Finally he couldn’t figure out how to, he had to sign off on the complaint. That’s when I said I’m going to talk about interactions in the jail, things I observed, work production information. I hired a lawyer, and they [the defense] walked away. They were opening Pandora’s box. I could defend with the truth. Shortly after that, Cheney was on the case.
What’s your take on Andrea Lyon?
I have a high regard for her as a lawyer. I was disappointed that she communicated information that I communicated to her to Jose. I’m not friends with her. I know her. I was telling this stuff [to Lyons] for the client’s protection, to protect the client.
She communicated it to Baez?
Absolutely. I confronted her. First she said she didn’t remember. Then she did say she did communicate to him.
What’s your take on Cheney Mason?
I know Cheney Mason has a good reputation as a criminal defense lawyer, but it appears to me his motive was to get involved in the case at any cost, and he was using me to do that.
What about Jose?
I think Jose Baez got a great result on the case, but I think he’s always been ambitious, and obviously used the case for his ambition.
What does this case say about the death penalty?
In this case there was a lot of recklessness, but a lot of luck. We’re sitting here, this young girl isn’t on Death Row. The book is about the death penalty and the humanization of people involved. It’s real. We in society don’t get a sense of things related to people charged with these serious crimes.
Your time on the Anthony case sounds very frustrating.
It was frustrating. I didn’t get to finish what I started. It was frustrating because people driving the bus probably shouldn’t have been driving the bus. It doesn’t mean you can’t get there and park and have a good result. It’s a great result. I can’t take that away from Jose and the client.
What does the case say about the justice system?
Our justice system works in spite of.