Casey Anthony's bankruptcy filing frustrates founder of Texas Equusearch

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by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 12:21 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 28 at 8:42 AM

HOUSTON - The latest twist to the strange story of Casey Anthony has frustrated the founder of a non-profit in the Houston area that’s suing her for damages.

Anthony, the Florida mother infamously accused and acquitted of killing her daughter Caylee in a sensational trial, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Her petition claims she owes almost $800,000 to about 80 creditors, with about $500,000 of it owed to her lead defense attorney. 

But the bankruptcy filing in federal court also basically freezes all lawsuits filed against her in state courts, including a suit filed by Texas Equusearch, a non-profit group that helps law enforcement authorities hunt for missing people.

“We did a massive search for little Caylee,” said Tim Miller, the Santa Fe man who founded the group. “And we had over 4200 volunteers come in from all over the country.  Equusearch itself spent a little over $119,000 on that search.”

Anthony’s defense attorney claimed in court that Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool a month before she was reported missing and that her parents merely covered up her death. 

Prosecutors claimed Anthony killed her daughter with chloroform, covered her nose and mouth with duct tape, then dumped her body in some woods near her home.

Under either scenario, Anthony would have known her daughter was dead while thousands of volunteers wasted their time searching for her. So Equusearch sued Anthony, hoping to recover the money it spent on the fruitless search.

Anthony claims in her bankruptcy petition that she has no income, but she could collect a bonanza from a book or movie deal. Indeed, some legal analysts believe she’s asked for Chapter 7 protection to wipe out her debts before banking a windfall.

Bankruptcy filings are also routinely used as a legal tactic employed by attorneys trying to delay trials of lawsuits filed in state courts. In this case it will become difficult, perhaps impossible, for Equusearch to ever collect any money from Anthony.

“I don’t know what my next option is, but it’s not over,” Miller said.  “And it’s not over for Casey.”

Anthony was acquitted of capital murder, but she was sentenced to four years in jail for lying to law enforcement authorities. 

But with the time she spent in jail awaiting trial counting against her jail terms, she was released 10 days after her sentencing.

The bankruptcy filing happened on the same day an appellate court threw out two of her four convictions.

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