Casey Anthony verdict prompts get-tough measures

July 7, 2011 at 11:09 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla., July 7 (UPI) -- Florida lawmakers signaled their intent to toughen child welfare laws less than a day after an Orlando woman was cleared of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

State Rep. Bill Hager, a Republican, said Wednesday he drafted a bill what would make it a felony for a parent or legal guardian to fail to report a child missing in a timely manner, the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sun-Sentinel reported.

Caylee Anthony was last seen on June 15, 2008, but her mother waited a month before alerting relatives and authorities the toddler was missing. The child's body was not found until December 2008.

Casey Anthony on Tuesday was cleared of murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse, but convicted of four counts of lying to law enforcement officers during the investigation.

"One of the elements that became obvious to me was the totally irresponsible behavior of the mother in not reporting that her child was missing and, in fact, doing everything in her power to dodge telling the authorities," Hager told the newspaper in a telephone interview.

Hager's proposal, which he said he would call "Caylee's Law," would apply in instances when a parent knew or should have known the child likely was in danger, the Sun Sentinel said.

"Frankly, I would hope we never have an instance of this irresponsible behavior arising," Hager said. "If we do, it's at least a warning for those who attempt to follow in the path of Caylee's mother."

State Rep. Will Snyder, a Republican and the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said several lawmakers approached his staff following the verdict.

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