ORLANDO, Fla. -- For nearly two months, the murder trial of Casey Anthony was a living entity. It breathed daily across national television airwaves, then was reinforced nightly on cable TV programs that dissected every word uttered in the courtroom and fueled speculation on her fate.
When Anthony was acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, hundreds of thousands of people captivated by the case -- and certain of her guilt -- poured their rage into postings on Facebook and the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Those and other social media sites provided a platform and a large audience for a decibel level of vitriol seldom seen before.
The threats, both veiled and blatant, were disturbing enough to make the judge hold off on releasing jurors' names, and to make it all the more likely that Anthony will be secretly whisked away upon her release next week.
Postings continued to fill one "I hate Casey Anthony" Facebook page yesterday morning, with nearly 39,000 people having "liked" the page. In reaction to Anthony's July 17 announced release date, one person wrote, " . . . maybe she won't even make it out of jail alive." Someone else added a picture of Anthony manipulated to give her horns and to include a backdrop of flames.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a psychologist who authored "Mothers on Trial," said the case connected with people by the millions because it taps primitive instincts rejecting the thought of a mother ever doing anything to harm her child.
"Once a mother is merely accused, she stands convicted, because the instinct is to blame the mother," she said.
Anthony was sentenced to 4 years for lying to police but is close to completing that term because of time served and good behavior.
There are occasional voices of those that offer the view that prosecutors didn't prove their case. "She's not guilty it's already been proven get over it . . . stop wishing someone to be dead" one man wrote on one of the anti-Anthony pages. But those items are few and almost immediately met with ridicule.
On Yahoo, Casey Anthony was a top search the week of her acquittal. The case was also fueling the popularity of those closely associated with it. Searches were up 1,000 percent for cable host Nancy Grace, who made almost nightly pronouncements insisting that "Tot Mom," her nickname for Anthony, was guilty.