By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Casey Anthony, the Florida mother acquitted in the 2008 killing of her 2-year-old daughter, has reached a settlement with a search and rescue organization that spent $100,000 looking for her missing daughter, the group's lawyer said on Monday.
Anthony was acquitted in 2011 of the murder of her daughter, Caylee, in a trial broadcast live nationwide. She was found guilty of lying to investigators when she told them Caylee had been kidnapped and prompted a nationwide search for the girl.
The toddler's duct-taped body was found six months after her death and disappearance, dumped in the woods near Anthony's home.
Texas EquuSearch, which claimed it drained its coffers and brought in "countless" volunteers in a massive search for Caylee, sued after Anthony's lawyer told jurors in his opening statement during the trial that Caylee drowned in the family's backyard pool, and that Anthony knew she was not missing.
Texas EquuSearch lawyer Marc Wites said the organization decided against taking the case to trial. Anthony, 26, filed for bankruptcy in January, claiming she has just over a $1,000 in assets and nearly $800,000 in debt, according to a court filing.
Under the settlement, Anthony will not object to Texas EquuSearch being named as a $75,000 creditor in her bankruptcy case, and Texas EquuSearch will not object to Anthony's bankruptcy petition for discharge.
Anthony's most valuable asset is considered to be the rights to her life story.
Bankruptcy trustee Stephen Meininger wanted her creditors to benefit from her story, but Anthony's lawyers objected, raising constitutional and other issues.
Wites said he does not know whether Texas EquuSearch will receive any money through the bankruptcy court.
"Texas EquuSearch's mission and purpose is to help families and individuals to find their missing loved ones," he said. "That's the reason they helped the Anthony family in the first place. While they were searching for Caylee, they got calls from other families for help and had to turn them away."
Anthony still faces defamation lawsuits by a meter reader who found Caylee's body, and by Zenaida Gonzalez who sued after Anthony told investigators Caylee was kidnapped by a woman with a similar name and description.
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Jackie Frank)
- Society & Culture
- Casey Anthony
- Texas EquuSearch