Midway through the Casey Anthony case, Time called it "the first major murder trial of the social-media age." Every weekday since the trial began on May 24, thousands watched a live feed of the proceedings. They commented, texted and tweeted--a collective soul searching that arose from the heinous nature of the crime (a mother accused of killing her 2-year-old child) and was made possible by today's digital platforms.
When the case ended in an acquittal on July 5, Americans again grabbed their mobile devices. But outside the courthouse, the assembly took a human form. Hundreds of spectators stood in the sweltering sun expressing disbelief and anger. Jose Baez, Anthony's combative defense lawyer, said he had mixed feelings. Justice, he explained, had been served. His client had been absolved of the crime, but Caylee Anthony, the bright-eyed toddler, was still dead. Many Americans pondered what might be next for Casey Anthony--a book deal or TV show? But when state attorney Lawson Lamar took to the microphones, he explained what lay ahead for his team: trying to solve the 140 murders pending in Orange County, Florida. None of those will get the attention the Anthony case did. But, our outrage spent, our attention distracted, it's nonetheless worth remembering that those 140 victims are more than just characters on our TV screens.