The judge who presided over the trial of Casey Anthony said Monday he believed the Florida mother, acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, could have been convicted of first-degree murder.

Judge Belvin Perry told NBC’s “Today” show, "There was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder in the first degree in this case… I thought they had proved a great case, but you’ve got to realize this was a circumstantial evidence case. All the defense had to do was create that reasonable doubt, and that’s what they did."


Perry, the chief judge on Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, admitted he felt “surprise, shock, disbelief” when the not-guilty verdict was handed to him and had to read it twice to make sure.

The judge also said Anthony was “very manipulative” and showed two very different sides during the proceedings. "There was the side that was before the jury, where she portrayed the role of a mother who had lost a child, someone who was wrongfully accused, and then you could notice the change and transformation in her when the jury went out.”

Anthony, who is now 26, was acquitted of murder in 2011 in the death her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. She was convicted of making false statements to police and received credit for time served.

Anthony filed for bankruptcy in Florida in late January, claiming about $1,000 in assets and $792,000 in liabilities.

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