Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

Fate of Casey Anthony lawsuits murky after bankruptcy hearing

TAMPA — What does Casey Anthony's bankruptcy mean for the two defamation lawsuits pending against her? The answer was no less murky after a hearing Wednesday in Tampa.

The suits, brought by Zenaida Gonzalez and Roy Kronk, were halted by Anthony's January Chapter 7 filing — which she hopes will ultimately end them for good.

Gonzalez and Kronk are listed as creditors in Anthony's bankruptcy. But because the suits haven't been resolved, it's unclear what, if anything, she owes them.

Anthony's attorneys want a federal judge to rule on the suits, likely the quicker alternative.

Gonzalez and Kronk want jury trials in state court, where the Gonzalez claim was headed to trial before the bankruptcy filing.

Attorneys for Gonzalez and Kronk were in court Wednesday to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May to extend the deadline for them to object to Anthony's bankruptcy until after the suits are decided in state court.

But May said such a ruling would be premature: "I haven't decided that (the suits) should be heard in state court." The judge set another hearing for May 30.

Anthony has been in hiding since her trial in the 2008 death of her daughter, Caylee. Anthony was charged with murder, but convicted of only four misdemeanors for lying to law enforcement, two of which were reversed on appeal.

Gonzalez sued after Anthony said a similarly named nanny kidnapped Caylee. The nanny didn't exist, but Gonzalez was linked to the case in the media. Kronk, a meter reader who found Caylee's body in the woods, says Anthony's attorneys wrongly implicated him.

Anthony's legal team argues both lawsuits are frivolous.

The hearing came a day after bankruptcy trustee Stephen L. Meininger withdrew his motion to sell the rights to her life story to pay her many creditors.

Meininger's attorney, Allan Watkins, declined to comment on that decision after court Wednesday. But at an earlier hearing, the judge expressed skepticism about the idea.

Anthony filed for bankruptcy in January, listing more than $790,000 in debt. Her largest creditor is criminal lawyer Jose Baez, whom she owes $500,000.

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