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Casey Anthony will be released from jail July 17

Casey Anthony sits in court before the start of her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando
Casey Anthony sits in court before the start of her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A Florida judge on Thursday sentenced Casey Anthony to four years in jail for lying to police after her daughter disappeared, but she will be released from custody on July 17 after getting credit for time served and good behavior.

Anthony, 25, will be let out of jail four days later than was previously announced after her release date was recalculated, court spokeswoman Karen Levey said.

Court officials had earlier said Anthony would be released from jail on July 13, having received credit for the 1,043 days she spent behind bars since her arrest.

Anthony was acquitted on Tuesday of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008 but on Thursday received the toughest possible punishment for providing false information to law enforcement during the investigation.

Each of the four misdemeanor counts Casey Anthony was convicted of carried a maximum of one year in jail. Judge Belvin Perry ordered the one-year terms to run consecutively, and also imposed a $1,000 fine for each count.

Perry said as a result of Casey Anthony's lies, law enforcement spent "a great deal of time, energy and manpower looking for young Caylee Marie Anthony."

Casey Anthony did not speak during the sentencing hearing. She wore her long hair loose rather than pulled tightly back as she had during the trial and smiled while she chatted with defense attorneys before the proceedings.

But her face tightened as the judge discussed her lies and handed down the punishment.

The hearing drew Anthony's fans, critics and a large police presence to the Orlando courthouse where her closely watched trial played out over more than six weeks this summer.

"Boycott any books, movies by Casey," one protester's sign read.

"Casey will you marry me," read a sign held by 20-year-old pizzeria worker Tim Allen.

Reaction to the sentence was mixed. Some people came hoping to witness Anthony walk out of the courthouse a free woman.

"I would like to put my eyes on her," said Darwin Outsey, a 33-year-old Orlando car detailer who agreed with the murder acquittal but thought Anthony was at least guilty of being an accessory to the killing.

Others criticized the sentence as too lenient.

"She doesn't deserve to walk free among civilians who care for their children," said Dobia Wright, 30, an unemployed tree trimmer from Orlando who brought along his 3-year-old son.

Where Anthony will go after her release is a mystery. Her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, left the courtroom after the verdict without speaking to their daughter but were back in the regular seats to hear the sentence on Thursday.

Afterward, their lawyer shook hands with defense attorney Jose Baez but would not comment to Reuters about the family's plans.

Casey Anthony's punishment is a far cry from the death penalty prosecutors had planned to seek if jurors found her guilty of first-degree murder.

The prosecution said Casey Anthony smothered Caylee with duct tape on June 16, 2008, drove around for several days with Caylee's body in her car trunk and then dumped the remains in woods near the Anthony family home.

The defense argued that Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family's backyard pool.

Millions of Americans followed the trial and many were stunned, even angered, by the verdict reached by jurors on Tuesday.

The jury also found Casey Anthony not guilty of aggravated child abuse or aggravated manslaughter of a child. Jurors who have spoken out since said they felt there wasn't enough evidence for a murder conviction, but their decision left them in tears and feeling sick.

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Greg McCune)

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