ORLANDO, Fla. >> A big fat book deal? A life in hiding? Motherhood again?
What could the future hold for Casey Anthony when she gets out of jail, perhaps as early as Thursday?
A day after she was acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in a case that was a coast-to-coast TV sensation, many of those who followed the riveting drama are wondering.
"Anthony will always be dogged by the belief that she killed her child," said Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "She will never lead a normal life."
In a country known for second acts, never is a strong word. But should she be released at her sentencing Thursday, after nearly three years behind bars, the 25-year-old Anthony could be hard-pressed to piece together some semblance of a normal life:
— She may have to get out of town. Threats have been made against her, and online she is being vilified. Nearly 15,000 people "liked" the "I hate Casey Anthony" page on Facebook, which included comments wishing her the same fate that befell little Caylee. Ti McCleod, who lives a few doors from Anthony’s parents, said: "Society is a danger to Casey; she’s not a danger to society."
— Her family has been fractured by her attorneys’ insistence that Anthony’s father and brother molested her and that her father participated in a cover-up of Caylee’s death. On Tuesday, Anthony’s parents rose from their seats without emotion upon hearing the verdict and left the courtroom ahead of everyone else. Their attorney, Mark Lippman, said they haven’t spoken with their daughter since the verdict, and he wouldn’t say whether they believed she was guilty.
— Anthony is a high school dropout who, before her arrest at 22, had limited work experience. Her last job was in 2006 as a vendor at Universal Studios theme park. While she once professed an interest in photography, and even found some work in the field, it’s not known whether she has skills that could translate into a career.
In a 2010 jailhouse letter to a friend, Anthony said she would like to adopt a child from Ireland "accent and all."
Judge Belvin Perry will sentence Anthony on four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators while they were looking into her daughter’s disappearance. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. At worst, she will serve only a little additional time.
Prosecutors contended that Anthony suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to party and be with her boyfriends. Defense attorneys argued that the little girl accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and that Anthony panicked and hid the body because of the effects of being sexually abused by her father.
The prosecutor in the case, Jeff Ashton, told NBC’s "Today" show Wednesday that the verdict left him and other prosecutors in shock. "I think I mouthed the word ‘wow’ about five times," said Ashton, who is retiring Friday. A spokesman said the retirement had been planned for some time.
Ashton said that he believes the jurors applied the law as they understood it. "Beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard," he said.
Jurors declined to talk with reporters immediately after Tuesday’s verdict, and juror Jennifer Ford told ABC News in an interview that it was because "we were sick to our stomach to get that verdict."
"We were crying and not just the women," Ford said in an interview, according to an article posted on the network’s website Wednesday night. "It was emotional and we weren’t ready."
Ford, a 32-year-old nursing student, said the case was a troubling one.
"I did not say she was innocent," said Ford, known previously only as juror number 3. "I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be."
The prosecution didn’t paint a clear enough picture of what happened to Caylee, Ford argued in a portion of the interview broadcast Wednesday night.
"I have no idea what happened to that child.’ Ford said.
Ford acknowledged that Casey Anthony’s behavior in the weeks after her daughter went missing, including not initially reporting her disappearance and partying, "looks very bad…but bad behavior is not enough to prove a crime."
"I feel she had something to do with it," Ford said of Anthony. "I don’t believe it’s fair to speculate."
Alternate juror Russell Huekler said he feels compassion for Casey Anthony and hopes she gets help because she can "no longer live a life of lies."
Huekler told The Associated Press that he was shocked to learn of the public’s anger over the jury’s acquittal of Anthony on a murder charge.
"Those 12 jurors, they worked really, really hard," said Huekler, who did not vote on the verdict but sat through more than 33 days of testimony as an alternate. "I’m sure they looked at the law and the evidence that was presented and unfortunately, the prosecution didn’t meet their burden of proof."
Anthony’s attorneys did not return calls from the AP for comment.
But defense attorney Jose Baez told ABC News’ Barbara Walters that testimony showed his client was an "excellent mother," though he acknowledged that her month-long failure to report her missing daughter was wrong.
"I understand that the actions that she took were obviously not things that anyone should condone," Baez said. "However this was not a murder case. It never was. And the jury saw that and thankfully the system worked."
Geneva Shiles of Orlando said she had trouble sleeping Tuesday night after witnessing the verdict from a seat in the courtroom. "I’m angry and anxious to see what Casey will do with her life now that she’s free," Shile said. "My question is: If she didn’t do it, who did?"
That question is frustrating many who followed the trial, hoping for a neat ending to a made-for-television case.
"None of us know what actually happened," said Roslyn Muraskin, a criminologist at Long Island University who co-authored "Crime and the Media: Headlines vs. Reality." ”Maybe none of us will ever know."
Much of that will depend on whether Anthony chooses to tell her story.
"I believe she’s already been bombarded as we speak by publishers and agents," said Linda Konner, president of the Linda Konner Literary Agency, based in New York. "I think there’s a lot of interest when you’re dealing with mother and dead child."
Konner said a Casey Anthony memoir could fetch a half-million dollars or more, and she would be interested herself in securing the rights.
"Because I know I could sell it," Konner said. "I look at it as here is someone who has a story that has been very compelling to people for a long time. My personal opinion of her is irrelevant."
The judge in the case could order that any such proceeds be used to repay the costs of the search for Caylee, said Karin Moore, a law professor at Florida A&M University.
Nancy Grace, the TV commentator and former prosecutor who made no secret of her belief that Anthony was guilty, predicted in an ABC interview that Anthony will prosper financially.
Dismissing defense complaints that Anthony was the victim of a "media assassination," Grace said: "There’s no assassination because tot mom is going to walk out of jail, probably, tomorrow, and she’s probably going to get a million-dollar book deal and maybe a quarter-million dollars for licensing fees for photos."
She added: "She’s going to be living on easy street, living the ‘sweet life’ she’s got tattooed on her back."
Associated Press writer Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla., contributed to this report.