Courts & Crime

Zahra Baker, Caylee Anthony deaths share similarities

The comparisons were expected.

Two young defenseless girls: Caylee Anthony, 2, of Orlando, Fla., and Zahra Baker, 10, of Hickory.

Each missing for an extended period, their mothers - or stepmother in Zahra's case - told similar stories. They said their daughters were kidnapped, then backtracked when the bodies were found.

Caylee drowned, said her mother, Casey Anthony. She said her father helped hide the body.

Zahra died of an illness, said her stepmother Elisa Baker. She said her husband hid the body.

In each case, the medical examiner struggled to find a cause.

On Tuesday, Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder in her daughter's death, leading many to ask obvious questions about the Zahra investigation.

"There are a lot of similarities," said Courtney Russell, 24, a criminal justice student from Hickory who has been following the Zahra Baker case. "Caylee didn't get justice. In my heart, I don't know if Zahra will get the justice she deserves."

Soon after the Florida jury reached its verdict, Catawba County District Attorney Jay Gaither started fielding calls about his own case against Elisa Baker. He told the Observer that the Anthony decision shouldn't be taken as a sign of what will happen if the Baker case goes to trial.

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