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Casey Anthony allowed to keep mum in lawsuits during appeal

Casey Anthony leaves the Orange County Jail in Orlando
Casey Anthony leaves the Orange County Jail in Orlando

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Casey Anthony can refuse to answer questions about the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee while she appeals her convictions related to the child's passing, a Florida judge has ruled.

Anthony, 25, was found not guilty in July of killing Caylee, but is appealing convictions on four charges of lying to detectives in the case.

One of the convictions was for falsely claiming that Caylee was kidnapped by a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.

A woman named Zenaida Gonzalez has sued Casey Anthony for defamation. In October, Anthony asserted her constitutional right to remain silent and avoid incriminating herself when she was questioned about the death under oath by lawyers in the suit.

Gonzalez's lawyers then asked Judge Lisa Munyon to order Anthony to talk. But Munyon denied their request in a ruling issued on Thursday.

"Federal and state courts have long recognized that the fifth amendment privilege may be properly asserted during the pendency of the direct appeal," Munyon wrote in her order.

The judge said that constitutional right applied in Anthony's case. The issue can be reconsidered after Anthony's appeal concludes, the judge wrote.

Gonzalez's lawyer could not be reached immediately for comment.

Anthony, who is living in an undisclosed location and serving a year of probation on check fraud charges, faces several lawsuits stemming from her daughter's disappearance and death.

Texas EquuSearch sued for damages to recoup money spent during a five-month search for Caylee. Former meter reader Roy Kronk, who found Caylee's remains in woods near the Anthony family's Orlando-area home, claimed in a suit this month that Anthony's lawyers defamed him by trying to raise suspicions about his involvement in the toddler's death.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)

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