By MIKE SCHNEIDER and KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. — When Casey Anthony is released from jail Sunday, it will probably be in the middle of the night.
If her lawyers are smart, security experts say, they will arrange for several SUVs with tinted windows to pull up to the Orange County Jail. Then they will bundle her into one of them and whisk her away to a safe house, where she will be protected by bodyguards for days, if not weeks.
“I’d tell her to go to a big house in the middle of nowhere,” said Dallas-based security expert Stuart Diamond, who has worked for celebrities and federal agencies. “That would be the safest thing for her. It’s more of an effort for someone to really follow through on a threat.”
Online and elsewhere, Anthony has been vilified, many believing she got away with murder. Some have wished the same fate on her that prosecutors say befell her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Anthony’s legal team said Friday it received an emailed death threat with a doctored photo of the 25-year-old woman with a bullet hole through her forehead. The threat was forwarded to authorities.
One her attorneys, Cheney Mason, said Anthony is nervous about getting out of jail, and he isn’t taking any chances: “We are all vigilant and I am armed.”
A jury acquitted Anthony last week of murder but found her guilty of lying to law officers investigating the disappearance of Caylee in 2008. She was sentenced to four years in prison, but with good behavior and nearly three years already served, she will be out this weekend.
Details of her release are being closely held, and the sheriff’s department is not making the time public beforehand.
“This will not be a usual release,” jail spokesman Allen Moore said in an email. “Due to the high-profile nature of this case and intense, emotional interest by the public, appropriate measures will be taken to release the individual into the community in such a manner so as to preserve the safety of the individual and public.”
The Orange County Jail has had very few high-profile inmates. Former astronaut Lisa Nowak, who was convicted in a bizarre attack on a romantic rival, walked out the jail’s front door, where a horde of media pushed and elbowed their way toward her, shouting questions and trying to snap photos. In another case, Noelle Bush, the daughter of then-Gov. Jeb Bush and niece of then-President George W. Bush, received special handling after her arrest on drug charges. Secret Service agents were worried she could be targeted.
Once she is out of jail, Anthony will not get special treatment beyond the protection any person would get if there were a credible threat, law enforcement authorities said. (Earlier this week, authorities said they had not received any credible threats, but they did not immediately return a call Friday about the new email.)
“She’s like every other resident or citizen here,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. “We’re not going to be her personal security. Her attorneys will make appropriate decisions or prepare for her own security after that.”
She should be let out of jail at “an offbeat time like 3 or 4 in the morning,” said Daniel Meachum, an Atlanta lawyer who has represented football star Michael Vick and actor Wesley Snipes.
Ideally, security experts said, she should go to a safe house. She may have to arrange backup locations, in case the address is discovered.
She probably won’t be going to the home she had shared with her parents before her arrest, in part because the trial fractured their relationship. Defense attorney Jose Baez told jurors that Anthony’s father, George Anthony, molested his daughter and covered up his granddaughter’s death after Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool. George Anthony has denied the abuse and cover-up allegations.
“Most of the time you can always go home, but she doesn’t have that option,” Meachum said. “Baez has to have somewhere for her to go for her to get herself together.”
Anthony’s security may be hampered by her limited financial means, though many have predicted lucrative book and TV interview deals. Two security guards around the clock could cost $10,000 a week, experts said.
The best thing she can do for her safety is keep a low profile, said Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles lawyer who has represented Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson and Nicole Ritchie.
“She needs to lay as low as possible until the next big scandal or trial,” Geragos said. “It’s not time to do a photo spread. It’s not time to sit down with Diane Sawyer. None of those things. There is no reason to do any of that.”