Casey Anthony smiles before the start of her sentencing hearing on charges of lying to a law enforcement officer at the Orange County Courthouse July 7, 2011.
Circuit Judge Belvin Perry said he was surprised, shocked and in disbelief when he read the verdict.
"There was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder in the first degree in this case," he told Savannah Guthrie on “Today” as he spoke publicly on the case for the first time.
Jurors acquitted Anthony in July 2011 of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, whose remains were found in a wooded area near their Orlando home in December 2008.
Jurors found Anthony guilty of four counts of lying to a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor. She was released in July 2011 after getting credit for time served.
In January 2013 an appeals court set aside two of Anthony's convictions, saying the charges constituted double jeopardy.
Perry – who became famous as the trial made national headlines – said he saw two sides of Anthony in the courtroom.
"There was the side that was before the jury, where she portrayed the role of a mother who had lost a child, someone who was wrongfully accused, and then you could notice the change and transformation in her when the jury went out,” he said. “She was very commanding, she took charge of different things, and you could see sometimes her scolding her attorneys."
Perry also said that Anthony was “very manipulative.”
The judge said he would never forget the day when Anthony’s attorneys discussed a possible plea deal for an aggravated manslaughter charge with her.
"All of a sudden, you heard shouting coming from the holding cell, some four-letter words coming from the holding cell, and she was quite upset. So upset that one counselor suggested that she was incompetent to proceed,” he recalled.
Perry said he believed that prosecutors “had proved a great case,” but noted that because the case was based on circumstantial evidence, the defense merely had to create a reasonable doubt, which he said it did.
"The state had better lawyers, but Mr. Baez was very personable,'' Perry said of Anthony’s defense attorney, Jose Baez. “And he came across as someone that you would like. It’s like somebody trying to sell a used car. Who are you going to buy it from? The most likable salesperson."
Baez’s law firm referred a phone call seeking comment on Perry’s interview to Baez’s publicist, Michael Wright. He did not immediately return a phone message.
Watch the judge's interview on "Today":
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