Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Casey Anthony's Murder Trial: The Battle of the Color-Coded Charts

Watching yesterday's status hearing was excruciating. I sat at my computer with the video on the left, notes on the right. I focused my attention on getting the major details and names. My efforts produced a dazzling display of confusion which has taken quite a while to unravel.

The blame goes to Casey Anthony's "for all intents and purposes" lead attorney, Jose Baez. For the second hearing in a row, he has used his many-colored charts to figure out which witnesses have been deposed, which have been scheduled, and which had not been scheduled. His system clearly isn't working.

These names are very important due to looming deadlines imposed by Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who, according to Diana Tennis, legal commentator for Fox35, is "micromanaging" the case. According to Tennis, "This is such a level of micromanagement I have never seen." I don't think I have to tell you why this is the case!

Due to technical difficulties, the audio did not come up until a few minutes into the hearing. At that point we heard Jose Baez state something about Tony Lazzaro's deposition. Linda Drane Burdick is heard to whisper, "that's past the deadline". Baez then flashed the infamous color-coded list and mentioned witnesses listed by the defense after May 24 (boldly highlighted in red). He then says they are already incorporated into his list (waves another list). He then goes on to mention names added to the State's witness list August 10, 30, and 31. (Remember, the 31st was the deadline for listing witnesses. I'm already confused and it's only 1:07 into the first part of the hearing.)

I promise not to micro-report the remaining hour, but this is an example of the confusion that reigned over the first section of the hearing.

Baez then mentioned that discovery was ongoing and that the defense had recently received 50 more pages.

Judge Perry then asked Baez how many expert witnesses would not be deposed by the September 30 deadline. Baez mentioned Neil Haskell, the State's forensic entomologist and hemmed and hawed about a couple more. He went off track to mention some other category of witnesses until Perry put him back on track. In the end, Baez managed to name 9 experts and explained in way too much detail why two of them wouldn't need to be deposed. (Actually, it may have ended up being 8 when Baez stated one of them, Sandra Cawn, or was it Maureen Bradley? was scheduled for Thursday. Jeff Ashton was able to clear up who one witness was as Baez didn't know what role she played. See what I mean about confusion?) After much color-coded chart-flipping, Baez came up with his final list.

When asked by Judge Perry when he believed that he would have the depositions completed, Baez answered, "I think, barring schedules the end of November".

Jeff Ashton rose to speak to the situation. He was willing to see a deposition slightly outside the deadline due to schedueling problems with Michael Rickenbach from the FBI lab.

As for Dr. Neil Haskell, Ashton pointed out that his report had been produced 1 1/2 years ago and the defense had never scheduled his deposition. He believed the defense should provide a motion showing just cause. Baez responded with a lengthy explanation of how he had wanted all his experts to examine the evidence at the same time and all the difficulties he had run into to carry out the examination two months ago. There was a longer explanation of lack of proper equipment, so on, and so on, to explain the delay. (I recall Dr. Haskell offering to have Dr. Huntington examine the insects with him from the beginning. I wish I could find that letter or e-mail!) Another reason Baez felt he needed more time was that the defense was fully booked for depositions which take time to prepare since they needed to go though 23,000 documents to do each one!

Ashton also indicated that they had a discussed the issue in a prior hearing and Baez had not approached him about the issue until three days ago.

Judge Perry then decided there was no need to file a motion for just cause and they would discuss the issue further.

Ashton blasted the defense by saying that they had chosen to delay looking at the evidence involved for 1 1/2 years! He accused the defense of not exercising it's due diligence in getting the evidence reviewed. It also should not have been a surprise to the defense as to what equipment would be available at the recent inspection. He said that to extend the defense would delay his preparation for the case since he has his own deadlines to meet.

Baez gave another rambling discourse about how ard they were working and all the discovery being dumped on them all the time. Judge Perry cut him off to tell him that all he was interested in was the expert witnesses, not other matters.

Judge Perry is my #1 hero of the day for reigning in Baez' ramblings and keeping him on track. After allowing Baez a few more moments of saying that "it just didn't work out", the judge ask him for numbers again. How many experts would not be deposed by the deadline.

Baez pointed out the name of someone who was scheduled, the judge reined him in again... how many would NOT be deposed by the deadline. Baez then went back to his chart of many colors and flipped back and forth for a while. Baez then said that they were all scheduled except for Dr. Sigmond who he had wanted to depose today, but the State was unavailable. There were cell phone people, no, computer people, who had to be rescheduled. Then there are the dog handlers, are they considered experts? Oh, and Stenger (OCSO). (At this point, my head was spinning and a headache was starting to make it's appearance in the back of my head.)

Jeff Ashton then mentioned Dr. Haskell. Baez said he was scheduled for the 22nd. Ashton said that he had a message from him earlier that day and Dr. Haskell had no knowledge of that date, and neither did he!

Judge Perry, perhaps to escape this issue, which had been under discussion and page-flipping for almost 20 minutes, resignedly extended the deadline to November 19. It would be the last extension Baez would receive during this hearing.

Perry then moved on to the evidence review. He asked if his experts had reviewed everything that was needed to be review. He reminded Baez that the deadline for that was October 31.

Baez indicated that only the hair and entomological evidence was left. When asked about the air evidence, Baez explained their visit to Tennessee to depose the scientists there. The only one not completed was the man who went to the junk yard to find control evidence (cars, mats, etc.).

There was then talk of the Cisco system. Baez did not go to the source at the court. He had signed on for himself. Linda Drane Burdick indicated she had spoken to the representative and had come to the conclusion that the Webex system might suit their needs better.

There was then discussion of stipulations that Casey Anthony has to sign concerning the examination of the entomological and hair samples. When Baez sort of tossed the topic off, the judge reminded him that "Death Is Different" and that his client was local. Baez agreed to see her the same day to have them signed. Jeff Ashton (hero #2 of the day), asked that Baez give him a list of the hair samples he wanted to add to the stipulation.

Next, the judge asked Baez if he would have all his experts listed by November 30. Baez responded that he wanted a one week extension because he and Mason would be going to New York for a big meeting with Linda Kenney Baden. Confused, the judge asked why, if he was going next week, they needed an extension, Baez said that he thought that the judge had said SEPTEMBER 30! Oopsie!

The next topic was the depositions of law enforcement people. (My headache moved forward a bit just hearing this.)

The judge then asked Baez if he had completed these depositions.

Baez responded that if the court were to give him the same extension, he would be able to complete them.

Judge Perry want to know WHY they weren't going to be completed. Baez claimed he had 8 no-shows at the marathon session on September 3. When Perry asked WHY, he stated he had problems in cooperation from the Orlando Police Department. Mason spoke for the first time and indicated that there were conflicts with vacations, sick people, sick family members, a person who had forgotten, and some who said they weren't served.

Perry then asked when he anticipated completing the 8. Baez said he's like the judge to give him the same extension he'd given before, November 16. Perry replied that he didn't like giving open ended extensions and to explain WHY he needed an extension.

Baez then said that he had scheduled December 1 for the "no-shows" and Judge Perry quickly responded that "that won't work, it was out of the question". He said they could fix up a "nice" Saturday schedule for them. He also said that the October 31 deadline was quite enough. Mason than stood and asked hero #3 for the day, Linda Drane Burdick, if there were 30 more in the same category.

She indicated that those who weren't there September 3 had been scheduled for October 7. When the judge asked for the names, Ms. Drane Burdick said that only 23 were deposed on the 3rd. She then read off her list of people and told Judge Perry that her records showed that they were either excused or hadn't been served. The judge began to say that he would extend the deadline if some of the 8 didn't show up. Linda Drane Burdick then reminded the judge that he had already extended this deadline once. From that point on, Judge Perry did not budge from that particular date. Baez tried to shoehorn in that he already had other witnesses scheduled for the 7th, but (drat) he didn't have that schedule with him.

Judge Perry pretty much ended that particular discussion by saying, "Bottom line is the 31st is the DROP DEAD DATE.

Oh no, it wasn't the end. It turned out that the defense had scheduled (John Allen) for a deposition last Friday and he had been sent out of town and couldn't be there. Also, although the defense had already deposed Yuri Melich for 8 hours, they were only half finished.

Perry reiterated that the deadline is October 31 and that they do have nights and weekends. Baez and Mason had a quick conversation and Mason was heard to remind Baez that they both had trials on a particular date.

My headache really started pounding away when I heard Judge Perry mention the "ordinary", or lay witnesses left to be deposed. Their deadline is also October 31. I was amazed to hear the list of names. Some of them are not minor players in this case by any means. The list included Richard Cain, Amy Huizenga, Tony Lazzaro, Tim Miller, and Cindy Anthony's brother, Rick Plesea. Others included the two jail snitches Robyn Adams and Myra Durkovich.

Naturally, there was an extended wait for this list due to the fact that Baez had to again peruse his multi-colored list. The silence in the courtroom was deafening. Baez also made a big deal out of the "late" witnesses by the State.

Note here that Judge Perry asks Baez HOW MANY? and Baez never answers with a number. He always has to go through the list and tell you the "unique" situations.

There was one ugly scene during the recitation of the names. When it came to Amy Huizenga, it was explained that she was working on a cruise ship and was only available on Saturdays when the ship docked in Miami. Cheney Mason approached the podium to tell the judge what HE thought of the idea of a trip to Miami on a weekend. He told the judge he didn't care about her work schedule and she would just have to take time off for his convenience!

Kudos to Linda Drane Burdick for standing up for Amy. She did wait around in the area for a year and a half and had been available at her workplace, "down the street".

The judge reminded the lawyers that October 31 is the deadline!

Then, we got to the "recently listed people". In all, there are 18 of the 70 people listed that the defense wants to depose. According to Baez, a lot are custodians of records and a lot of them that they can just be interviewed versus taking a deposition. Baez then rambled on about how it would have been nice to have A, B, and C witnesses. He said that when the did the LE depositions, some of those people were in minor roles, such as "delivery persons".

In addition, there were 7 or 8 witnesses from the jail and that "something funky" might be going on in the jail again. Linda Drane Burdick explained that the names came from internal documents concerning Sylvia Hernandez, the guard who assisted in the contact between Robyn Adams and Casey Anthony. These documents had only become available in late summer and that she had turned over the names and some taped statements to the defense.

Jose Baez then threw the court for a loop. He stated that the best place to do these depositions was at the jail and that he wanted Casey Anthony present because she did not remember the names.

The judge looked at him and said, "Why What?" You want your client present? What does the rule say?" Baez responded, "I'd have to file a motion, show good cause." (The words are approximate, but I have the feeling the judge was floored by this request. I don't think it's going to happen! Ever hear of photographs?)

The judge then steered Baez back to the "late" and corrected himself, "recently" filed names. Baez said he thought most would be quick depositions and wouldn't take much time.

Again, Perry broke through Baez' hesitant presentation to ask, "When will you have those done.?". When Baez hesitated, the judge added that he didn't think Baez would say by the end of October!

Linda Drane Burdick then addressed the court and said that she believed that the court had already stated that the defense would have up to December 31. The judge stated he would check the transcript. He also wanted both parties to draw up a list of these people.

Finally, we got to the last part of the status hearing. Judge Perry reminded the defense that the deadline for listing all penalty phase witnesses was November 30. He asked if Baez had apprised his new death penalty expert (Ann Finnell ) of the date. Baez stated that he had and when the judge asked about the mitigation expert, Baez said that they were working together towards that deadline.

Then, the dreaded "ANYTHING ELSE" part of the hearing. Jose Baez always has "something else". This time it was a motion he had filed that morning to have DNA testing done on the shorts and laundry bag.

As the motion had just been filed, Judge Perry did not yet have a copy. Jeff Ashton kindly lent the judge his and Perry read silently for a few moments.

According to the motion, the defense wanted to send the evidence to Richard Eikelenboom's Dutch lab, Independent Forensic Services. Baez spoke for a while about how this lab would be the best and that it was world-renowned for it's work. In addition, Eikelenboom was willing to do the work pro bono.

Although this is not a motions hearing, Jeff Ashton was willing to argue it. He pointed out that the bag had been tested and no DNA had been found. He wasn't sure if the shorts had been tested. He argued against sending it out of the country because the court would have no subpoena power for witnesses who worked in the lab. He also pointed out that shipping it overseas heightened the possibility for the evidence to be lost or damaged.

Mainly, he stated he had a problem with the Eikelenboom's, but he wouldn't go into it at the time. He said that the lab wasn't ASCLAD certified. In his own research, he had found a dozen certified labs who have done touch DNA testing for 7 to 8 years. He said that there was a Pennsylvania lab the he wouldn't object to. He would also require a stipulation as with the other testing.

I'll spare you the rest of the arguments but one. Baez indicated that the 15 ASCLAD certified labs in Florida were associated with law enforcement. (How in the world could he indicate that DNA testing done by law enforcement was biased? DNA is what it is and is used to clear people as much, if not more than it is to convict someone!)

Judge Perry said that he was like to allow the testing, but would not allow the evidence out of the country.

UPDATE! Today, Judge Perry ruled that the evidence will be sent to National Medical Services, Criminalistics Laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa. According to the Orlando Sentinel, both parties have agreed to using this lab.

Linda Drane Burdick brought up the last issue for the day. She mentioned the list of pending motions. Judge Perry said that he would be entering orders later in the day or today. He also indicated that there are some that are still not "ripe".

Drane Burdick also inquired if there would be a hearing on the Kronk motion. If there were to be one, she would not bother with a reply. The judge agreed with her. He also said that the witnesses wouldn't need to testify since they will assume that what the witnesses say is true. From that point, that testimony would have to be measured against the Hitchcock decision which says a person cannot be impeached by prior bad acts. Upon presentation, he would have to rule based upon exceptions and precedents that allow that type of evidence in at trial.

The next item brought before the court by Drane Burdick was that the defense had added two witnesses to their list after the deadline. One was already on the State's list, the other was totally new, but scheduled for a deposition. She said she would not expect a certification for good cause on the one witness, but was merely advising the judge of the situation in case there were more.

The final information was that she has not received statements, photograph, or other materials from the people listed on the defense witness list. She used a tape recording from David Lohr.

Jose Baez jumped all over that saying that a transcript and tape had been submitted with the motion. He also got another dig in at Mark NeJame when he mentioned that Lohr had discussed writing a book with him. He was "shocked" that she hadn't received it!

Drane Burdick said that she had seen the transcript, but not the tape and was using this as an example only. She didn't want to have to flood the court with motions to compel (and she's filed two already). She summed it up by saying that "They are in possession of items they have not turned over."

I absolutely loved the judge's reply, which also ended the hearing:

Only thing I want to say about that is, you all know what the rules are, please abide by, and if somebody feels that somebody's breaking the rules, file the necessary pleading and we will deal with it.

But I would not want to be caught violating the rules.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Casey Anthony: A Blast From The Past, The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

I’ve been following the case since the very beginning with my friends here at Trials & Tribulations. However, back in 2008, I wan’t a contributor and sent in “guest” articles from time to time. Looking back, I’m sorry I didn’t start covering hearings from the get-go. That facet of my involvement only evolved over time.

As a result, I’ve forgotten so much. This weekend, awaiting the next status hearing, I took the opportunity to go back in time to the first major hearing on the case. Since it was prior to the indictment for murder, it only deals with the child abuse/neglect situation. It is very interesting, however, that the defense was already set to try a murder trial.

This hearing occurred on October 10, 2008, just four days before Casey was indicted by the grand jury. It’s interesting to note that Jonathan Kasen was in court arguing motions in the criminal case along with Jose Baez. There were many motions discussed, including the infamous ones for the tips and for Casey to travel about with her “team” to various places of interest.

Dr. Lawrence Kobilinski “appeared” to give testimony telephonically! He mainly wanted DNA and other biological evidence to be properly preserved and that enough samples be available to the defense for independent testing. This was Jeff Ashton's debut as the science and forensic specialist on the team.

In another motion, Baez was reminded that he needed to notice the appropriate organization when submitting his motion.

Part 4 was very enlightening because Baez asked for all information about Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. Linda Drane Burdick made it clear here that Baez was asking the State to do his investigation for him and that he was on a “fishing expedition”.Judge Strickland ruled that the State would have turn over all the information they had that wasn’t under investigation, and that they already had provided it to the defense.

All of the motions that the judge did not grant were pretty much rendered moot by the new charges against Casey. Her bail was revoked and she’s been in jail since October 14, 2008. She never had a chance to wander around showing Baez “her” Orlando. The request for tips came up again in the murder case.

It’s amazing to realize how much the defense has changed since the early days. Once Casey was indicted, Terrence Lenamon came on board for a short period of time to remove the death penalty. He had a difference of opinion with Jose Baez and parted company with the defense.

Once the remains were discovered, Linda Kenney-Baden was added to the team. Jonathan Kasen went on to represent Casey in the civil trial. He has since resigned and attorney Charles Green has taken his place.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Judge Grants Several Motions Requested By Casey Anthony's Attorney (Original title of article)

Jose Baez Laughs
One of Baez’ first encounters with Kati Belich!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Casey Anthony Status Hearing Monday

When Judge Perry announced that there would be monthly status hearing in the case, I imagined they wouldn't be all that interesting. I was so very wrong! It's amazing what comes out in these hearings and I am looking forward to the hearing on Monday, September 27 at 1:30 PM.

Any guesses as to what will happen?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vanessa Coleman Sentencing by David in Tennessee

This is a very belated guest entry from David in Tennessee. My apologies to David for not posting it in a timely manner. David was in the courtroom and this is his first person account. Sprocket

Vanessa Coleman Sentenced to 53 Years In Christian-Newsom Torture-Murders

David In Tennessee

The last of four suspects, and the only female, Vanessa Coleman, was sentenced to 53 years in prison on July 30 for her role in the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. This is Knox News reporter Jamie Satterfield's story on the hearing. It has several links, including all of the stories she has written on the case, as well as videos. Here is the account by WBIR. It has several videos.

This is my story about attending three days of Coleman's trial. The jury acquitted Coleman of dozens of charges, including any involvement regarding Christopher Newsom and of Channon Christian's rape and murder. She was convicted of 17 counts of facilitation in crimes against Channon Christian, including facilitation of felony murder and facilitation of aggravated rape.

The jury, in effect, bought the defense argument that Newsom was murdered somewhere else and Coleman didn't see it. Lavitt claimed that law enforcement tricked "this little girl." Some jurors, by their questions, which Tennessee allows, wanted to blame Daphne Sutton, ex-girlfriend of ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson. During deliberations, a juror asked the court to define the word "perpetration."

My own personal opinion, from observing the jury in person for three days, hearing their questions, and the eventual verdict, is that the verdict was a compromise. I may be wrong, but I think some jurors wanted to acquit Coleman of every charge and turn her loose, while other wanted to convict on the main charges regarding Channon Christian. They compromised and went back to Nashville. Judge Richard Baumgartner decided on a jury from Davidson County, rather than Knox County. He did the same with Letalvis Cobbins, the first suspect tried (http://sprocket-trials.blogspot.com/2009/08/christian-newsom-torture-murder-case.html). This is the first story I wrote about the case. It outlines the case and describes the first trial.

I was aware the hearing was scheduled for 11 am, but entered the courtroom at 9. I saw Judge Baumgartner conduct his Friday docket, mostly probation hearings, mostly drug offenders. The judge would munch on snickers and called a break when he wanted to go to the smoking area. Three TV cameras were set up by 10:15. The judge called a break at 10:50. Outside, I spoke briefly with Hugh Newsom, Chris' father. Deputy DA Leland Price came over and told Hugh the hearing would start at 11 and the docket was cleared.

Vanessa Coleman was brought in wearing a red jailhouse jumpsuit. There were motions for retrials of the other convicted suspects. They will be heard next year.

Deena Christian then was called to the stand to give her impact statement. She said, "You call yourself a victim. I think not." Deena scoffed as she quoted Coleman's journal entry: "Lets talk about adventure. I've had one hell of an adventure since I've been in the big Tennessee."

Gary Christian followed his wife to the stand. "Young lady, you are pure evil," he told her looking directly at her. The Newsom's could not make an impact statement because Coleman was found not guilty of every charge concerning their son.

Coleman's defense attorney, Theodore Lavitt, still insisted his client was innocent and asked for a sentence of 14 years with early chance for parole. Lavitt argued that Coleman should receive mitigation because she lacked a prior criminal record. Deputy DA, Leland Price, asked for the sentences to be consecutive, rather than concurrent, which would add up to 77 years. There was also the heinous nature of the crime be taken into account.

After hearing the respective arguments, detailed above, Judge Baumgartner told the court his decision.

Prosecutors asked for 77 years. The defense asked that the sentences by concurrent. The prosecution asked that they be consecutive. The judge ruled 53 years and made them consecutive:

25 years for Facilitation of Premeditated Murder of Christian
12 years for Facilitation of Especially Aggravated Kidnapping of Christian accomplished with deadly weapons
12 years for Facilitation of Aggravated Anal, Oral, and Vaginal Rape of Christian
4 years for Facilitation of Theft from Christian

I, and everyone with whom I have discussed the case, believe it was Coleman who kicked and beat Channon Christian's vaginal area. It was anger over her boyfriend, Cobbins, raping Channon.

"In my judgement, she substantially assisted in the assaults and rapes," Judge Baumgartner said. He also said he believed Coleman knew what was happening to the victims because Christian was tortured, raped, and murdered in an 800 square foot home on Chipman Street in East Knoxville.

The judge said Coleman was a street-smart 18-year old drug user when the crimes happened and he didn't think her youth mitigated her sentence. Interestingly, the judge said the jury had given mitigation in their verdict.

"I don't think she was under duress," the judge said or dominated by her co-defendants. The judge also said a message should be sent that those who hang around bad people will get into big trouble.

Vanessa Coleman declined to speak. The Newsom's said they would have liked to hear an apology. The Christians said they would have walked out.

Before the hearing, Vanessa Coleman was interviewed by a probation officer and said she fell under a bad influence. "She said she was influenced by bad guys," the pre-sentence report states. This is different from what she said to her parents, lawyers, and police. When she left the courtroom, Vanessa Coleman smiled and winked at her family.

After the hearing, numerous local reporters were interviewing the Christians and Newsom's. I stood nearby when a reporter asked Mary Newsom if the four trials had brought closure, a question that comes in every high-profile murder trial. Mary patiently answered this and the other questions. I then wished Hugh and Mary all my best and left the courthouse.

It may not be over. It appears there are two more individuals who took part. Two unidentified sperm samples were found on Channon Christian's undergarments in a last test for DNA in 2009. It belonged to none of the suspects or their known friends, as well as not matching Chris Newsom. This news was in an October 9, 2009 article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel by Jamie Satterfield. She has done a great job in covering this case. There may be more trials in the Christian-Newsom Torture-Murder case.

Another source for this article is WATE. I also used my notes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Defense Introduces New Attorneys; TES and Defense Make Stipulations

This morning, Jose Baez and Cheney Mason held a press conference at Baez' Kissimmee office to announce two new additions to the criminal defense team and a new civil attorney for Casey Anthony.

New to the team are Dorothy Sims, an Ocala attorney who will work in the questioning of scientific experts and Ann Finnell, of Jacksonville, a death penalty expert.

It would seem that the defense team is back up to steam with Sims taking the role of former defense attorney Todd Macaluso and Finnell that of Andrea Lyon.

Charles Green of Orlando is the new civil attorney for the Zenaida Gonzalez lawsuit. He replaces Jonathan Kasen of Fort Lauderdale. The new attorneys will be working pro bono.

With the newly configured defense team in place, let's hope that the defense will have an easier go of completing their depositions on time and be well prepared for the trial in May. Casey has the right to a competent defense in her death-penalty case. Let's hope there is no more need to change the team at this point.

TES Document Filed

Dated September 9, 2009, the Joint Stipulation Regarding Defense Review Of The Documents In The Possession Of Texas Equusearch lays out an agreement between TES and the defense concerning the review of the thousands of documents relating to the searchers who worked through the heat and discomfort to try and find Caylee Anthony. Judge Perry executed his order on September 11, and this is the final word on the process.

I hope that this is the last we hear of this entire issue and the process goes smoothly.

Signed by Cheney Mason and Mark NeJame, the document provides a strict outline for the process. Hmmm... it was signed in Baez office, but Baez didn't sign it?

The stipulation begins by briefly reviewing the situation with the searchers. The defense wants to know the ground conditions at the location where Caylee's remains were found. They had been previously given the names of 32 searchers who had been within 50 yards of that spot.

The defense wanted to contact other searchers to see if they had been in that area on their own or with TES. To protect the privacy of the searchers, the following procedures have been agreed to.

If the defense finds a searcher they wish to question, they will be permitted to call them in the presence of the TES representative and counsel as well as the special magistrate. They will only be permitted to ask the following questions:

A TES representative will be present at all times and TES counsel is also permitted to be there. The documents will be brought to the location (probably somewhere in the courthouse) each day and removed at the end of each day by the TES representative.

1. If such a search occurred, when did the search occur,
2. If such a search occurred, was it a part of TES or done independently,
3. If such a search occurred, who was involved in the search with them,
4. If such a search occurred, an inquiry would be made as to what was observed and what
occurred during the search at or near the Suburban Drive area.

If the defense feels that more information is needed for a searcher after the call, they will receive the form. As with previous agreements, the names of the searchers will be kept confidential.

The rationale for this change is clearly explained in the document.

This procedure eliminates the need of note taking by the defense, other than identifying those searchers who were unable to be reached for further follow up, unless a call identifies a searcher who has relevant information concerning anyone who has information as to who may have searched the Suburban Drive area. If a searcher indicates they were not in the Suburban Drive area then their information shall not be released further to the Defense and the Defense is not permitted to secure or leave with any of their information.

So, that being apparently settled, I'd like to add some of my own opinion about this phone call business.

I taught secondary level students for over thirty years and one of my favorite duties was "phone duty". I would be given a list of students who hadn't shown up at school and who hadn't had a parent call in an absence. For an hour every day, I'd be on the phone, calling the parents of these students to let them know their child was absent. I'd call the home phone number first. If I was lucky, the student would answer the phone and admit they were "skipping". Much of the time, there would be no answer. Second on the list would be the workplace of a parent. Third would be the other parent, if available. I would have two to three numbers for every student and they all lived within a specific area. 90% of the time, it would take two or three calls to contact someone. In the other 10%, no contact could be made.

My average number of contacts per hour was about 10. Now, the TES documents will most likely have phone numbers, and people do work. With approximately 4,000 searchers... and assuming the defense will try to contact them all, what are the odds? And of those that they contact, how many will say they searched Suburban Drive? It's a needle in a haystack situation!


Ann Finnell joins Casey Anthony defense team
New Casey Attorneys Taking On Case For Free
Accused Killer Casey Anthony Expands Defense Team

Press Conference

Part 1
Part 2

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Do you remember where you were nine years ago today? I remember we were in our living room. We had slept late and were just getting ready to start our day. A girlfriend called me not long after the first plane hit the North Tower. I'll never forget what she said, 'Turn on the TV. Our Nation's under attack!" It wasn't until later in the day that I found out my sister was on a flight that had left from Boston. It took several hours before her husband was able to determine that she wasn't on one of the planes, but two of his employees were. My niece and her husband were just entering the lobby of World Trade Center 7 when the first plane hit. They took off on foot and ran many city blocks home.

Today T&T stops to honor all the individuals who lost their lives nine years ago at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in a desolate field in Pennsylvania. This Wikipedia entry on the September 11th attacks reminds us that "The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries."

The Pentagon Memorial was completed and open to the public on September 11, 2008. It is a landscaped park with 184 benches facing the Pentagon.

You can see plans for the World Trade Center Memorial at this CNN video.

The Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania broke ground on November 8th, 2009.

Hang a flag to honor those who lost their lives today. Always remember, never forget.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Session's Beth Karas Interviews Rachel Wade

In Session's Beth Karas had a rare opportunity to interview Rachel Wade on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010, three days before her sentencing hearing. Rachel Wade was convicted of second degree murder in the death of a romantic rival, Sarah Lundemann, 17, over Joshua Camacho, a young man who was dating both women at the same time. The full interview will be shown on In Session next Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. You can read about Beth's exclusive interview at the In Session blog.

Short, In Session promo video at Facebook.

Dead Child Found Tied To Her Crib

There are some stories that put a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes. When police found little four-year-old Marchella Pierce, she appeared to be tied to her crib with a jump rope and weighed only 15 pounds. That's what a typical 3-month-old child would weigh.

ABC News reports:

Police say Pierce was so emaciated that her bones were sticking out. They also said she had trauma to her arms, ankles and wrists.

They say the child's mother, Carlola Pierce, waited three hours before she called 911 for her unresponsive daughter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Casey Anthony Murder Trial: Defense Files Yet Another Objection To The Sunshine Laws

On August 30, the defense filed its 3rd Renewed Notice Of Standing Objection Of Abuse Of Florida Statute Chapter 119.01.

It should be noted that there is no time stamp on the document and it is stamped with notice that it was filed "in open court". That leads me to wonder whether it was filed before, during, or after the hearing. Since this objection was filed the same day as the status hearing, its contents reflect some of Jose Baez' complaints about discovery which Linda Drane Burdick fully explained to the Court during the hearing. I do believe that the defense was premature in filing this latest document!

Since the vast majority of the motion is identical to the other three that were filed recently, I'll note only the differences here. (The text is exact transcription of original document.)

6. On July 22, 2010, The State Attorney's office released supplemental discovery in this matter to both the Defense and to the Media, Having previously heard arguments on this issue, this Judge Stan Strickland denied the Defense's request to the release of discovery in this matter to the media at least until the Defense could be heard on relevant objections.

Since there is no date for this apparent decision by Judge Strickland, I can't go back and refer to it. In fact, I don't recall any decision by the judge on any motions made by the defense concerning this issue. What I do know is that the State Attorney's office has not disclosed any discovery to the media for quite a bit of time after giving it to the defense. The defense has always had time to look at the discovery and make objections.

7. In this Discovery dated July 22, 2010 the State released documents that either the State of Florida knew or should have known were in its possession since 2008 i.e. Letters to Casey Anthony, Dominic Casey Emails, Audio of Erica Gonzalez.

First of all, the letters were in the possession of the Department of Corrections. The original batch was released in discovery in early April. Those letters dated from the beginning of Casey's incarceration until March, 2010. At the hearing on Monday, Linda Drane Burdick said that the State received this latest batch in June. They had to be scanned and organized and sent to Baez. When Judge Perry asked how long it took, Drane-Burdick indicated that the scanning took a full week.

Ms. Drane Burdick also explained that the e-mails of Dominic Casey were not turned over directly from the private investigator. Rather, they were passed through a number of parties prior to being sent to her office. Again, they had to be organized and duplicated. Having read the whole thing myself, that was a long and tedious job. Again, just because the e-mails were written in 2008 and 2009, it does not mean that the State Attorney's office received them at the time.

Much the same applies to the audio of Erica Gonzalez. According to Drane Burdick, this bit of investigation did not occur until this year. This has been a huge investigation, and it is more than likely this interview was done after reviewing a lot of evidence and finding an interview missing. Her office saw that Ms. Gonzales was interviewed. In addition, the audio has yet to be released to the media!

Finally, we come to the accusations.

8. The State of Florida has filtered it's discovery over the last two years to feed the appetite of the local media and to keep the public interested in their prosecution. By withholding documents that it either has known or should have known were available to the Defense.

9. These actions whether intentional or not have a sinister effect on Miss Anthony's right to a fair trial.

All I can do here is quote from Judge Stan Strickland's Order in which he recused himself from the case.

At its core, defense counsel's motion accuses the undersigned of being a "self-aggrandizing media hound". Indeed,. The Irony is rich.

It is indeed rich irony that Baez accuses the State Attorney's office of feeding the media the discovery to keep up the public interest. Not one of the State Attorneys has appeared on TV, spoken to the press, or tried to turn themselves into super stars. Apparently, in Jose Baez' mind, he is the only person involved in this trial who is out for pure justice! Give me a break! His accusations are getting old. Just ask Mark NeJame.

Many thanks to Muzikman for providing this latest defense document!