We will be having closing arguments at a hearing tomorrow, March 7, at 2 PM.
I'm back but I can't "shwallow" and only saw the hearing "in a backwards-sort of way." I watched the end of the hearing on Friday online, then I watched the beginning of the hearing on InSession and the pieces posted by WFTV online. What I got out of the hearing was no-where near complete. Rather that attempt a full-blown recap, I'll fill you in on things that came out at the hearing and some thoughts on the hearings in general.
While I've been taking it easy during the weekend, I'm sure Judge Perry hasn't been doing the same. I'm sure he's been reading, viewing, and listening to the exhibits proffered by both parties over the past few days.
He's heard from the Anthony family and the detectives involved. Earlier in the proceedings, he had mentioned "changing stories" and I'm sure he was especially referring to those of Cindy and George Anthony. There is also the issue of differing stories from Casey's parents as well. As with the jurors when the trial comes, the judge will have to decide the credibility of the witnesses and decide who is more believable. Will he believe George, Cindy, Melich, and/or Allen? Will he believe Dep. Eberlin as to the reason and amount of time of the handcuffing? Was Casey erroneously handcuffed because Cindy wanted to press charges on theft so that she couldn't run away?
One example of differing testimony that bothered me the most was about the interview Yuri Melich had with Casey Anthony at the home when he arrived. Cindy said it took place in the spare bedroom (Lee's former room) with the door open. She also said that Melich began in normal tone of voice but got intimidating and demanding of Casey. She also said that the interview lasted about an hour.
Over the weekend, I hunted down the interview, which lasted approximately 19 minutes. Listen for yourself. Melich went over Casey's handwritten statement and never raised his voice or attempted to intimidate Casey. Part 1 Part 2 He also advised her that if there was anything untrue in the statement, now was the time to make any corrections.
George Anthony testified that the interview took place in Casey's bedroom with the door closed and later amended that to the door being partially open or closed.
Yuri Melich testified that the interview took place in the spare bedroom. What I found interesting is that, since the spare bedroom was now a computer room, it would have probably had a bed and desk in it. It is more than likely that Casey sat on the bed and Melich sat on the chair. In George's version, they would have both had to sat on the bed. We've seen plenty of pictures of Casey's room and there was no chair there.
I have no idea if any of Casey's statements to law enforcement after her being handcuffed will be admitted into the trial, but there are other bits and pieces that will come into trial. There is Casey's original statement which is replete with the lies Casey told. We will hear Casey's voice on the last 911 call. There will be the phone call Casey made to her mother the night she was arrested.
The first motion to be heard on Friday was the Motion to Strike Kathi Belich From Defense Witness List. Judge Perry quickly denied the motion after a rather convoluted argument from the defense. Roughly summarized, they needed Kathi Belich to testify to impeach Maya Derkovic if she were to testify. The Cheney Mason tried to explain that Robyn Adams was a State witness made known to the State by Maya and Kathi interviewed her and "fed her" information. The State isn't going to call Maya and the defense said it wasn't sure if they were. But if they did, they would also need Kathi Belich. Got that?
Motion to Suppress Statements Made to George, Cindy, Lee Anthony, Robyn Adams and Sylvia Hernandez.
Testimony continued on Friday about the issue. On Thursday, George Anthony had stated that he felt "tricked" by law enforcement into helping them build a case against his daughter. He firmly testified that he was an Agent of the State only in retrospect. Lee Anthony testified that he was not an Agent of the State. He was playing detective to find his niece, Caylee and worked with anyone who could help him do that.
Witness: Yuri Melich
Jose Baez spent time going over how Melich "helped" George Anthony arrange a meeting with Casey. There was a lot of back and forth as the last time he was on the stand. Baez accused Melich wanted the parents to visit Casey as "false friends". Melich stated that was not the reason they were sending George Anthony in. Baez went laboriously through the deposition and brought up the situation that Melich told him about the Duckett case. Melich did say that one of the reasons that Casey was arrested was that they wouldn't get information from Casey to locate Caylee. There was talk of the jail "hierarchy" and the possibility that Casey might commit suicide. Melich didn't want that to happen if someone was holding Caylee. There was discussion of the bad pictures and listening to the 911 calls. (In a sense, I'm glad I watched this while still somewhat woozy from anesthesia!)
Linda Drane Burdick, in her cross examination, brought out that the Anthony's were constantly calling Melich during the first eight days that he, or someone from the Sheriff's Office should talk to Casey to get answers from her because they were unable to see her at the time. Her cross-examination helped explain the role of the police in dealing with the next of kin of a missing child. He was not there to manipulate them to do his bidding.
Melich denied telling George to tell Casey to write a letter to the Sheriff's Office. Melich agreed that it was Jose Baez who was blocking the family from access to Casey. (At this point, Jose Baez was tutored by Judge Perry that leading questions were permitted on cross examination.) The gist of a lot of his conversations with the family included the fact that he (Melich) couldn't talk to Casey but that there were ways Casey could reach out to them.
In Melich's cross, it was also stated that the family started complaining that the police were not doing enough to find Caylee. He never told anyone in the family to go to the jail to get information from Casey. In fact, neither he nor any member of law enforcement ever encouraged any member of the family to do this.
Baez re-directed and wanted to know how many times he told the family to talk to Casey themselves. (At this point I didn't need the anesthesia to feel dizzy.) One interesting point that Baez did elicit was that the OCSO did not issue a notice that Caylee was missing until after Casey was under arrest.
Witness: Cynthia Anthony
Next, it Cindy Anthony's turn to testify. Cheney Mason spent his opening moments asking Cindy about her communications with the detectives early on in the case. Cindy explained in detail how she was speaking to them regularly in her quest to find her granddaughter. At a point where Cheney Mason used the phrase that the detectives were "exploiting" the the family by using them as Agents of the State. There were accusations that Melich told Cindy that Baez was arranging false tip calls to put the blame on someone else. With that, he sat down.
Did it seem to anyone else that the defense spent a great deal of time getting the family to admit that the detectives were constantly badmouthing Baez to the family? I can't figure out why this would have anything to do with saying that the family members were acting as Agents of the State. It seems as though Allen and Melich were fielding more questions from the family about Baez than vice-versa based on what I've heard and read in the early interviews with family members. If anyone can enlighten me, please do!
Linda Drane Burdick spent a good deal of time going through all the efforts she had made to find Caylee, from the time Amy Huizenga took her to Casey. Cindy testified that even if the police had dropped the case as a domestic matter, she still would have searched for Caylee. In fact, Cindy said that she did not "knowingly and willingly" assist the police in building a case against her daughter.
One thing I noticed was that the defense did not call Robyn Adams or Sylvia Hernandez as witnesses. Did the defense decide to drop these? Not having seen the live stream, I'd love to know if they were mentioned at all.
We got our first glimpse of attorney Dorothy Clay Sims in court. Jeff Ashton argued his motions to strike the Fry portion of two of the science motions (chloroform, root growth). His arguments were brief and to the point. Sims responded. Unfortunately, a portion of her response was cut off by a commercial on InSession. I'm hoping that Judge Perry rules on these Monday.
Some of the other motions were actually settled in court Friday. First, was the State's Motion in Limine which I discussed briefly HERE. Cheney Mason readily agreed with parts 1, 2, 3, and 5 (they are basically good court procedure). It was agreed that parts 4 and 6 could be addressed in side bars in trial.
Finally, the State's Motion To Show Cause was addressed. It was obvious that Judge Perry had sat both parties down and discussed the issue and told them to get it settled without an ugly court fight. Any of you who read Baez Reply know that it would have been very entertaining for us to watch, but very bad for the case. Dorothy Clay Sims wrote a brief response that "satisfied" the State's need and Jose Baez made what I consider to be a very self-promoting apology to Mr. Ashton. Mr. Ashton accepted the apology and the men shook hands.
If you didn't watch the hearing, do watch Baez' apology HERE. As for the handshake, you have to check it out HERE.
I'm sure I've left something out, but I do promise to be with you all in court tomorrow, promptly at 2 PM!
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