Monday, June 13, 2011

Casey Anthony Murder Trial: Day 17

If the prosecution's estimates are on target, we should be seeing the end of their case this week.

Linda Drane Burdick's openi
ng statement was detailed, methodical, and introduced the jury to her case. Likewise, the prosecution as followed her opening down the line in a chronological order.

Jose Baez gave a "bombshell" laden, bombastic opening meant to make the jury sit up and pay attention to him. It was very effective in doing that. We have
seen him take a similar tack in his cross-examinations, throwing the "fame and fortune" motive at the least likely people. I think that the jury may have picked up on that and now tend to ignore that portion of the cross. What disappoints me most about Baez' cross examinations is that he tends to leave the podium after having repeated questions and questionable questions which have been objected to and overruled.

Saturday, Linda Burdick showed Baez how to exit on a high note. When John Bradley was almost finished, she got in the number of times Casey had visited the sci-spot site for manufacturing chloroform. The answer was an astounding 84!

When Baez then handed a report to Bradly, he made a comment that he hoped it was a report he generated. It wasn't. Exit Jose Baez in defeat.

Cheney Mason, in his few cameo appearances at the podium hasn't fared well either. He's been rude and obnoxious to the witnesses and hasn't been very effective. Most notably, he failed miserably at making any inroads into Dr. Jan Garavaglia's expert testimony.

We sho
uld be seeing Dr. David Hall, the state's forensic botanist to testify about root growth. I am also hoping we get into the hour-by-hour breakdown of Casey Anthony's day on June 16, 2008. I want to see the cell pings, her probable computer usage, and George and Cindy Anthony's work records.

Well, I was wrong again! We did not see Dr. Hall and, unless he appears in court tomorrow, there is a good chance the prosecution has decided not to use his testimony. Perhaps the pictures of the roots and the discussion of the roots last week will be enough to give the jury a good idea of the effect of the root growth on the remains.

Hair Banding And Heart-Shaped Stickers

Judge Belvin Perry was a bit early this morning. He called court to order at 8:59 AM.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton called their first witness, Stephen Shaw, a hair and fiber examiner for the FBI Investigation Laboratory. Shaw gave his educational credentials as a textile and fiber analyst. For the past 5 years, he has worked as a hair and fiber examiner for the FBI.

Mr. Shaw was accepted as an expert witness in hair and fiber identification.

In 2008, he did a confirmation examination of Q-12 (the hair found in the trunk), which was testified to earlier by Karen Lowe.

The defense objected/overruled.

His review was part of a quality control. In this case, Mr. Shaw was looking to compare the apparent decomposition as well as the microscopic similarities of Q-12 to that from the hair brush.

Since Ms. Lowe was not available, he worked with the hair mass. (Evidence Q-59) He examined the hair microscopically and found it consistent with the hair from the brush.

He also found a band on one, just above the root, and the root had a brush-like appearance. It was at a later stage of decomposition than the hair found in the trunk.

Shaw did stress that hair identification can never be a positive identification. The mass was not considered in the same way as a hair plucked from the head. Even though the hairs were found with the remains, he can only say they are consistent with hair from Caylee Anthony.

Since then, he has been conducting a study which included 60 ante-mortem hairs which were placed in various conditions. Some were put in various places: indoors, outdoors, in vehicles, including a trunk exposed to sunlight.

The hairs were there for periods from a week to 7 months. Although some hairs showed signs of decomposition, none developed the hair-banding.

He went on to use hair from a live people and from dead people. He had two analysts check the hairs to identify post-mortem hair-banding.

In the confirmed results, post-mortem banding was properly identified. Each examiner had made one error in saying a hair from a live person had the death-band. When they got together to compare their results, they both identified the two live hairs that didn’t have post-mortem banding.

At that point, Jeff Ashton asked Shaw if he had prepared a PowerPoint presentation showing the results of the study.

This is the study that Baez cited in the hearings to prove post-mortem banding could appear in a pre-mortem hair.

After a brief bench conference, the jury was sent out so that Baez could question the witness about the presentation. In effect we would be treated to hearing his testimony a second time with John Ashton doing the questioning.

Jose Baez then asked this be done in the form of a proffer. Ashton pointed out that they didn't need a proffer because the defense had depositioned Mr. Shaw in depth about the study.

Baez pointed out that the defense has not received the PowerPoint presentation, but all the photographs in it have already been provided to the defense. However, he had received the photographs (black and white photo-copies,) this morning.

Judge Perry gave them the opportunity to have them played now so that Baez and Sims could ask questions as they go along.

Jose Baez then went through the pictures with Mr. Shaw, who briefly described them.

Shaw identified a band as not having the characteristics of post-mortem root banding. It has to appear above the root and be opaque. It had to be clearly defined. The ones in the sample did not have all of the characteristics.

Shaw could not explain why the pre-mortem hairs with decomposition have the characteristics they do.

In his questioning here, Baez was doing the work for the prosecution. He managed to get some pretty solid testimony from the witness showing that hairs from the living might have decomposition, but there is no authentic root banding.

In showing the post-mortem root banding, Baez' main concern with the climate conditions where the bodies had been. Mr. Shaw could give a minimal description, that they were taken in winter months in Tennessee.

Baez then asked questions about the effects of climate on root-banding. Shaw testified that hairs in warmer climates produce bands more quickly than in cooler climates.

Jose Baez then had a chat with Dorothy Sims and came up with one more questions.

The question was: Do all these hairs come from adults? Shaw said he thought so, but wasn't sure. He also said that, while a child's hair could be thinner, they couldn’t necessarily tell the difference.

Then, when asked a different way, Shaw said they used two test subjects who were children. They tested a total of 600 hairs.

Baez also asked if any of the 15 cadavers' hair had been exposed to trash or garbage. It hadn’t.

Baez stated he had a problem with having two power points (cumulative), it was unfair prejudice. He also objected to the climate difference, and the fact that it would be improper bolstering. He also added that a problem with the late disclosure was that they had no time to duplicate the tests themselves. There were two different scenarios as to climate.

To add to that, Baez said that there were too many photographs and that this study was done for the case!

Under questioning by Judge Perry, Shaw said the state and defense together in 2008 were informed that the study was completed. He also said that Mr. Lowe had informed them that they had done a study at the time.

Perry also wanted to know the format of the study provided to the state. He said it was hard copy with color pictures. Perry pointed out that the photographs were discussed in a deposition in May and the pictures were forwarded to the defense and the state. The photographs were provided to the defense through an office.

Mr. Ashton said that in March that they had a conference call between all parties. The deposition was May 3, with himself and Ms. Sims. There were e-mails between Sims and the FBI. Counsel was allowed to go to the office and view the photographs in color. Ms. Sims saw the photographs at the FBI field office. At that time, reports were sent to them and the copies were sent to the defense. He was not aware until a moment ago that the defense received the pictures in black and white. The written material was sent to the defense early last week.

Ms. Sims said that they received the material on June 9 and the photos weren't clear. Ashton replied that he was never told the copies of the pictures were unacceptable. She also said that all the photographs were not taken to the deposition. She went to the FBI to look at the pictures and report, but was not permitted to copy.

Jeff Ashton countered that it was (and still is) an ongoing study and the FBI could not release the material.

Perry asked Ashton about the bolstering. He pointed out that this study is about whether post-mortem banding could be created under other conditions.

Baez said that the defense had brought this information to the situation in March. He said he hadn't had a chance to do independent testing to verify this study.

Baez went on at great length about the issue, repeating what he'd already stated. He said the study was not peer reviewed and done for this case.

Ashton had offered to transmit the material to the area where their expert lived, and the defense did not take them up on it.

According to Mr. Shaw, his study was started based on an article saying more research on this issue needed to be done, and this case spurred it on.

Judge Perry then announced his decision, preceding it with the charges against Ms. Anthony. He pointed out it is a death penalty case. The State of Florida had a specific obligation to provide items to the defense, it is not the job of the FBI.

There was no objection lodged by the defense about Mr. Shaw's discovery, but he is disturbed that the color pictures were not provided to the defense. The state could not use the PowerPoint presentations. However, Mr. Shaw could testify to the study.

Judge Perry then warned the defense not to “open the door” to them being admitted in their cross examination

Baez spoke again and stated that they had objected to the study earlier. Perry pointed out that the objections dealt with Frye issues at that hearing.

He also said that he had taken the deposition, he had read the study. Baez did not point out anything Mr. Shaw testified to that he did not know at deposition.

The judge told Mr. Baez that he was standing by his ruling, that the defense didn't have an opportunity to view the color photos ahead of time .

Baez had a brief discussion with Ms. Sims and then said they wanted to question the witness more. The judge wisely pointed out that he would have to find prejudice. Baez again pointed out that the defense did not have time to duplicate the study with their own expert.

Perry pointed out that scientific studies come up every day, and the reasons Baez gave had no reason for an objection.

The jury was returned and Mr. Shaw continued on direct examination with Jeff Ashton.

Ashton began with asking what was his motivation to do the study. Shaw said he had read a study that suggested that additional research was needed to compare decomposition in pre- and post-mortem decomposition. He agreed that he had started the study earlier because of this case.

The goal of his research was to recreate banding in hair from living individuals. He got the hair for the study by asking volunteers.

Baez objection/ they didn't have this information/overruled.

Shaw received pulled hairs from 15 individuals. There were males and females with an age range of 3 - 50's.

He reviewed all the situations in which he placed the hairs. They were indoors, outdoors, under different physical conditions.

I will spare you the details here. This information is largely the same as the shortened version I gave earlier.

Shaw stated that when he studied the hairs from the live people, he found no examples of hair banding.

His blind testing, done by the two examiners showed each made one mistake. When they got together, they spotted each other's error. That sort of conferencing is what would happen in real-world testing (peer review). In the study, he found decomposition in the hairs, he found none that had post-mortem banding.

Mr. Shaw had brought a copy of a picture of the actual Q-12 hair we missed out on with Ms. Lowe's testimony!

Jose Baez had no objection to this hair, probably because he made a big stink about not having it for Ms. Lowe's testimony.

Mr. Shaw said it was an example of post-mortem root banding. It was not seen in any of his studies with live hairs.

Baez motion to strike/denied.

Baez then conferred with Ms. Simms and approached the podium to cross examine the witness.

Then he asked if the hair found on Suburban Drive was not similar. Shaw pointed out that the hairs from the site had the banding, but had the brush-like root (due to further decomposition).

Baez then asked if the thesis from John Jay College had samples of root banding. Shaw said that they had banding higher up on the root.

According to Shaw the hair mass had little root material left, again due to decomposition.

In the study, they found banding down to the root bulb and striations further up on the root shaft.

Baez pointed out that while the differences in root banding were clear to him, the examiners in the study did originally mis-identify one hair each. Mr. Shaw reinforced that when the two examiners went back and compared the results, they found the two which they had mis-identified.

Baez kept going over and over the fact that the two examiners (who had less experience than him) MADE MISTAKES! Mr. Shaw kept saying that when "peer-reviewed" the two agreed on the misidentified root banding.

Shaw stated that root-banding is pretty well established. It's noticing the differences that is important. As with Ms. Lowe, Baez stated that this is the first time he is ever testifying about root banding.

Shaw also said that he asked for a validation study of his research to be expedited to be in time for this trial. He again stressed that root banding is established in the scientific community.

Baez got him to agree that he can't say that post-mortem root-banded hair comes from a dead person.

Baez then pointed out that he initially received the one hair (Q-12) and then moved on to transfer hair. (We heard this with Ms. Lowe as well. Baez believes that it is crucial to say that the hair was transferred to the trunk: he's again trying to say Caylee was never in the car.)

Then, Baez brought out that the study was done at Quantico, VA from April to March of the following year.

With that Baez was finished.

On re-direct, Ashton asked about the brushing ends at the root. Shaw said that it was a sign of further decomposition.

The two hairs that had been missed by the examiners were submerged in water.

Shaw has seen thousands of hairs. He has never seen hair banding on a specimen from a live body.

Baez attempted to bring in the conclusion of the John Jay thesis. Jeff Ashton objected on grounds of hearsay. A side bench conference was called.

Baez then returned to ask 2 questions.

1. Decomposition due to exposure to the elements could be confused with root-banding. Answer: With good training, not so.

2. Because the hair had the root still exposed, does that mean it was pulled out? Answer: It could have been.
My comment is that it could indeed have been a transfer hair that fell intact from Caylee’s head after decomposition had begun.

I missed Jeff Ashton's last question!

The next witness was Elizabeth Fontaine, she works as a physical scientist for the FBI, she works in the forensic fingerprint section. She gave her educational background and training with the FBI which brought her to her position there. She received her certification in July, 2008 and served a 6 month period of probation.

She received duct tape obtained from the remains. The tape was entered into evidence.

Jeff Ashton asked how she separated the pieces of duct tape. One piece was received separately, two were stacked together. An investigator in the trace evidence unit separated it.

Each piece was approximately 6-8 inches in length. The glue was almost gone and the tape was no longer sticky. The adhesive had migrated towards one end of the thread and formed a plastic mass. The strings in the fabric of the tape had separated from the tape.

She examined them for latent finger prints. She had been told the tape was found on the remains from an area subjected to flooding. (Objection/overruled)

She did not expect latent prints to be found due to the environmental issues. She still went through her normal process. She was not able to find any latent fingerprints.

During her examination she noted in her notes that... (objection/overruled) on Q-63 she saw an outline of a heart appeared on one of the corners of the edge. She was using an alternate light source.

It is utilized SuperGlue to visualize items seen in non-flat situations.

The outline she saw was approximately the size of a dime. It was similar to glue or debris left behind by a band-aid worn for a length of time.

She did not believe it was significant at the time, but noted it in her file and told her supervisors. One of her supervisors viewed it. She did not photograph it.

In looking for fingerprints, she followed FBI protocol to note the unusual item. After completing her examination, the heart shape was no longer visible. The dye stains she used to visualize super glue apparently caused it to disappear.

She had no idea who put it there, how it got there, or why it was put there.

Baez was again up on cross.

Ms. Fontaine could not track the duct tape from the crime scene to her lab. She received the tape from the Trace Evidence Unit. They had her look at the tape to see if there were any visible prints. Then, they searched it for trace evidence and then it came to her.

She started with Q-62, the single piece first.

Baez led her through the entire examination in detail.

1. Visual examination
2. Laser inspection (some fingerprints fluoresce)
3. UV light
4. Full collection of evidence from trace unit.
5. She received the tape back and repeated steps 1-3 because Q-63 and Q-64 were no longer stuck together.
6. SuperGlue fuming (it is attracted to moisture in fingerprint)
7. RUVES (?) system. Ultra-violet light which is placed on a monitor for viewing.
8. RAM dye stain process to bring up color on Super-Glue.
9. Black powder, mixed with water and painted on. Only used on items with glue.
10. Black powder dusting

All but one test was used on both sides of the tape.

Q-63 had the heart shape outline.

Her report stated that the pieces of tape had no fingerprints.

Baez asked Lafontaine if she was aware that piece of evidence was contaminated! Objection-side bar.

After a long side bar, Mr. Ashton's objection was sustained.

She filled out a report as to what her conclusions were. It was done after a complete and total examination and she found no fingerprints.

Jeff Ashton finished off saying that Q-63 was on top of Q-64.

Jeff Ashton then stated that they have run out of witnesses. There will be no more testimony until tomorrow at 1:30.

Judge Perry said that the prosecution should wrap up their case by tomorrow or Wednesday.

If possible, the defense will start their case on Wednesday.

So far, we are ahead of schedule.

By Saturday, they will be able to judge how long the defense case will last. Perry also indicated that it was possible the defense would be finished by June 26.

Cheney Mason had an objection to that and another side bar was held.

Court is in recess for the balance of the day. Court will reconvene at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon, providing his witnesses arrive on time.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this tremendous undertaking and quick turn-around.

It finally appears that we are getting closer and closer to that day when we will have achieved our collective goal of achieving Justice for Caylee!

Anonymous said...

I fully expected to see the tattoo evidence; it vividly goes to motive or at least shows she was not stricken with grief in the loss of her daughter. Have there been any court rulings made about the tattoo?

ritanita said...

Yes, the tattoo can be put into evidence, or at least a picture of it! There are a lot of people who believe that the tattoo artist may be called to testify at the end.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the updates....the tattoo artist testifying that the tattoo means a beautiful life might be the coup de gras (or however ya say it).

Anonymous said...

Another take on the Tattoo is that she could claim that this was in memory of Caylee. Referring to the beautiful life that Caylee was. So, it could be a double edged sword. I really trust this prosecution team to be able to read the jury and the defense such as it is.


Sandy said...

Is it possible Mason was objecting to the determination by the judge that the defense was going to have a certain amount of time to present their case? Or could it have been that the defense doesn't have much of a case to present?

ritanita said...

Good morning Sandy!

That's a pretty good question and I wish I had an answer for you!

I so wish we could hear what goes on at side-bar as it happens, but that's not to be.

Perhaps Perry was hinting to the defense that they'd better get their act together? Mason and Baez could really clog up the defense case with witness after witness who can only offer hearsay testimony or character evidence.

One of the most used hearsay exclusions is that of statements that go against the interest of the defendant.

I have no idea what the defense will be up to, but based on Baez' opening statement, it should be very, ahem, interesting!

Anonymous said...

Geraldo tweeted last night: "I'm told that the last prosecution witness will be Danny Colomarino, the tatoo artist who inked Casey in the days her daughter was missing - GR"

ritanita said...

LOL! Lots of people are saying that he will testify last. I am usually wrong in my predictions, but I certainly hope that the state ends with something a little more spectacular than that.

Tim Miller comes to mind, he has a lot he could testify to.

The tattoo just doesn't seem to be the strongest evidence to end with. It can be interpreted in more than one way. It could mean a "beautiful life" for Casey without Caylee, or a commemorative in memory of a "beautiful life" left unfinished. We should find out soon!