Friday, June 17, 2011

Casey Anthony Trial: Day 21

The defense opened their case in chief yesterday with a big snoozer! According to Bill Sheaffer, they really didn't accomplish very much. I have to agree with him. We learned that there was no blood in the trunk. Surprise! Caylee was double-bagged in plastic with the probability that some fluid leaked during the early phases of decomposition. Considering the Florida heat and humidity in late June and early July, there is no wondering that any DNA which might have escaped the bag deteriorated rapidly. Aside from a tad of DNA on the duct tape left behind by contamination at the FBI lab, there was none at all on the tape. There is no wonder to that, either for the same reasons. The tape lost contact with the body as it decomposed and six months of exposure to swampy water, heat, and humidity not only degraded the DNA and fingerprints, it degraded the tape itself. The jury will get to see that for themselves in deliberations when they can get up-close and personal with the evidence. As for the grieving mother herself, Casey seemed upbeat on the 3rd anniversary of her child's death.

Buggy Day!

Things got off to a bit of a late start today. At 9:03, Judge Perry mounted the bench and called court to order.

Dr. Huntington will be the first witness for the defense. Baez brought up that the witness is a diabetic and may need a break.

Judge Perry asked Baez how long he expected to see him on the stand. Baez said that it would not be as long as Heather Seubert.

A reminder here, Dr. Huntington is a former student of prosecution entomologist Dr. Neil Haskell.

The jury was called into the courtroom and Dr. Timothy Huntington took the stand.

He is a forensic entomology consultant and an assistant professor at Concordia College in Nebraska. He gave his educational background and other information to be admitted as an expert in forensic entomology. He has actively practiced in this field since 2002.

He is one of 15 certified forensic entomologists in the country.

Huntington testified that he prefers to collect his own evidence if possible. Specimens are sent to him from crime scenes further away.

During the presentation of his credentials, there was a bench conference. Ashton's objection was overruled.

He has testified 8 times previously.

Baez asked how he got involved in the case. He said that he received a phone call from Linda Kenney-Baden on December 11, 2008 and he decided to fly to Florida on December 13, 2008.

He received the entomology reports from Dr. Neil Haskell. He reviewed the evidence at the OCSO, he viewed the car, and was sent the majority of material sent to Dr. Haskell. He did not receive the vacuum sweepings from the trunk liner. He did receive Dr. Haskell's report on those.

Baez next question was for Dr. Huntington to explain how forensic entomology works.

Dr. Huntington spoke very fast! He said that forensic entomology generally deals with time since death based on study of the growth of insects that inhabit the remains or are near it.

Baez asked Dr. Huntington to draw a picture! Oh boy! The weasel will soon be there, complete with multiple colors! First, Huntington described the metamorphosis of flies. Maggots eat (1st stage larva), they grow, and hatch. They continue to feed and molt and turn into maggots, and continue to grow and pupate (make a cocoon), continue to grow and become full-fledged flies.

I left out most of the details, but you get the idea!

Baez then asked if the pupae change locations. Huntington said that most of the ones associated with dead bodies crawl away from their food source to prevent other insects and animals eating them. Depending on the species and environment, they can go at least 30-50 feet away. They have been known to crawl over 100's of feet.

Finally, Jeff Ashton objected to this entomology lecture and asked to approach the bench.

So far, Dr. Huntington has not testified to one fact about this case other than he had received specimens to examine.

When the sidebar broke up, Judge Perry dismissed the jury so that they could discuss a legal matter.

Baez then questioned Dr. Huntington as a proffer. He asked if he conducted a PMI interval, which he didn't. Dr. Haskell did give a time range which may or may not be considered PMI. Then, he said based on the maggots found in the car, there could have been a PMI estimate.

Baez then asked if there was any more he planned to testify as to PMI. He said that was all he would say.

Jeff Ashton then asked about the possibility of a PMI from the maggots from the trunk. Huntington said that the evidence was not there that the maggots came from a human body

Ashton said he had no problems since Dr. Haskell was not going to talk about the trunk and not the scene.

Judge Perry asked if he filed Dr. Huntington's report. Baez said he was pretty certain he did, but could provide the court with another copy. Judge Perry said that "if it's here, it's here."

From what I could figure out after this mess, was that Baez was leading the witness towards a discussion of the Suburban site, which seems not to be in his report. I can remember when Perry reminded the lawyers that all reports had to be turned in by a certain time or they could not be testified to. From the sounds of what Judge Perry said, perhaps Dr. Huntington's report is AWOL. We later found out it was.

Judge Perry called a 10 minute break and the attorneys, met again at side bar with the court reporter.

Then, there was a break in the trial coverage for a presser by Vasco Thompson and his lawyer.

When we returned, we seemed to be ready to move ahead with Dr. Huntington.

It will be interesting if the lesson goes on or we move on to actual testimony about the case. Oh, dear, the witness was asked to step down and continue the entomology lesson!

We've heard the next bit. Dr. Haskell testified to it for the prosecution. It went to the fact that insects are cold-blooded and their growth will be faster in the hot, humid weather. There is a formula that can be applied based on the weather in the area. (As Dr. Huntington goes on with his lecture, I'm waiting for real testimony.)

Finally, we seemed to get near the topic of Dr. Huntington's testimony. Jose Baez had a demonstrative aid (picture of a car from a junkyard). Huntington put bodies of pigs in the trunk to prove what kind of barrier they make to decompositional bugs to enter.

Ashton objected/bolstering/sustained

The car he used was a Ford Probe. In July, 2010, he inspected the Pontiac. It wasn't in original factory condition, the liner had been removed. But he did check for openings, which he said were there. According to Huntington, the junkyard Probe's seal was in factory condition.

He checked on the pig remains daily to check for insects. The weather was cool and rainy at the time. We were then treated to a photograph throughout the back windshield which showed dead flies lining the back window ledge and some live flies. They were blow flies. This photograph was taken on day 10 of the study, in September.

Baez asked him to estimate what the comparison would be for a car in Florida. All Huntington could say was that it was cooler in Nebraska.

We then had the same lecture we heard from Haskell on blow flies. They are very quick to show up to a dead animal.

Yet a third exhibit was shown to the jury. This was a picture of the dead, decomposed pigs in the trunk on day 11. (It was an awful picture from the little I could see of it and it spent a great deal of time facing the jury!)

Jeff Ashton then objected and then asked to question the witness. Huntington only knew the stain was from decompositional fluids based on years and years of experience. Ashton then asked if he'd ever had the substance analyzed. Huntington said he didn't.

After Huntington had been speaking for a short while longer, Ashton again objected/beyond the scope/bench conference.

While this sidebar is going on, the jury was being treated to a blown-up picture of decomposed pigs. I couldn't help but wonder if were seeing images of Caylee in their place?

Once again, the jury was dismissed for another proffer.

First, we learned that the report was not filed in the court file.

Baez then asked Huntington about the stain in the trunk of the car. He asked if it is easily distinguishable and Huntington said it was. It would have an odor and a phenothelene test could be given for blood.

Baez indicated Huntington was questioned about his study during his deposition. Perry then interjected and said that once given, it would be backed up whether it was in his report or his deposition.

Baez went to the deposition and quoted that Jeff Ashton had questioned him about the decomposition in the trunk. It said the stain would saturate the carpet liner in a car in Florida in a day.

Ashton mentioned he would wait, since Baez was texting! Judge Perry cautioned the lawyers about such comments. Then, Ashton also mentioned that Huntington had not mentioned phenothelene in his deposition.

Finally, Baez asked the question that Perry wanted to hear. Huntington said that the decompositional fluid that leaches is blackish in color. In the hot temperatures, those body fluids leach rather rapidly.

Jeff Ashton said that the answer Huntington gave was nowhere the same. The black color of the leached fluids was not there, nor were other facts. In addition, these facts were outside his field of expertise. Ashton said this was outside the field of entomology.

Baez argued to the color of the stain, not the color of the decompositional fluid. Baez said it was not outside his field of expertise. Dr. Haskell gave a long lesson about the phases of human decomposition.

Perry then wanted his memory refreshed as to what Haskell testified to on Saturday. Baez answered giving a complete description of the processes involved in decomposition.

Ashton had no objections as to that particular testimony, he did object to the testimony of the stain.

Baez said that Haskell testified to the fluids of decomposition in the stain and the napkins.

Perry then took the attorneys back to the deposition. They were to read the 4 pages involved and to tell him how similar or dissimilar it was to Dr. Haskell's testimony.

When finished reading, Judge Perry read questions concerning the cleaning of a trunk of decomposition (paper towels). Huntington had said no.

The surprise for Mr. Ashton was that Huntington never claimed to identify adipocere in the trunk. Now he would testify that it would have to be a particular color.

Dr. Haskell, according to Ashton, said that the insects would be attracted to decompositional fluids in the napkins. He didn't recall asking Haskell to identify the stain.

Baez said that he rendered his opinion.... oops... Judge Perry is pulling up Haskell's testimony!

Baez came back to the podium with the text of Dr. Haskell's testimony. Dr. Haskell had sent the napkins to Dr. Vass to get them tested.

The end result was that the testimony did not violate the court's order. Dr. Haskell talked about decomposition. While all of Dr. Huntington's opinions were not in the deposition, it would be error to disallow the testimony.

Perry said that the jury will have to decide what to believe. He did warn Mr. Baez not to get too enthused and turn him into an expert in something he is not.

Mr. Ashton would be able to question the witness on this testimony.

Jeff Ashton indicated that he still had an objection to the reference to phenothelene. Perry said he could ask the witness as to his knowledge about this.

The witness returned to the stand and the proffer continued.

Jeff Ashton asked Dr. Huntington about his background in stain identification. His experience was watching dead animals and people decompose on carpet. Ashton asked the color of the carpet. Huntington didn't remember. Huntington testified that human decomposition stains are a dark, blackish stain. He gave some general reference to taphonomic studies, but couldn't think of one off the top of his head. He did give the name Beneke, as an author.

Ashton asked if black was the only color mentioned. Huntington had not studied the carpet in this case. Ashton then asked if there were any other qualities of decompositional stains. Huntingtom mentioned that it's a greasy stain with a distinct smell. He was then asked about stains that appeared from bodies wrapped in two plastic bags. Huntington said that had no experience with that.

Judge Perry then talked to Dr. Huntington. He asked when he arrived at the opinion and if he would give a description of the stain in the Sunfire.

Huntington said he wasn't expecting to be asked about the carpet in that car.

Perry then asked what he was going to testify to. Huntington listed what he would say.

Perry asked if there were things he might have seen obviously due to cleaning. Huntington said that it's either there or not there, it is very obvious. He added that stained areas cannot be cleaned.

Perry then asked about his testimony on this topic. Huntington said he never testified on stains in cars. Perry then asked what would make him qualified to testify on those matters in this case.
Huntington said that he saw pictures of the carpet and had the opinion that the carpet had been cleaned.

Huntington shared with the defense that there was no proof that there was a decomposing body in the trunk.

He was asked if he knew that all opinions he would give had to be in the reports. Nobody asked him to do an addendum. Huntington had said his was an interim report but he never sent a final report.

Huntington said that he informed Jose Baez of his opinions in 2008.

Judge pointed out that the defense knew in 2008 and did not disclose the information to the court! (About the stain in the car.)

Baez questioned Huntington and asked if Baez had asked him to send him a report. Huntington agreed that Baez had not told him to leave things out.

The questions went on and on. Huntington had assumed he would be testifying to generalities.

Then, Baez said, "THAT'S ALL WE WERE GOING TO DO!"

Ashton pressed on about the testimony about the stain because he was completely unaware this would be an issue. Perry said that a stain is the discoloration of a color. Huntington will not be allowed to testify about the stain in the Pontiac, only stains in general.

Jose Baez then continued his direct examination once the jury was returned. He had Dr. Huntington step down and showed another picture to him.

Huntington said it would not be possible to wipe up the stain because of the greasy nature of the stain. The item would have to be thrown away.

There ensued a series of questions and adamant objections to the answers as unresponsive which were sustained.

Huntington seemed to be unraveling a bit under the stress.

Finally, he mentioned that certain flies would only feed on bodies just after death. (blow flies)

Finally, Baez got to THIS case. There was the leg of one blow fly in the trash bag. Huntington said that it had no meaning to the case. If there were a body in the trunk, there would have been hundred, thousands flies in the trunk and in the passenger compartment. Huntington then testified to the phorid flies that were on the paper towels in the trash bag. He said that they are very common and we have them in our homes all the time. Since they were inside the trash bag, there presence was to be expected, since it was a garbage bag in the trunk. He stated they were not of forensic value. There were not a huge number of them. As Dr. Haskell also stated, they are not early colonizers.

At this point, Jose Baez suggested it would be a good time to break for lunch.

It's lunch time, and I have to say that Jeff Ashton is hoping Jose Baez will soon finish his direct examination. Once done, and Dr. Huntington will say that there is no proof that there was a body in the car, but, he also said he had no experience with bodies double wrapped in plastic bags in a car. Dr. Haskell testified in another case where there were no blowflies, o
nly coffin flies around a body. Based on the presence of those flies, Dr. Haskell was able to aid the prosecution by indicating that the body had first decomposed in plastic bags. The culprit is doing life in prison right now.

Why am I writing now? Who can eat lunch after all that gross testimony this morning! I am so waiting for cross examination by Jeff Ashton!

Back after lunch, we were treated to a couple of minutes without sound and saw Judge Perry and Mr. Ashton speaking.

Whatever the problem, it seems that there was a question that may or may not be "fair game" according to the judge. He said it would have to wait until after Baez finished the testimony. From the context of what was said, it seemed to be about to Dr. Haskell's qualifications. We shall have to wait and see.

The jury returned to the courtroom and Mr. Baez continued with his direct.

We began with the items in the trunk of the Pontiac Sunfire and the garbage bag. Baez asked if there was anything of evidentiary value found outside the garbage bag. Huntington said there were some entomological specimens and the vacuum sweepings. He believed that there was a small number of specimens outside the bag.

Baez then asked Huntington if there was a difference between trash and garbage. The witness said he used the terms interchangeably. He was aware of the paper towels in the bag. Huntington said they contained scuttle fly puperia. There was no live activity, just casings. He said, given the articles inside the trash bag, it didn't surprise him to see them. A crumpled up paper towel would make a good place to pupate in. Huntington said that the paper towels could have been used to pupate because at that point, they leave the food at that point.

Baez then addressed the garbage. Huntington said that the flies were attracted to the cans of tobacco spit. There was also a dried of piece of meat in a bologna container when he looked at the picture of the trash.

Baez then asked to publish his infamous double photograph of trash.

Huntington mostly used the dry photograph. He said that the damp trash would attract the insects more. Maggots don't feed well on dry material. He also said that the flies in the bag would not need a substantial piece of food. He also indicated that the flies are attracted to the smell of decomposition.

He also said that an empty container of Stauffer's food could also have bacteria in it to cause decomposition. He said that there was a Velveeta box that had a number of phorid puperia attached to it. Some were also attached to a piece of paper. They had crawled away from what they were feeding on to pupate.

Baez then went on to the site off Suburban Drive. The insect material from the recovery site were what one would expect to find. What were missing were the blow flies. Their absence was unusual. Huntington's conclusion was that the body was moved from some other location to the site where it was discovered.

As Baez was moving on to the next question, the lawyers went to the side bar.

When it ended, Judge Perry told Baez to continue. Baez asked more about how he knew the body was moved. He said that in an outdoor environment, the bodily fluids leach into the soil underneath it and changes the environment under it. If there were sealed plastic bags, Huntington would not expect to see that. They would spill out if there were holes in the bag.

Baez was obviously winding up, he went over to talk with Cheney Mason. He had no more questions.

Jeff Ashton asked if the body was fully skeletonized elsewhere when it was placed at the scene. Huntington said it wasn’t. Ashton then asked a number of questions about the stage of decomposition when the body was placed there. Huntington gave a rather convoluted answer. Ashton asked the number of degree days it would take for a child to decompose, Huntington said that he didn't know the numbers on that.

We then went into a complicated explanation of degree days which went way over my head.

From that point on, I had to limit myself to figure out the basic answers.

What Ashton was trying to find out was, how long it would have taken the body to decompose to the point where his findings would be sensible.

Ashton asked how long did Huntington believe the body was some place else prior to being placed at the site. Huntington answered it would be 2-4 days of death assuming environmental conditions such as 95 degree days (as was the temperature in Orlando today).

This body was in another location for 2-3 days, according to Ashton. The body would have had to been in some place for the early colonizers to get to it. Huntington said there were a few early colonizers that were found with the body.

My head started spinning at that point yet again. Huntington's answers were couched with many qualifiers.

From what I could tell, Huntington had admitted that the body had to be moved late in the feeding stage of the maggots with only a few remaining. That was just ONE of the scenarios he presented!

Ashton was getting frustrated with the verbal gymnastics. He finally got Huntington to agree that Dr. Haskell's scenario was possible.

Ashton then directed Dr. Huntington to Dr. Haskell's January 28, 2011 deposition and had him read the pertinent issue about the reason for the lack of early colonizers (blow flies). Then, Ashton took Huntington to his own deposition. Huntington agreed that there was nothing much he disagreed with concerning the site in his deposition.

Ashton then asked if Huntington if he disagreed with Haskell NOW!

Huntington waffled and said it was one possibility. Then, he said it depended on the environmental circumstances. Ashton asked if there was anything different in his opinion NOW about the environmental circumstances.

Ashton then asked if the place where the body had been would stink and you wouldn't be able to get the stink out. Huntington agreed. He also agreed with Haskell's saying that the body was placed in the woods 3-5 days after death.

Huntington testified that in July, 2010 he examined the car. The lining had been removed and the garbage removed two years previously...

Baez requested a side bar.

Ashton was addressing the odor in the car and when he returned from side bar, Huntington admitted that there was a smell in the car, but that he couldn't identify it with decomposition. Then, he backed off further and said it could smell like a bag of garbage. Ashton hammered him a bit on that and moved on to his experiment.

Ashton put the pig picture up and asked the witness to step down.

While waiting for Baez to come over to view the exhibit, Ashton asked about his experiment. Huntington said he did his pig experiment in September 2010, in Nebraska. In so many words than necessary, he said it wasn't done for this case. Huntington also told the defense that he was doing the experiment. He said it had been in the back of his mind for a long time. He had done other experiments for this case, but not this one. (One would logically wonder why he would not present an experiment which was related to this case!)

Ashton got him to admit he never did body-in-trunk experiments before. Huntington said he also did research in the literature. When asked by Ashton if any of his reading involved the body of a young child in the car, the witnesses replied that none of them involved small children. When asked how many involved a small child wrapped in a blanket. None. How many of them a child wrapped in a blanket and a garbage bag. None.

My favorite question came when Ashton asked "Why didn't you wrap the pigs in a blanket?" Ashton told the judge he'd promised he'd say it.

Ashton made it very clear that in no way did he attempt to place all the barriers to the bugs that were there for Caylee.

Huntington said that, even if he had done that, the flies STILL would have gotten in.

I thought that why one did experiments, to find out if what he said would be true! The headache was growing.

Ashton asked why sealed trash bags wouldn't keep bugs out? Isn't that why we use them?

Huntington said that when a fly can smell the chemicals of the food and the female fly would lay eggs on the boundary of the bag. The maggots would then hatch and crawl into the bag.

Ashton then ask if Huntington put chloroform in the trunk to see what would happened to the flies. He hadn't. He then asked what the effect of chloroform would have on flies with a dead body in the car. Huntington said there had been no research on the topic, but that in high enough quantities, it could kill the flies.

I never got to mention that Baez was objecting like crazy and being overruled.

Ashton pressed strongly on the idea that the chloroform present in the trunk would change the chemical signature of the odor and inhibit fly infiltration

Huntington kept saying that it would take a 100% saturation of chloroform to do that. We were then treated to the ways flies smell which I couldn't share with you if I wanted to.

Finally, Ashton moved on to the paper towels. Huntington said he didn't know what was on the twoedl. He had a report from Dr. Vass which said there were fatty acids on it. Huntington did not test the paper towels himself.

Ashton had Huntington identify what adipocere was for the jury. He gave a brief description and then said that flies would not pupate on food.

Ashton showed the "dry" garbage picture and pointed to the Crystal Light bottle of tobacco spit. Huntington said that there were others. He testified that the tops of some of the cans showed the remnants of tobacco on the outside of the cans. Since it was not visible on the cans in the picture, Jeff Ashton opened the evidence box with the garbage and pulled out the cans.

Baez objected, saying the cans might not be in the same condition. Perry overrruled it.

Ashton opened one bag and showed them to the witness. It was clean. Ashton removed a second can, and Huntington was able to point out that there were tobacco remnants on it. (Score one for Dr. Huntington.) Ashton pointed out that there was nothing in the can, it was empty.

Next, Ashton showed the witness an inventory of the trash and that indicated that all the containers were empty. Huntington said that there were photographs of the cans with entomological remnants on them.

Ashton then asked if tobacco spit never smells like human decomposition. Huntington wouldn't agree, because the saliva could decompose and smell. When Ashton said that saliva would not smell the same as human decomposition, Huntington agreed.

Then Ashton went on to say that there was no food in the bag. Huntington said that there was not food in there that he would want to eat. Huntington said that there was a photograph of the salami container that showed something inside of it. He couldn't tell if it were a remnant scrap of food, but he couldn't tell.

Ashton said he'd pull out the salami container!

Judge Perry wisely called for an 18 minute recess.

For some reason, my feed started playing from after lunch. Since then, I learned that Jeff Ashton did indeed, put on his blue plastic gloves and pulled out the salami container. It was empty!

When I got the live feed back, Ashton was discussing degree days and whether or not Huntington's experiment matched the real life scenario. The conclusion was that with the hotter weather, decomposition would happen faster.

Baez then got up on re-direct and indicated that Huntington and Haskell agreed on the recovery site. They agreed that the body had been moved from someplace else after some decomposition took place.

There were blow flies in the canvas laundry bad. Dr. Haskell's report indicated that there were 75 puperia, not very many. Baez asked if he would expect to find 75 in the car? Huntington said there should have been many more.

Baez asked a question about the difference in his and Haskell's opinion that the body had been in the car. Ashton objected and there was a side bar. Judge Perry overruled the objection. Dr. Haskell said it was in the car. He said the evidence didn't make sense, to say that the body was in the car.

Baez then asked about the chloroform. Huntington said that it would not prevent colonization.

Baez kept leading the witness and Ashton kept objection objecting.

When Baez asked about Dr. Vass' air tests, Ashton objected vigorously. Then, Baez tried to lay a foundation by asking if air samples are acknowledged in the forensic science community. That question didn’t work and there was another objection when Baez attempted to reword the question. Ashton objected to yet another version and there was another side bar.

After the sidebar, Jose Baez went on to the adipocere in Dr. Vass' report. Huntington read it and in rereading it, stated that it said that fatty acids like adipocere was on the towels. Baez pointed out that meat products and other such items could cause it to occur.

I couldn’t help but think of Dr. Vass’ description of the 10 pound raw, rotten hamburger eaten with a bag over one’s head!

Baez then asked Dr. Huntington about adipocere. Jeff Ashton pointed out that he is an entomologist.

Jeff Ashton was permitted to voir dire the witness. Huntington said he learned about adipocere through his experiments and observations of decomposition. In his research, he also learned about it.

Ashton asked him if he'd ever tested for adipocere, and he hadn't. Huntington said his actual study of adipocere came from his observations.

Unfortunately, Ashton spoke over the answer and all the lawyers and the court reporter were called to the bench for a verbal spanking by the judge. Dr. Huntington had lost his train of thought.

Ashton continued with his voir dire. Once again, Dr. Huntington explained how he knew it was adipocere.

Ashton then asked if a forensic anthropologist would be able to say that. Huntington said he didn't know that Dr. Vass was an anthropologist. Ashton objected and the answer was stricken.

Then, Ashton sat down.

Under Jose Baez’ questioning, Dr. Huntington gave an explanation of how adipocere is formed in cool, oxygen restricted area, such as with a buried body. He waffled about there being different situations to say when and how it was formed. He also said it comes in the later stages of decomposition.

Baez then moved on to the garbage. Baez pointed out to the witness that the garbage was three years old and was dried. It was altered. Huntington agreed. Baez then pointed out that what Ashton showed him would not be the same and it would be difficult to render an opinion about it.

That question from Mr. Baez was objected to, but Huntington was able to say he would expect the garbage to look different now.

Baez then pointed out that neither he nor Dr. Haskell saw the garbage when it was in the original condition.

Huntington volunteered that the first thing HE would have done was have the insect guts tested... (Objection to the answer/sustained.) Another question. (Objection/sustained.)

Baez then asked if maggots eat scraps of food. Huntington said that they did.

Baez then showed a picture of the trash bag and zoomed in on the knot of the bag. Maggots and insects were able to get into the bag. Huntington agreed.

Next, Baez questioned him about the stain in his study. Huntington said that if he had done the experiment for this case, he would have done it in a better manner and in the summer time in Florida.

Baez then put up pictures of the stain in his test car and the stain from the Pontiac. Before Baez could finish his question, there was an objection and yet another side bar.

Back from side bar, Baez was allowed to have his question read back.

Essentially, he had asked Huntington if the one in the Pontiac was a decompositional stain. The witess said it did not look like a decomposition. He said the stain in his photo was a good example.

Baez then went on to the smell. Baez tried to elicit the amount of time it would take for the smell to become evident. All his questions on the topic were objected to and sustained.

Baez had Huntington say that he never rendered the opinion that chewing tobacco and trash smell like a decomposing body.

Baez was finished.

Ashton was up.

Ashton asked Huntington what the condition of the trash was when it was in the trunk. Assuming that nothing was added to the bag, there was no food in the bag. Huntington agreed. Just because the bag got wet, non-food items do not become food. Huntington agreed.

Ashton pointed out Huntington got his MS in 2005 and his PhD in 2008. He never studied adipocere and decomposition. Huntington explained that his experience began when he worked as an assistant in a mortuary service at the age of 16. He had seen hundreds, thousands of bodies in that condition. (It’s a wonder he has no idea of what a decomposing body smells like, even in small amounts.)

Ashton got him to admit that he’d never studied the nature of stains. This was the first time he'd ever been asked to identify a stain as human decomposition from a photograph.

Ashton pointed out that Huntington wrote a report. He was told to put every opinion about the case in it. Huntington said he did. Ashton told him that there was no opinion in his report about identifying the stain as not being from human decomposition.

Ashton went on to point out that his picture was not a representation of what happened in this case. Huntington gave the weak answer that he didn't say it did!

Ashton sat down.

Baez asked if he was the youngest certified forensic entomologist by the American Board on Entomology prior to receiving his PhD. He had consulted on over 75 cases.

As for the report of he stain, Baez asked if he knew he was going to be asked this line of questioning. He didn't put it in his report because he didn't think it would be brought up with him!

Baez was finished.

Ashton told Huntington that he had said that he’d never been asked about a stain. Huntington said he'd never been asked-- in a court of law. He discussed the stain with Baez in 2008, yet he didn't put it in his report. He said it was because he only wrote about the insects and there was no reason to consider a body in the trunk.

Ashton again asked if he knew he was to put all his opinions in the report.

Aston ended by asking if there was certified by a board in identifying stains. Huntington said no!

With Ashton finished, Judge Perry told the jury they were going to enjoy their dinner tonight and that court would be in session again tomorrow at 9:00.


GeeMama said...

Remember Simon Birch, the tow guy with the cool accent? He testified that hundreds of flies flew outta the trunk of the sunfire when he opened it with George Anthony.

Sandy said...

I wonder if anyone watching this drama will ever be able to eat 'pigs in a blanket' again without being reminded of hogs in a trunk... and what was the promise of Bye-ass? "It won't be as long as yesterday," with the witness?

Thank you for an enlightening report... I had feed problems, too, but you filled in the gaps and did a good job of it, too~

FRG said...


Thank you very much fir your summary, you are great!

OMG! I "almost" felt sorry for TH! LOL

Mr. Ashton made TH regrets to have testified in this case, I bet! TH came across to me as a deceiving witness that tried to accommodate the defense's theory to make his own name! That didn't work, Mr. Ashton made him look really really bad! IMO

*Doing the happy dance*!

*High five ritanita*! you gotta love Mr. Ashton!

See you tomorrow for Dr. Spitz testimony! *yawn yawn*

NancyB said...

I love your blog and look forward to reading here each day. You are a gifted writer.

Jeff Ashton was a cross between a rottweiler and a pitbull against Dr Tim. Just excellent. Huntington kept stumbling and several times when flustered he gave incorrect/dishonest testimony. He told Baez that adipocere is often not found in children. If you Google adipocere it says “commonly found on young children when decomposing” because of their high fat content.

He then stated that there are only 15 board certified entomologists but their national website lists over 10 pages of names of BCE’s.

Ashton asked Huntington if in Entomology there is a difference between garbage and trash. He insisted not. I found the Online Etymology Dictionary–It does specify the difference between trash and garbage.

This witness testified that decomp fluids often kill the grass around it, doesn’t this hurt the defense since Cindy testified that they haven’t been able to grow grass in the backyard since 2008?

IIRC Dr Lee left the defense once he found the death wax (adipocere) was in the trunk.

ritanita said...

GeeMama, I remember those flies, but can't figure how they fit in with what Dr. Haskell had to say.

Sandy, I was watching after lunch and it took me a bit to figure out it was a re-run! I really need to go back and look at the video. Unfortunately, I had to shut down due to thunder storms. I lost one computer to lightning, don't want to lose another!

FRG, Baez has to learn that the jury doesn't need a full education from every expert witness. Thursday, it was the document examiner explaining her machine. Yesterday it was Haskell giving a lecture. He is a good teacher, but the jury didn't need all of that.

Haskell got the ideas through in much less time and didn't bore the jury. His testimony was clear and simple to understand.

I went nuts yesterday following Dr. Huntington once the "lesson" ended. He totally confused me with all his verboseness.

In the end, he did agree with Haskell on a major point. He said the body was on Suburban from 2-4 days after death.

That doesn't explain the whole Kronk scenario at all! It doesn't help the "the body wasn't put there until Casey was in jail" scenario either!

NancyB, You are correct when it comes to certified entomologists. Neal Haskell is certified at the site you mentioned, Huntington is not.

However, if you go to you will see that, at the present time there are only 14 Certified Forensic Entomologists! Neal Haskell and Tim Huntington are both diplomats. Oh, and 13 of the 14 members are diplomats! There is only one member at the present time.

I've always known the difference between trash and garbage! The garbage gets the plastic bag, the trash doesn't need it. My only blow fly research had been noted on warm-weather holidays that fall on garbage collection days.

If I leave the loosely sealed, rolling plastic container at the curb for 5 days and have to add stuff in between, I've never had flies!

Anonymous said...

Trash would be recycling materials.

Garbage is NOT recyclable.

Anonymous said...

Huntington not only hemmed and hawed his way through his cross examination by Ashton, his body language (facial expressions, voice intonations, and demeanor) and his actual testimony on cross screamed DECEPTION!

This is NOT lost on the jury!

Huntington definitely came across as a heavily coached (hired to lie) witness. Unfortunately, his performance actually bolstered the State's case!

Anonymous said...

To see the clear difference between trash and garbage really takes common sense. Evidently, Baez and company are greatly lacking in that area or, more likely, simply playing us for fools. Befitting their client, they are the SLEAZE team!

The State should NOT be wasting taxpayers' money by FUNDING peoples' actions that make a total MOCKERY of the justice system!

GeeMama said...

Dr. Tim said there would have been more flies, hundreds of them. However the trunk had already been opened by tow man and George, disturbing the flies by moving the trash out and the flies had an escape route. The trunk was also opened back in the garage to air out. So there WERE lots of flies originally.

Anonymous said...

It is quite apparent that Baez has been acting in a contemptible manner towards Judge Perry. He as well as Mason are argumentative towards Perry. Respect is definitely lacking on their part!

The defense has NO case!

Anonymous said...

Correction to my June 11 entry!
"Dr. Warner Spitz appeared on In Session yesterday and expressed, in his opinion, manner of death: HOMICIDE," When Dr. Spitz was called to the stand a few minutes ago, I was surprised because he is NOT the person I saw on In Session. The bannner on the television screen identifying the person speaking was obviously in error and I apologize for my incorrect entry.

Anonymous said...

The Forensic Pathologist's testimony is USELESS!. He can NOT give an opinion of the manner of death. Therefore, the totality of the circumstances MUST be taken into consideration. GUILTY!!!!

Anonymous said...

This case is really very straight forward -- given the age of Casey and her immature, linear way of thinking. There is really NOTHING complicated about it -- it was NOT a sophisticatedly executed crime! The defense was trying that route but alas it backfired on them and so they have resorted to back pedalling on their opening statement.

Anonymous said...

Evidently, the defense Forensic Pathologist is not only senile, but also a media whore. He also said himself, he has been out of the main stream for a LONG time.

ritanita said...

Hi everybody,

I've just come back to the real world and wanted to get all the posts up.

Werner Spitz' son is also a forensic pathologist. He's into media as well. LOL! Spitz did some media himself for this.

I knew what his testimony would be like, but I'm sorry to say, he's not as "with it" as he was in the Phil Spector trial.

Today's post will take some time. I have to reconstruct a whole section that went "poof" on me. Luckily it was early on and I had a chance to outline it all.

The other reason it will be late is that my brain is fried from making heads or tails of Dr. Spitz testimony, he does ramble on.

Check back in a few hours!

NancyB said...

Dr Spitz's son who is also a ME was on In Session. Not Big Daddy who was a Big Fail today! Jr. is in total agreement with the SA's in this case. How interesting! I can not stand people like the Sr Spitz who have sold out all integrity and obfuscate to line their pockets or stroke their ego's. Shameful The son was also on Dr Drew last night and he is impressive and reality based.

Diane said...

Almost sad watching Dr Spitz today. His family needs to put a stop to his public speaking, ESPECIALLY testifying.
I totally agree with NancyB's assessment, "...sold out all integrity and obfuscate to line the pockets or stroke their ego's."