Monday, July 4, 2011

Casey Anthony Murder Trial: Day 35 Closing Arguments

Happy 4th of July everyone! For once I am happy that my husband and I never travel on holidays. Our 4th will be the same as always. We have a barbeque for two capped off by a walk around the corner to watch the fireworks that are set off in the park just across the street from us. Ten years ago, we would just watch them over the trees from our back porch, but the trees have grown so much, we walk around the corner for an unobstructed view. Meanwhile, we will get to watch the fireworks in Judge Perry's courtroom as Linda Drane Burdick gives her rebuttal closing. I always remember Bill Sheaffer's comment that she uses a surgical knife to carefully dissect a witness. I expect her to do the same thing today with the defense's closing yesterday. Jury instructions will be read and the members of the jury will have to make one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. Let's hope they sift through all the evidence to come to a just verdict.

Judge Perry entered the courtroom at 8:30 sharp. Both sides had received copies of the final instructions. Mr. Baez wanted to clarify an issue. He was saying that he objected to the state having Ms. Burdick doing the rebuttal. He was of the opinion that it was not done as the court order indicated.

Perry stated that if she went beyond the rebuttal, all he would have to do is object.

Surprisingly, Jeff Ashton began speaking first. They split the rebuttal. Ashton addressed the science. He wanted to take a more measured and complex approach, indicating that Baez used a simplistic version. He said that, in a dispute between experts, it is up to the jurors to decide what they believe from what the experts said. He then isolated the science by subject matter.

The first was the forensic pathology and anthropology. He started by saying they heard from Dr. Garavaglia, Dr. Utz, Dr. Schultz, Dr. Michael Warren, and Dr. Werner Spitz.

All of them agreed that there is nothing in the bones that told us anything about how Caylee died. They also agreed that, because of the way the body decomposes, the mandible and the skull should not be together. They agreed that the skull and mandible were in anatomical position as if there were flesh holding them together.

Drs. Garavaglia, Utz, Shultz, and Warren all agreed that the only thing that could have held them together was the tape. The one who had the most experience, in Sarajevo testified that the only skulls with the mandibles intact were the ones that were duct-taped together.

Dr. Spitz' alternative was that someone else had come along afterwards, took the skull and the mandible someplace else, duct taped them together, and brought them back and put them in the spot they were found. Ashton pointed out that his findings were inconsistent with the fact that the duct tape was as degraded as the body. Then, there was the issue of the hair, Dr. Spitz blamed it on the ME's office faking the evidence.

The other difference of opinion was about the necessity to open the skull. Spitz said that since Dr. Garavaglia didn't, he called the autopsy sloppy. On cross, he could not say where there was any protocol. He finally he admitted there wasn't such a protocol.

Dr. Warren indicated it was not necessary to open a skull unnecessarily. It is not sloppy, it fact, it is dangerous to open the skull with a child, because the skull can fracture. Dr. Spitz said he didn't recall fracturing the skull, and he did.

They disagreed on the issue of "brain dust" or residue. Spitz said he could tell by looking at it, he knew it was and indicated the position the skull had originally rested. Dr. Goldberger did the saline wash and testified that it was not what Spitz said it was. Dr. Spitz had a problem with the arrangement of the hair mass based on this theory. Spitz had said that it was important to know the circumstances surrounding the death. Dr. Spitz didn't know much at all. His fund of information was insufficient to make a decision in the case.

The entomological evidence was next. They heard from Dr. Neil Haskell who had practiced 30 years in the field. They heard about Timothy Huntington, who is a bright young man, but had only been practicing for about three years.

They agreed that the evidence at the scene indicated that the body initially decomposed in some other location where the original flies could not get to her. She was then dumped in the swampy area. They both agreed it took place between June and July.

They only diverged on the single issue. They disagreed as to whether the trunk would have excluded the original colonizing flies. Haskell said it was, Huntington said it wasn't, even though he'd never dealt with a dead body in a trunk in real world conditions. He did one experiment with the pigs to decide. It was up to the jury to decide the credibility of these two experts.

Ashton next addressed the chloroform. The jury needed to understand what they were testing and what their perspective was. Ashton explained that Drs. Vass and Dr. Wise are used to looking at environmental air samples. Based on that experience, Wise said that the amount of chloroform was high. Dr. Vass studied decomposiing bodies and had found chloroform before, but not at those high levels. In addition, Dr. Wise explained why the quantification had no meaning because chloroform is a volatile gas.

Dr. Rickenbach tested a similar sample out of a can, and also the spare tire cover out of the box. He told the jury he actually found chloroform in that. She was surprised he found anthing at all. He found a much greater amount of chloroform in the sealed can. His amounts were equivalent to what Dr. Vass found, parts per million. Rickenbach had only studied liquid chloroform before. He said he found detectible amounts of chloroform in a car. It was the first time they had seen this. The amount of chloroform in the trunk was much less than would have been there a month before. The Anthony's aired out the car. There has been no evidence to explain where it came for and why. (objection/overruled)

Dr. Sigmond tested the trunk air four days after the liner had been removed. His method of capture was not as good as what Dr. Vass had used and he found chloroform in the air. He also testified that, by-products of chloroform formation were not found in the car. There were no constituents of dry cleaner material, for example. All that was found was chloroform and elements of human decomposition.

The expert testimony on the odor of decomposition was next. The defense's primary attack on Dr. Vass was about his "sniffer machine" and, if it were sold in the private sector, he and the other inventors would split 15% of the minimal royalties.

Ashton stressed that Dr. Vass is an unapologetic science geek who loves to solve scientific problems! Counsel sneered at Vass for his dowsing experiments. But, perhaps Dr. Vass is on to something. He urged the jury to judge him not by what the defense said about him, but by what testified to in court.

Dr. Vass and Dr. Furton both agreed that the science has not reached the point where they have a signature for the odor of decomposition. Dr. Furton agreed that the odor was possible human remains. Dr. Vass said that when he combined his science and experience, he recognized the odor of human decomposition when he opened the can.

Ashton said that Dr. Furton's other explanation was not plausible. He showed him the garbage which demonstrated that it was not the cause of the odor in the car.

In Baez’ closing, he accused the officers of removing food items from the garbage. The only food in the bag of was a small remnant of cheese. Dr. Furton agreed that the small amount of cheese could cause the odor that lasted two years. Ashton told the jury that the odor was not from garbage, it was from Caylee.

Ashton went on to say that the he defense presented non-DNA evidence. The FBI expert said she didn't expect to find any on the tape that had been on the body for six months. The defense called Dr. Eikelenboom, who gave his report two days before he testified, said only said that he thought he might be able to find some. He also agreed that the two most destructive things which would destroy DNA were moisture and heat.

The defense called ten other witnesses who testified to non-results which were meaningless.

Ashton then moved on to the hair experts. They said that there was an artifact only found in decomposing bodies. Since they didn’t know what causes it, they could only say what they thought, that it was consistent with a dead person.

To say there is no link between Casey Anthony and the death ignored all this testimony.

Ashton gave his version of reasonable doubt. He went through the defense reasons given by Mason yesterday. First was the duct tape. The defense connected the duct tape to the Anthony home. They agreed with that. If George Anthony had decided, for some reason, to put duct tape on Caylee's face and put her in the woods, the defense asserted that, on the 24th, he deliberately notified police of the theft of the duct tape on it to implicate his daughter. It didn’t make sense.

People don't make accidents look like murder. It's absurd. (objection/sustained)

When Caylee did turn up missing, the defense said that George didn't tell the police about the gas can missing. If he had wanted to implicate his daughter, he would have done it.

The police took the gas can, photographed it, and give it back to him. At that point, George Anthony stuck it in the garage and ignored it for four months. In December, when the body was found by the police, they took it into evidence.

George (the nefarious criminal) then took the incriminating duct tape to hang posters! It didn't make any sense, it was patently absurd. (Baez objected every time Ashton used the word absurd/overruled.)

Ashton then addressed the alleged drowning. George Anthony testified it didn't happen. Ms. Anthony was also given the opportunity to adopt that, and rejected it twice.

Counsel also asserted that the crime scene was staged. Baez said that George was connected to the tape and, in opening statements, the defense said that Kronk had used the tape. Kronk had only read their meter once and had no connection to the house.

Ashton put up a photograph of the site on December 11, 2008. The only thing that staged the scene was Mother Nature herself. There were vines growing around and through everything at the scene. The skull was not moved for six months, possibly less if animals used it.

The defense said that Roy Kronk took the remains. Dr. Schultz showed the grouping of the bones. It demonstrated how the body was disarticulated during decomposition. (objection/overruled) They showed that animals had chewed on the bones. They were not scattered by Roy Kronk, but by animals and acts of nature. Ashton showed other evidence photos to show that the hair and skull hadn't moved much, if at all.

The duct tape in another photograph showed that leaf litter had covered parts of it as it was wrapped around the mandible. It didn't just get washed there by water. It was there because Casey Anthony put it there. When the tape was lifted away from the mandible, there were strings that went under the mandible. It wasn't a coincidence, an accident, or water. It was a deliberate placing of the duct tape over the mouth and nose. The scene was not staged. It appeared as it was due to forces of nature.

The state did not call Roy Kronk because his testimony of what he did was embellished, he spun a good yarn. They didn't put him up because his story was incredible. However, Ashton said that Kronk found the skull in August and tried to report it three times and was blown off by the police. The calls to his son were to impress him to help build the relationship. Kronk told a very dramatic story about the skull rolling out. It wasn't true. It was impossible. But, that didn't make him a morally bankrupt individual who would take Caylee's skull home and play with it.

Ashton explained about the two ways Casey could be found guilty of murder in the 1st degree. There were 1st degree and felony murder.

(Mason objected/misstatement of the law/Ashton was reading from the law/overruled.)

He also explained that the jury could have different opinions on 1st degree murder and reach a unanimous decision.

Ashton told the jury that they can reconstruct the events in any way they want. He then explained felony murder. There were two objections which were overruled. Ashton did a great job of providing the jury with various scenarios related to the case to show felony murder.

Ashton went on to talk about George. The jury saw hours of video tape of the family. He asked if there was anything in them that showed anything but a loving father and grandfather. He was perplexed as to why Casey wouldn't tell him anything. He was supportive of her and Casey called him a good father and a great grandfather. Nothing there showed a cover-up.

Most of Casey's conflict was with her mother. George was the thumb, he was not the Machiavellian monster the defense claimed he was. When Baez asked about the suicide letter, he asked if George felt guilt. Then, Baez said it wasn't a real suicide attempt. Ashton said that all George wanted to be with his granddaughter. This man was in pain. Through his handwriting, you could see the deterioration of his handwriting as the drugs and alcohol took effect. Ashton then read a few lines from the letter to focus the jury on what George was feeling at the time.

Ms. Burdick would speak next after a 15 minute recess.

Baez had a brief issue about the computer searches. It was about the Sci-spot hits and the inconsistencies between Net Analysis and Cacheback. They believed the Cacheback information is erroneous and false. They want the state to clarify this in their rebuttal. Ms. Burdick indicated that Mr. Baez had already put that in front of the jury. Judge Perry said they should provide the appropriate motion at the appropriate time. He can't chase after it.

The jury was returned and Ms. Burdick began her rebuttal.

She went into the advantages and disadvantages to being the last to speak. The advantage was that she was the last to speak before the judge tells the law. The disadvantage was that the jury was ready to deliberate after hearing from lawyers for so many hours. She asked them to indulge her for a few moments to get their final thoughts in. She wouldn't be getting out posters or pyrotechnics, it wasn't her style.

Burdick stated that when she gave her opening, she meant what she said. She made no promises she didn't keep. Through the testimony and exhibits, the state has proven all the charges against Casey Marie Anthony.

Mr. Baez had indicated that the jury would be asked to make decisions on emotion. She said that they would not do that. While it was an emotionally charged case, they would only ask them to make their decision on the testimony of the witnesses and the exhibits. She said that her biggest fear was that common sense would be lost in all the rhetoric of the case. She was fearful that they wouldn’t step back and take the evidence as a whole.

Mr. Baez talked about rabbit holes (objection/sustained). We want you to take the evidence as a whole. Mr. Baez, in his closing remarks used words like liar, perjurer, fraudulent. The trial is supposed to be a search for the truth. It is lying that perverts that process. During an argument, when the biggest liar (Casey Anthony through her attorneys) ever seen in a courtroom lies, the irony is rich indeed. (objection/overruled)

Accusing other people of lying is classic Casey Anthony. When she wanted to get the attention off herself, she lied about others. She had spent years lying. Mr. Baez had argued that the 31 days mean nothing.

Ms. Burdick said that a lie told convincingly, is still a lie. The defendant through counsel accused Yuri Melich, Jason Forgey, Gerardo Bloise, Dr. Vass and many of the witnesses of being liars.

She indicated that the OCSO was desperate in this case. If there was anything the people in the OSCO was desperate about, it was to find a little girl. They labored for hours to find her. They were joined by the FBI, FDLE, TES, citizens in looking for her. It was in vain. Even her parents were searching in vain.

False allegations of child abduction are not new. Such allegations drains resources away from the perpetrator, it buys the perpetrator more time. When Cindy Anthony went to pick her up, Casey Anthony said to her mother was that she wanted one more day. When she told her brother about the kidnaping, it was to buy time and draw attention away from herself.

Baez put of pictures of the sheriff’s deputies at the house that night, saying they took no action about the car. The police that night, had no reason to think Caylee Anthony was dead. The defendant was telling them she was alive and she asked for their help in finding her. The episode of her being handcuffed ended "like that" because they were there to help her find Caylee.

At Universal the three detectives said to her that they wanted to help her find her daughter and asked why she was lying. Casey was buying time, like she had done with her parents, her brother, and her friends.

The 31 days were meaningless? Mr. Baez had said that they went more to prove that the state wanted to prove she was a slut?

Law enforcement was trying to backtrack where she said she was conducting her own investigation. They were using her cell phone to try and track down Zenaida. As they backtracked, it became more and more apparent that the defendant was lying about everything. She asked the jurors to look at her 4 page statement, the only truth was Caylee's birth date.

The defense had stated that everybody grieves differently. It may be true, but responses to guilt are also predictable. What do guilty people do? They lie, they avoid, they run, they mislead their own family and the police. They divert attention from themselves and act like nothing is wrong. What she was doing was in no way indicative of grief. It was not indicative of someone who lost her child in an accident.

Casey said in the jail tapes that this was a time of desperation for her. She had no way to leave the area and she only wanted to stay away from her family. Her friends were easy to placate with lies.
Casey was running away from her family who would want to know where Caylee was. Her actions and responses during those 31 days answer the only question that remains. Who killed Caylee?

The question was no longer where Caylee was. The question was no longer what happened to Caylee. The only question was who killed Caylee. For the longest time, Caylee was alive, until her remains were found.

Casey's imaginary friends were lies. They were lies to for a specific purpose, to get Casey out of a jam. For the longest time, Caylee was alive, until her remains are found.

(Baez asked for sidebar/denied)

Once she was dead, there was a theory that it was and accident. There was no accident. On July 16, 2008, the detectives asked if Caylee could have had an accident (audio of the Universal interview). Mr. Baez suggested that the OCSO had murder on their minds. The jury just heard that suggestion made to Casey and she denied the possibility. Cindy suggested the pool scenario on August 16. (video visitation) When Caylee Anthony was found dead, surprise, surprise, it was an accident.

No one would ever make the accidental death of a child look like murder. Her behavior during the 31 days was inconsistent with an accident. Ms. Burdick went back to Dr. Garavaglia's testimony that parents whose kids have accidents call 911.

The defense brought up the fact that Casey was an amazing mother. Ms. Burdick debunked the idea since the friends had only seen her for short periods of time. Feeding and sheltering and clothing a child do not made a good mother, they make an adequate mother. In fact, however, it was the grandparents who provided for Caylee, not her mother. Burdick said the amazing mother was the one who tried to protect her child, even in death.

If it were an accident, Caylee would have been found floating in a pool, not in a swamp. If George Anthony had been home, he would have called 911, have tried CPR. He never would have scooped her into a bag and thrown her in the woods.

This argument of Casey being an amazing mother could not be followed to any logical conclusion. The way the remains were found showed complete indifference to the child. It showed how the person who disposed of her really felt about her.

She then showed a picture of the yard and spoke of how George Anthony landscaped it for her. He put a floor in the playhouse so Caylee wouldn't have to sit on the ground where and insect could crawl on her. In the jail videos, George tried over and over again to get Casey to talk to law enforcement, the FBI. Why would he want his co-conspirator to talk to the cops?

The phone call that Casey made to her parents July 16, 2008 (objection/overruled) showed the real Casey. (audio)

Ms. Burdick said that when you use your common sense, you will know that Casey Anthony is a pathological liar. In the call, all she wanted was Tony's number and to cuss out her parents.

Casey Anthony was the only one to have access to every piece of evidence: the duct tape, the laundry bag, the blanket, the shorts, the car. There was no evidence that anybody else used that car. She texted Amy Huizenga that her father had run over a dead animal fifteen minutes before leaving it at Amscot. She left the trash bag as a decoy. The car was backed in next to the dumpster, which was another decoy to keep people away from the car.

George Anthony had no way to know where to find her car. They didn't know where she was or where the car was.

Finally, the shirt that said Big Trouble Comes In Small Packages. It wasn't one Cindy Anthony was familiar with, she never washed it. It was kept in the car, in the diaper bag or the backpack. She wore in at Ricardo Morales' apartment.

Someone killed Caylee Anthony. It wasn't George Anthony, he didn't have access to everything, Casey did. He did not try to cover up and lie.

Burdick then threw Casey into the mix concerning leaving the ladder down. Casey was twisting the knife in both her parents’ backs. Cindy and George were at home, at work, and missing their granddaughter. Where was Casey? She wasn't at home. She was at Tony's, but lied to her mother. Where's Caylee? Caylee's dead in the woods.

All the jury had to ask was who's life was better without Caylee? Was Cindy Anthony's life better? (911 call) Was George Anthony's life better? Mr. Ashton told the jury about that. Who's life was better? That's all you have to answer when Caylee Anthony's body was left by the road, dead. There's your answer. (pictures)

16 comments:

donchais said...

It was just a brilliant wrap to a long and winding road!

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication!

Thom said...

GREAT summation! Thanks for taking your time to do that and your hubby for being cool with it :-)
It will turn out to be a great 4th indeed.

ritanita said...

Thank you, Donchais and Thom!

It has been a long, twisted road. Let's hope it's a straight run to the finish line.

FRG said...

Ritanita,

I have read your reports every day, thank you so very much! You are so good at what you do! Thank you for your dedication!

Mrs. Burdick and Mr. Ashton did a wonderful job at closing today! Mrs. Burdick was brilliant as my hubby said! They are a great team! I had goose bumps... The way she tied KC's words to her closing were simply amazing! KC's photos side by side spoke volumes! Wow!

Now, we just have to wait! It's going to be excruciating, at least for me. I say LWOP! Well, we will see.

NancyB said...

I am so glad that I've had this blog to read daily since jury selection! I just wish that I had known of it throughout the last 3 yrs. I have read many of your blogs throughout that time period since finding you and I can't thank-you enough for all of your excellent and high quality posts. LDB spoke the truth in a way today that could not do anything but ring and ring and ring in the jurors ears. I am so grateful to the prosecution team for their fortitude and brilliance throughout this long travail. I will continue to be one of your faithful readers!

hetherfly said...

Excellent summary, as always. I thought the ending was very powerful. Praying for speedy justice for Caylee.
Happy fourth of July from Canada!

Nora said...

Happy Independence Day, Ritanita. I am home, too, I don't travel on the holidays, either. I also used to be able to see the fireworks from my front yard - people would congregate here each year for it. But, not my neighbor across the street won't trim his huge, wild tree, so it blocks the view and I have to go around the corner now to see them. Oh well, at least we get a free show.

I think it's interesting that the jury is deliberating on this holiday. Will Casey get her freedom, ever? We'll see what this jury does.

Thank you for such excellent coverage of this trial :-)

caroleigh said...

I would give anything to know, what was Casey saying during Lindas final summation. .............. her lips were moving,, what did she say ?

Anyone out there that reads lips? Surely somebody .

let us know ............ if you know!

Casey was quite ashen...............

Wonderful reporting ritanita, you've kept us in tune, and up to date. And we all Thank You so much.


Bye-bye Casey, happy 4th of July .... enjoy your beautiful life, Big Bertha is going to show you a real good time.

shari said...

I sure hope Ms. Drane-Burdick checks the back of her jacket for holes as Casey was sure staring fiery glares at her back. Casey actually showed a little too much emotion today with her anger at being pegged for the real person behind the mask of "cutesy-gal".
Sociopaths do not like being backed into a corner when the real truth comes out. I just hope the jury sees "the forest for the trees" as Ms. Drane-Burdick so succintly put it.

Christine said...

If I had voted for 2nd degree murder before, I'm afraid I would agree with the prosecution that the requirements to vote for 1st degree have been met.

I do not believe in the death penalty, but I do believe life without parole might be a fair sentence for someone like this.

The prosecution really presented a compelling and clear end to the trial. I hope the jury members have the brains and common sense to come to a good and swift verdict.

NancyB said...

Casey said: "I would never blame my mother"

about George - "He didn't do it"

"I never said that"

ritanita said...

Well, everybody, I see you all were blown away by Ms. Burdick's rebuttal just as I was.

FRG, Waiting for a verdict is excruciating.

Nancy B, I'm glad you found us here! It's been a long 3 years for sure. Now, I'm starting to file away the last of the motions and discovery. I've left enough space for the verdict form that just came out on WFTV.

Caroleigh, I'm bad at reading lips, fortunately, Nancy G came to the rescue!

Shari, if looks could kill, there would be a lot of dead people in that courtroom!

Christine, I don't care about the death penalty at all. LWOP would be fine with me. She will always be the person she is and would be a danger to others.

I just pray the jury has the ability to see through smoke and mirrors!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sprocket,
Don't know if you heard - and didn't really know 'where' to post this - but there's made for TV movie coming out - re Phil Spector's first trial, where Bette Midler plays Linda Kenney Baden, Al Pacino plays Spector!!

Ligita

Sprocket said...

Ligita,

There are several entries on the blog already about David Mamet's movie.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ritanita for your writings about this trial. Even though I watched the hearings and trial, you cut through so much of the mumbo jumbo and just laid it out the way LDB did with her methodical questioning of witnesses and the her ending with a bang. I hope never to see Baez again in another trial. Lawyers on tv said he was "passionate" to defend his client. I say it was all about him. A stepping stone to greater things for HIM. If not, he would have had the seasoned Mason do more of the work. The prosecutors, police, searchers, etc. gave 100% of themselves for the victim. I pray there is justice for the precious child, Caylee Marie.

And thank you to Sprocket for allowing these terrific writers to share your space. I have followed Sprocket since I found her through the courttv boards during the first Spector trial and I knew she had a generous heart back then.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ritanita.I watched 90% of the trial and u helped with the rest that i missed.It was so helpful to read what i didnt understand. Thanks again.