Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Casey Anthony Murder Trial: Day 19

Things have not gone well between the defense team, the prosecution, and Judge Belvin Perry. Yesterday, the transcript of a bench conference from the end of the day on June 13 was published.

In it, Cheney Mason had a fit that Perry had announced to the jury that the defense case in chief would begin on Thursday, June 16. Mason told the judge to give an instruction to the jury that the defense was under no obligati
on to present a case. Perry refused, pointing out that Mr. Baez had been telling him that the defense would put on a case! Perry also told the defense that they were lying to him!

That's not a good thing for the judge to say, but I have to cut him some slack. The defense has made many representations to the court that turned out not to be true. Just go back to the hearings where Jose Baez told the judge that documents would be provided, and never were.

I'm sure there is more, but we aren't p
rivy to most of it. To view the sequence of events that occurred, watch this video from WFTV beginning at 21:52.

Yesterday, Jeff Ashton announced that there were a few housekeeping details the prosecution needed to take care of. They need to introduce two additional sealed cans with carpet samples and deal with an item of
judicial notice.

Jeff Ashton noted
that, since the defense had no witnesses for Wednesday, he asked if these minor details be taken care of, Cheney Mason seemed to be in a high dudgeon that the prosecution would use part of the defense's first day of testimony (ironically, the third anniversary of Caylee Anthony's death) to their purposes before they rested their case. He told Ashton to either rest, or don't rest!

This meant that today, the jury will be hauled into the court for these things and then bussed back to their hotel.

Linda Burdick then made a comment to the defense team that, that, since they were coming back tomorrow (today), she wanted to be sure that she could take the defense at their word that they were not going to present witnesses! She stated she didn't want some "surprise" from the defense. She also asked for a list of witnesses. Cheney Mason said he'd get it to her tomorrow! You can watch the entire sequence here at 22:10.

A Short Day In Court

Live coverage of today's session started when Casey Anthony made her traditional entrance at 8:55. Before she could sit down, an officer talked to her and she was sent back to her holding area.

Then, Judge Perry, in shirt sleeves appeared on screen for a moment with papers in his hand.

In listening to InSession, it would seem that all the lawyers are in chambers with the court reporter.

The attorneys returned to the courtroom and the session was called to order at 9:13.

First, the state had some evidence to introduce. As to the Judicial Notice, Frank George told Judge Perry that the two sides had come to an agreement and a stipulation was made. Casey signed off on it also. It said that on July 2, 2008, she had gotten the tattoo, Bella Vita, which meant Beautiful Life.

As to the cans, Jose Baez asked if the cans were going to be used as a sniff test. John Ashton said that wasn't their plan.

Cheney Mason brought up the issue of the jury view of item 313. He wanted to know how the jury came to agreement as to seeing it and wanted the jury instructed on it. Jeff Ashton said that the jury had the right to ask to see evidence. Mason then dropped the issue.

The jury was then called in.

Frank George requested that Judge Perry read the stipulation to the jury.

Jeff Ashton moved for the two cans to be put into evidence. Baez agreed with that, with his usual objections.

Linda Burdick then stood and announced that the State rested its case.

Judge Perry then told the jury that they had legal matters to discuss which would take a long time. He then dismissed them for the day. Then, he addressed the defense and said that they had only presented the documents to him that morning! Mr. Mason told the judge he might be familiar with some of them and could read them after the arguments. Then, Mason asked Judge Perry if the state had provided cases this morning. Ms. Burdick indicated that the state had presented their documents to him on Monday.

It was then the defense's responsibility to make their Motion for a Judgement of Acquittal. These motions normally fail, but are necessary to preserve the record on appeal.

Cheney Mason spoke for the defense. I listened to his arguments and attempted to get all the pertinent information down. That, of course was an impossibility due to the pace and clarity with which he spoke.

Here is a summary of his basic arguments:

1. The state could not prove premeditated 1st degree murder.

  • The evidence has to be consistent with the fact that there is no other person who could have committed the crime.
  • The ruling of homicide by Dr. Garavaglia had been reached by the preponderance of the evidence.
  • There is no evidence of when the child died, where she died, who was in attendance when she died. The state has failed to rebut the case for accidental death.
  • The state has not proven premeditation. The state's argument has to be inconsistent with any other reasonable hypotheses.
2. The state could not prove felony murder.

  • There was no history of prior abuse of the child. The first 18 witnesses called confirmed that she was a dedicated, doting, loving, caring, mother. They only said that she was a liar.
  • He asserted that there was no proof of intentional abuse. The defense had asked the witnesses and none of them saw torture or any type of child abuse.
3. The state did not prove aggravated manslaughter.

  • The state had not proven that the was caused by neglect by Casey Anthony.
  • The presence of duct tape on or near the remains only allows a suspicion.
4. Concerning the counts of lying to police, Mason went back to his arguments in the Motions in Limine which indicated that Casey had not been read her Miranda Rights and that she was in police custody.

In his closing, Mason stressed that:

  • The state had to prove every point to beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • It is a totally circumstantial case and there was no evidence to tie the death to Casey Anthony to the exclusion of all others.
  • There was no scientific expert who could say that the hair absolutely came from a dead person.
  • The only testimony was that an FBI analyst saw the outline of the sticker and failed to photograph it. Therefore, there is no tie-in between the sticker found at the crime scene and the duct tape.
  • There wasn't proof of the duct tape being the cause of death. If it were, the only evidence about it pointed to the father, not his client.
  • No murder, no premeditation, no history of aggravated abuse, forensic evidence which is not totally conclusive.
Linda Burdick then present her arguments.

  • All inferences the state has presented at this point must be accepted in the best possible light for the purposes of this motion.
  • Ms. Anthony's statements to friends, family, and LE had indicated that a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, had the child.
  • Accident is a possibility, but Dr. G. stated unequivocally that it was not an accident.
  • Mr. George Anthony has rebutted the defense claims. At this point, the Court must accept that.
  • The weight of the evidence goes to the jury.
  • The placement of 3 pieces of duct tape allowed time for premeditation.
  • There is the possibility that the child died as a result of poisoning by chloroform.
  • It is possible to argue that the child died as a result of the combination of the two based on evidence in the trunk and how the body were found.
  • A reasonable jury could conclude that the strife between Cindy and Casey could be a motive.
  • The computer searches show premeditation.
  • State does not have to prove manner on death or location of death.
  • To convict, they don't need the body of the victim.
  • A reasonable jury could conclude that her death was caused by multiple pieces of duct tape, which would not constitute a single act of abuse. Also, the possible administration of a poison for whatever purpose could be considered.
Mason then rebutted Ms. Burdick's arguments.

  • There is no evidence of poisoning by chloroform.
  • Dr. Garavaglia's report cited that testing only showed trace levels of chloroform.
  • The duct tape wasn't wound around the child's head at all. Two pieces were attached and one was 9-10 feet away. (Testimony showed it was 6.7 feet away.) There is no proof it caused the death.
  • George Anthony used a piece of the tape on gas can and on fliers. He was the only person who had it. The defendant did not have the duct tape.
  • The computer searches were unrelated to the crime, they were searches of self defense.
Judge Perry then recessed court for 45 minutes until 11:15.

When he returned, he read from abundant case law. He also went through the facts in evidence. He then denied the motion.

Get ready for tomorrow! Court resumes at 9 AM tomorrow and the defense will be up at bat!



donchais said...

Good reporting!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant summary!


shari said...

Wondering who and what the defense is going to come up with next....

GeeMama said...

Not really on this topic but somebody please hold me back from throwing a shoe through my tv when Linda K. Badden is on. She just grates on my nerves.

Anonymous said...

About the search for "self defense," it was probably for the other members of the family. Remember Casey asked Cindy to give her "one more day." All the while Casey knew Caylee was dead, and now Cindy was pressuring her to go get Caylee and bring her home (alive!) that same day. So given the various searches about "self defense" and making weapons with household products, etc., who knows what Casey was going to do on that "one more day," if Cindy hadn't persisted and called 911?

Anonymous said...

I have not heard anyone make a connection of Bella Vita (beautiful life in Italian) to the ex-boyfriend Tony Lazzaro. Lazzaro is an Italian name. Just a thought.

Maytruthprevail said...

I was wondering if any of the clothing found with the remains were tested for chemical content. And if they were, I wonder if they found traces of chlorine which would substantiate the alleged "pool accident" claimed by the defense. If she drowned in the pool, Caylee would have had clothes on.

Sprocket said...


We sometimes forget that not only was the body exposed to the elements all those months and full decomposition (except for bones & hair) the body was, for a time under water. If there was any chlorine in the clothing, I'm betting during the storm/rains/under water it was washed out.

ritanita said...

Shari, It seems that they have a "wrong number" "witness" all over the news tonight!

Then, there is also a new sidebar out which explains why the bones being chewed by animals came in.

The reason was that Baez opening that the body was dragged by R. Kronk. Baez opened his own can of worms, according to Judge Perry.

Nora said...

Let's take the drowning theory the defense first tried to use: CASEY ADMITTED SHE WAS THERE WHEN CAYLEE DIED. She just tried to frame her dad for taking care of the body afterwards. So, she's admitted being present at Caylee's death - doesn't that mean something to anyone on the jury? Since then, as we all know, the defense has tried other theories, and now trying to bring in some kidnapper. I'm glad Perry is trying to keep this a tight trial and keep a schedule, or this charade by the defense will never end.

ritanita said...

Nora, I sure wish I could figure out where the defense team is going with that story.

I read about the "kidnapper" yesterday, I won't multiply his unfavorable press by putting his name there.

When something like this comes up, I jump immediately to Websleuths as they are always on top of this sort of things.

Sure enough, the thread was already 7 pages long and they'd managed to dig back in their collective memories to solve the puzzle.

AZLawyer was the one with the answer, it has something to do with a not unusual problem with mis-typed numbers in phone databases.

His number had two digits short of George Anthony's current workplace in Celebration Florida! The first three and the last four numbers were identical.

One thing I know, "people" in Orlando have been given the heads up!

It should be an interesting morning, no matter what happens!

BTW, I got your previous message. To keep the board moving, I only leave comments open for the last 2 days of trial so I can easily get to them to reply.

Feel free to comment about anything about the trial on one of the open entries.

Nora said...

Thanks, Ritanita.

Anonymous said...

I feel it ODD that when cindy told casey "the latest rumor is that she drowned in the family pool" casey proceeds to say "surprise, surprise" sarcastically. Now she is using this as her defense? that is BS, honestly. Yeah casey was there for caylee's death. But Caylee didn't drown. That much is clear.