Casey Anthony Trial

Casey Anthony Update
January 26, 2013

This Friday, a Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals threw out two of the four charges against infamous mother, Casey Anthony, for lying to police in regards to the disappearance and death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, in 2008. Though tried and acquitted in 2011 for the first degree murder of her daughter, the courts found her guilty of four counts of “providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation” and sentenced to four years including time served, as she had already spent three years awaiting trial.

However, the courts struck two of these charges, arguing that they constituted double jeopardy. Double jeopardy insinuates being convicted twice for a single crime, and is not permitted under the law. Additionally, lawyers for Anthony argued that the four lies should be counted as a single offense. This was not accepted by the court, as there was a sufficient break in time between the two lies making them separate criminal acts. Anthony has the right to appeal the remaining two convictions.

‘Caylee’s Law’: Life-saving or Time-wasting?
June 27, 2012

Caylee Anthony, the deceased two-year old
and inspiration for
‘Caylee’s Law’

Joining the ranks of AMBER Alert and Code Adam is another missing child system inspired by an infamous case: ‘Caylee’s Law’. Caylee Anthony, the deceased two-year-old whose trial captured the nation’s attention in 2011, inspired the law after her young mother, Casey Anthony, failed to report Caylee as missing for over a month. Although the jury acquitted Casey Anthony on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child-abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, they declared her guilty on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Judge Belvin Perry sentenced her to one year and $1000 for each false information count to be served consecutively. Incorporating her time already served and credit for good behavior, Anthony was released from prison on July 17th, 2011, just a couple days after sentencing. America was outraged.

In response, Michelle Crowder of Oklahoma proposed ‘Caylee’s Law’ on Change.org, a petition-hosting website, suggesting increasing the penalty to a fourth-degree felony for failing to report a missing child within twenty-four hours of their disappearance or one hour of their death. The petition quickly went viral and garnered over 1,300,000 signatures, pressuring lawmakers across the country to design such a law.

Edward Mehnert covers his mouth with duct tape as he protests the verdict against Casey Anthony during her sentencing. Anthony’s trial provoked such a media circus that Time magazine called it the “social media trial of the century.” (AP Photos/Alan Diaz)
EdwardMehnert

The backlash to the proposed law was almost as strong. Critics cited ineffective previous laws inspired by dead children and cautioned against making lasting legislature out of anger and fresh wounds. A Huffington Post article criticized the impracticality of the one hour and twenty four hour cut-offs, demonstrating the difficulty of determining time of death so precisely and offering complicating hypothetical situations. What happens if your child is at a sleepover and doesn’t call home? Under this law, would you have to call your child at summer camp every day? What happens if your infant dies in his or her sleep? You might discover the death several hours later. Do we really want to punish a grieving parent in that situation with a felony? Although common sense should guide judicial rulings in these situations, there are many current examples of gross and insensible violations of justice.

Critics also fear that the law will make cautious parents falsely report absent children as missing, clogging up the police department’s missing persons cases. The excess of false cases would obscure the real missing children cases and prevent them from being investigated in those first few crucial hours. Critics claim that the law will be unenforceable and ineffective in its goal of protecting children, merely entrapping innocent parents.

State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport speaks out on House Bill 600, Louisiana’s proposed ‘Caylee’s Law,’
on June 25th

Despite these criticisms, several states have moved ahead with legislation. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a ‘Caylee’s Law’ in January 2012, making the failure to report a missing child age thirteen or younger after twenty-four hours a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and fines up to $10,000. Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed House Bill 37 into law in April, another variant of ‘Caylee’s Law.’ This law heightened to felony status the act of misleading a law enforcement official in a missing child case. Louisiana’s version of ‘Caylee’s Law’, House Bill 600, passed in early June, and declares that failure to report a missing child is punishable with up to 50 years in prison and $50,000. Overall, thirty-two states filed some form of legislature in the past year to criminalize the failure to report a missing child.

What do you think?

Casey Anthony Pleads the Fifth
December 8, 2011

One of the lies Casey Anthony told from early on in the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance, a lie she was convicted of telling in her criminal trial, involved a nanny name Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. While the nanny was revealed to be fictitious, a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez has since claimed that Anthony’s story has led to extreme difficulties in her life, including loss of a job and apartment. As a result, she’s suing Anthony for defamation. Anthony was deposed for the civil suit in October, and used the fifth amendment (the right against self-incrimination) 60 times to avoid answering questions. Today a hearing took place to decide whether she will be forced to answer these questions. The judge has reserved ruling on the issue. Stay tuned for updates, and go here.

Casey Anthony Still Unemployed
October 5th, 2011

On Monday, October 3rd, Casey Anthony reported to her monthly meeting with her probation officer in Florida. According to the Florida DOC report, she had no violations this month to the terms of her probation. She reported she still has no job or source of income. The DOC report can be found here. Some of the terms of her probation include finding a job, not doing illegal drugs, and reporting to a probation officer monthly.

Anthony’s Bill More Than Doubles
September 24, 2011

Casey Anthony now officially owes $217,449.23, over twice the amount decided on during last week’s ruling but still less than half of what the state requested. The increase followed a new set of expense reports regarding the costs of the investigation, providing an additional $119,822.25 for the sheriff’s office costs.

Casey Anthony Ordered to Repay Nearly $100,000 in Investigative Costs
September 18, 2011

This may seem like a small price to pay considering the total cost of the investigation. However, the defense attorneys argued this was an unfair amount to expect her to pay especially since she was only charged with four counts of lying to the police. The prosecutors argue that since the lying was “intertwined” with the rest of the investigation, Anthony should be forced to repay these charges.

Judge Belvin Perry stated that under Florida law Anthony can only be charged for costs that were “reasonably necessary” to prove the charges for which she was convicted. This limitation restricts her from being billed for any murder investigation or prosecution costs. A hearing determined that Anthony cannot be charged with any costs after September 29, 2008 since that marked the end of the missing person phase of the investigation.

Judge Perry gave Anthony orders to pay the total of $97,676.98, which includes:

  • $61,505.12 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • 10,283.90 to the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation
  • $25,837.96 to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office
  • $50.00 to the Office of the State Attorney

Some of the expenses of the sheriff’s department couldn’t be broken down to determine what work was performed prior to September 30, 2008. The judge gave investigators until today to submit revised reports and the total costs could then be raised accordingly.

Will the investigators find reason to increase Anthony’s total bill? We’ll have to wait and see what their reports find.

For more on the story, go here.

Casey Anthony Fights Reimbursement Motion
September 2, 2011

It’s unlikely to surprise anyone that the dramatic, very public and drawn-out trial of Casey Anthony earlier this summer cost Florida a great deal of money–as did the investigation into Caylee’s disappearance. While Anthony was acquitted of the murder charges, the jury did convict her of lying to authorities about her daughter’s disappearance, which arguably increased the cost of the search (especially since she admitted later to knowing Caylee was dead the whole time). Based on this, prosecutors are moving to have Anthony cover these costs–which total over 500 thousand dollars. Her lawyers are fighting the motion in court today–stay tuned to find out whether she’ll be forced to pay up.

Casey Anthony’s Probation
August 15, 2011

Judge Perry from Casey Anthony’s murder trial has made one more ruling regarding Anthony–she is to report for supervised probation in Orlando. This probation is for her check fraud conviction, unrelated to the murder trial that made her famous. Among other things, her probation forbids her to consume drugs or alcohol, associate with known criminals, or own a firearm, and she must report regularly to a probation officer. The only difference in her probation from the standard for this type of crime is that Perry’s withholding her address for her protection. Since her acquittal in July Anthony is being called America’s most-hated person, and throughout her probation the Department of Corrections will do their best to keep her safe from an angry public.

DCF Concludes Casey Anthony is Responsible for Caylee’s Death
August 12, 2011

While Casey Anthony was acquitted of criminal charges of murder and aggravated child abuse by the jury in her trial, Florida’s Department of Children and Families has come to another conclusion. They released a report saying Anthony was responsible for her daughter’s death. While not claiming she physically harmed Caylee, the report concludes that her failure to act for a month after the child went missing was not in her best interest–if nothing else, it delayed investigation that could have led to Caylee’s recovery. The report is simply the conclusion of the department’s investigation and will not lead to any further charges against Anthony. For more on the story, go here.

Less Than a Week Left in Casey Anthony’s Sentence
July 7, 2011

After her conviction Tuesday of four counts of lying to law enforcement, Casey Anthony was sentenced by Judge Perry to one year per count–four years in all. Since she has spent approximately three years in jail already, and has had good behavior, Anthony will complete her sentence by next Wednesday, July 13th. Perry also fined Anthony one thousand dollars for each of the four counts.

Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty
July 5, 2011

After ten hours of deliberations, the jury in Casey Anthony’s trial came back today with a verdict: not guilty on all major charges. They found her guilty of the four counts of giving False Information to Law Enforcement with which she was charge, but not guilty of the murder and child abuse counts.

Deliberations
July 5, 2011

Yesterday morning the jury in the Casey Anthony trial began deliberating. Today they pick up where they left off after six hours yesterday. Stay tuned for updates.

Closing Statements
July 3, 2011

Today the state and defense in the Casey Anthony trial are giving closing statements, bringing together their arguments before the jury begins deliberations. The state focused on Anthony’s many lies throughout the period her daughter was missing, then discussed the items found with the body, claiming they showed that a stranger could not have killed Caylee. They argued that the defense theory of the case–that Caylee died in an accidental drowning covered up by her grandfather–was illogical.

The defense emphasized holes in the prosecution’s case, claiming they did not explain how Caylee died and were trying to play up the lying and partying on Anthony’s part to play on the jury’s emotions and turn them against her. They dismissed the explanation of Anthony’s motives alleged by the prosecution–that she felt her daughter was in the way of the lifestyle she wanted.

The jury is expected to deliberate once the statements are completed. Stay tuned for updates.

Trial Winding Down
July 1, 2011

Yesterday the defense in the Casey Anthony trial rested its case, and today the prosecution began its rebuttal, expecting to finish by the end of the day. Perry has declared there will be no court tomorrow, but closing statements will be made on Sunday, allowing the jury to begin deliberation by the holiday.

The defense spent the last few days on testimony from various players in the case including the meter reader who found Caylee Anthony’s remains in December 2008. The defense claimed he found the body far earlier and moved it to its final location to get a reward, a claim which he denied on the stand.

The theory of the case put forth by the defense involved Casey Anthony being molested by her father, a history that led her to lie about her emotions and hide her daughter’s death for the month before her absence was reported. They had a difficult time proving this history, however, as the only witness who connected Anthony to any molestation was her ex-fiancee, and his testimony was not allowed by Judge Perry. Even that witness would only have testified to Anthony claiming she was “groped” by her brother, and the defense never questioned her brother on the stand regarding that claim.

The defense also questioned George Anthony, Casey’s father, bringing up a suicide attempt he made after Caylee was found. This opened the door for the prosecution to bring in his suicide note as evidence during rebuttal, and that is exactly what they did. His reasons for attempting suicide did not include his granddaughter’s accidental drowning as alleged by the defense.

Sudden Competency Question
June 27, 2011

Saturday morning Judge Perry called a sudden recess in the Casey Anthony trial before the jury even entered the courtroom, cancelling any testimony that would have otherwise been presented. At the time he gave no explanation beyond a “legal matter” arising. Today, a possible reason for the recess has been revealed: Anthony’s defense claimed Anthony wasn’t competent to stand trial. The motion was filed Saturday, and Perry immediately had Anthony examined by three psychologists. Today he announced that, having reviewed the reports of the experts, Anthony was competent and the trial will continue.

Chloroform in Anthony’s Car; Cindy Made Online Chloroform Searches
June 24, 2011

A possible new lead for the prosecution has turned up, in the form of a woman who shared jail time with Casey Anthony. April Whalen had a toddler close in age to Caylee, who died in a drowning accident conspicuously similar to the one Anthony’s defense has put forward as Caylee’s cause of death—including the child being discovered by the grandfather. The prosecution is exploring Whalen as a possible inspiration for Anthony’s story.

In addition to this possible blow to the defense’s case, one of Tuesday’s witnesses appears to have backfired. The defense called a researcher who works with Vass, the forensic anthropologist who testified for the state regarding the decomposition chemicals he found in Anthony’s car. Tuesday’s witness explained the chloroform they found in the trunk was surprising in a location like that, and that he and Vass were unable to find an explanation for its presence in the test. Since the presence of chloroform can only support the prosecution’s case, this testimony is a blow to the defense.

Wednesday contained only half a day’s worth of testimony, but covered quite a bit forensically. A chemist testified that the air samples from the car contained mostly gasoline, and that the other chemicals were not positively associated with decomposition because other natural sources exist. A forensic geologist discussed soil samples from shoes taken from the Anthony home, saying no evidence was present linking any of the shoes to the site where the remains were found—however, such soil evidence can easily fall off, so this lack means little. A toxicologist explained that the hair mass found with the remains did not show evidence of drugs, but that it was not tested for chloroform. Still more witnesses testified about chloroform and hair samples.

It was Thursday’s testimony, however, that was most in the defense’s favor: Cindy Anthony came forward saying she made the computer searches for “chloroform” that had previously been attributed to her daughter. She claimed she’d been looking up “chlorophyll” out of concern for the health of a pet that was eating plants in the backyard, and that she searched for information about chloroform because of its connection to chlorophyll. There was some discussion of her records from work, however, which showed she was working at the time the searches were made, so it remains to be seen whether the jury finds her testimony convincing.

Forensic Botanist Testifies
June 21, 2011

The Casey Anthony trial continued its pattern of presenting evidence from fairly obscure fields within the forensic sciences today when a forensic botanist testified. She discussed the plant evidence present at the site where Caylee’s remains were found, saying the roots growing in the hair mass could be as young as a few weeks old. That plant evidence, therefore, does not suggest the body was there for six months, as the prosecution alleges–however, it also does not exclude the possibility. She also explained that the plant evidence found in Anthony’s car did not appear to have come from the scene where the remains were found.

Yesterday’s session was cancelled by Judge Perry after more arguments between attorneys and a scramble on the part of the defense to produce a witness after their first two were rejected. Tomorrow’s session is expected to be short, ending around noon. Stay tuned for more news as the trial continues.

Defense Brings out Prominent Experts to Attack Forensics
June 20, 2011

After Friday’s testimony from a forensic entomologist disputing the previous claims of the prosecution’s entomologist, Casey Anthony’s defense brought out two prominent forensic experts on Saturday. First, forensic anthropologist William Rodriguez came forward to testify about the duct tape found near Caylee Anthony’s remains, but this opinion had not been shared with the court ahead of time.

This omission by the defense was in violation of a court order, and led to Judge Perry threatening defense attorney Baez with contempt for “game-playing.” Rodriguez is the co-founder of the body farm, so his testimony carries quite a bit of weight. He will instead testify today, giving the prosecution an opportunity to depose him over the weekend.

Saturday’s portion of the trial continued withtestimony from forensic pathologist Werner Spitz, author of what many consider to be the authoritative text on medicolegal death investigation. He criticized the performance of the medical examiner in her investigation of Caylee Anthony’s death, particularly her autopsy, saying she should have opened the skull. He also rejected the prosecution’s claim that the duct tape was used to kill Caylee, saying that rather than placed on her nose and mouth at the time of her death, it was most likely added after decomposition. One reason to place duct tape on the skull at that point might be to hold the jawbone on while the body is moved.

Defense Begins with DNA Evidence
June 16, 2011

Today, forensic scientists who worked the Caylee Anthony case were questioned before the jury by the defense. A crime scene investigator explained that he had found no stains on Casey Anthony’s clothes when he used an alternate light source to check for bodily fluids. A forensic DNA examiner then testified that no blood was found in Anthony’s trunk; this is to be expected in a situation where no blood was shed, such as smothering, the cause of death proposed by the prosecution. Blood might have been found from the decomposition of the remains in the trunk among the fluids released, if there was a hole in the bags the prosecution claims the remains were wrapped in. The examiner also described the lack of conclusive DNA evidence on the duct tape found on the remains.

Motion for Acquittal Denied
June 16, 2011

After the prosecution finished presenting their case yesterday, the defense moved to acquit Casey Anthony on the grounds that the prosecution had not met the burden of proof–they claimed there was no evidence that Caylee Anthony was murdered or that there was premeditation. Judge Perry denied the motion and the defense will begin presenting their case today. Stay tuned for more on the trial as it continues.

Prosecution Planning to Rest Today
June 15, 2011

The prosecution in the Casey Anthony trial has announced that they plan to finish presenting their case today. Yesterday’s testimony included Cindy Anthony, Caylee’s grandmother, discussing items such as a Winnie the Pooh blanket and pieces of a canvas laundry bag found at the scene where Caylee’s remains were found. The day finished with testimony from Casey Anthony’s tattoo artist describing a tattoo Anthony got saying “bella vita”–Italian for “beautiful life.”

Day 16 Brings out the Bugs
June 12, 2011

Yesterday the Casey Anthony jurors saw testimony from a forensic entomologist, Neal Haskell, regarding insect evidence. He explained that the insect species present at the body site indicated the body’s long-term presence, that it had been there since June or July before being discover in December 2008. He also explained that insects collected from the trunk of Anthony’s car indicated the presence of a body for a short time before being removed–an implication previous witnesses have suggested throughout the week. Entomological evidence is the most accurate indication of time of death once the body has decomposed.

The video showing a superimposition of Caylee’s skull with duct tape over the mouth over a picture of her alive and smiling was shown the day before, adding to the decomposition testimony to make week three of the trial the most gruesome yet.

Caylee’s Skeleton and Duct Tape Discussed at Length
June 10, 2011

While earlier in the week testimony focused on the signs of decomposition from a body in Casey Anthony’s car, recent testimony has focused on the remains themselves. Caylee Anthony’s skeleton was found on December 11, 2008, having decomposed in a field among garbage bags for up to six months. Duct tape was found over the mouth, holding the jaw bone to the rest of the skull. The placement of the duct tape is key in the prosecution’s case for foul play.

Chief medical examiner Dr. Jan Garvaglia testified today that the way the body was left “to rot” indicated foul play, along with the duct tape and Anthony’s failure to report her daughter’s disappearance.

Further evidence will include a superimposition of Caylee’s skull over her face, to show the placement of the duct tape as it would have been before decomposition. While potentially disturbing, and therefore prejudicial to a jury, Judge Perry is allowing this evidence because of its importance in the case.

Decomposition Evidence
June 7, 2011

Testimony this week has focused thus far on forensic evidence of decomposition in Casey Anthony’s car, where the prosecution alleges she kept her daughter’s decomposing body in the trunk. After hearing from multiple witnesses describing an odor of decomposition in the car, the jury heard evidence from experts regarding the same odor.

Several aspects of the trunk’s smell were presented. A trash bag was found in the trunk and ruled out by technicians as being the source of the odor recognized by witnesses; a highly trained cadaver dog alerted on the trunk, indicating that a body had been stored within; and on Monday, the jury heard from Arpad Vass, a forensic anthropologist conducting research at the body farm on decomposition.

Vass performed chemical tests on air samples from the trunk, carpet samples, the spare tire cover, and scrapings from the wheel well of the car. Of the 30 or so chemicals he has found in his research to be significant to human decomposition, the samples from Anthony’s trunk contained seven, although only five were counted as two were trace amounts. He testified that these results indicate only decomposing remains can account for the odor in the trunk. He also testified that there were high levels of chloroform present in the samples–an important fact to the prosecution, which claims Anthony used chloroform on her daughter before smothering her.

Stay tuned for an entry on our main blog page about the odor analysis used by Vass.

Hair-Like Caylee’s Found in Car
June 4, 2011

After multiple witnesses testified to smelling a decompositional odor coming from Casey Anthony’s car, today evidence was presented suggesting it was Caylee’s body creating the smell. A hair found in the car resembles one taken from Caylee’s brush, according to a trace analyst from the FBI. She also said the hair from the trunk of the car contained a mark she had only seen in hairs from decomposing bodies–that is, hairs still in the scalp when the body started decomposing. The resemblence to Caylee’s hair is not an absolute identification, since hair comparisons are never absolute to the individual, and consists primarily of color similarities. The DNA present in the hair shaft was also tested, but this is not DNA that can be linked to a single individual either.

While hair ripped by the root can still contain nuclear DNA, the shaft of hair such as that found in the car contains only mitochondrial DNA. Unlike nuclear DNA, mitochondrial DNA does not change between generations, but is passed directly and intact from the mother to the child. This means the DNA analysis of the hair shows only that it belonged to someone in Caylee’s maternal line, such as Caylee, Casey, or Cindy Anthony.

The analyst described a particular band on the hair as consistent with decomposition, but this observation is based only on her experience, and is not a proven correlation.

Other interesting forensic evidence brought up today included air samples taken from the car, which showed signs of gases consistent with decomposition, as well as chloroform, which is what the prosecution says Anthony used to kill her daughter.

Casey’s Claims Disputed
June 2, 2011

Today’s testimony in the Casey Anthony trial has already brought out evidence of Anthony’s deception regarding her job and her boyfriend. Having heard testimony that Anthony told friends and family that she had a wealthy suitor named Jeffrey Michael Hopkins, and that she had a job at Universal Studios, today the jury heard from an acquaintance of Anthony’s named Jeff Hopkins and from an employee at Universal. Hopkins said he knew Anthony from school, but had no children and had not introduced Anthony to a nanny for Caylee, as she had claimed. Several other aspects and details of her stories about him were also untrue, including their relationship, his job, and where he lived. Leonard Turtora, the Universal employee questioned by police about Anthony’s job, also testified, explaining that she had not worked at Universal during the time she claimed.

Wednesday’s testimony included a description of a statement and interview given by Anthony after Caylee was reported missing, in which she claimed Caylee had been kidnapped by the nanny introduced to her by Hopkins. Investigators were unable to find the nanny described by Anthony. Anthony claimed she did not come to the police after the kidnapping out of fear. The defense’s current claim that Caylee died in an accidental drowning clearly conflicts with this original statement.

Caylee’s Grandmother Testifies
May 30, 2011

Saturday’s session of the Casey Anthony trial was short, focusing on the testimony of Cindy Anthony, Casey’s mother. It was Cindy who finally reported Caylee missing a month after she last saw her, and her testimony focused on that month. Cindy described her repeated attempts to see her granddaughter, and her daughter’s varied explanations for the child’s absence. The explanations involved a nanny named Zanny who was taking care of Caylee while Anthony attended work meetings, as well as a car accident during an outing in Tampa. Another explanation was that they were staying in a hotel with a wealthy suitor. These stories conflict with previous testimony, and Anthony’s lawyers have suggested Anthony’s lies during this period were due to a habit of hiding her pain based on a history of abuse.

The Scent of Decomposition and Motive for Murder
May 28, 2011

The prosecution continues to present testimony against Casey Anthony. Friday focused on Anthony’s car, as the jury heard George Anthony describe the smell of decomposition in the car as he drove it home from impound. It had been found abandoned in a parking lot and towed two weeks earlier. The towing company’s manager also testified to the smell, saying it was detectible even with the car closed but far stronger when the doors and trunk were opened. The decomposition of a human body is a very unique and recognizable smell to anyone with experience with it, and the manager testified that he has had that experience. George Anthony also claims familiarity with the stench through his time as a detective.

Saturday the prosecution began addressing Anthony’s  motive by attempting to present text messages they say show Anthony’s true feelings about her daughter–that Caylee stood in the way of her desire for a party-filled lifestyle and her relationship with her boyfriend Lazarro. Judge Belvin Perry questioned the probative nature of these messages, and suggested they would be excessively prejudicial, so the prosecution is currently withdrawing their attempt in introduce them.

For the full story of this latest testimony, go here.

The Trial So Far
May 27, 2011

Today marks the fourth day of the long-awaited trial of Casey Anthony. The prosecution continues to present the case against Anthony with several more witnesses. In addition to continuing to emphasize Anthony’s failure to mention her daughter’s disappearance after it occurred, the testimony has begun outlining the story put forth by the prosecution.

Witnesses testified that Anthony did not act differently after Caylee’s disappearance, clubbing and claiming Caylee was with a nanny. However, these witnesses also admitted under cross-examination that when she was seen with her daughter she did not appear to be a bad mother or to mistreat Caylee.

A major witness who testified on Thursday was Anthony’s father, George. He described the disappearance of some gas cans from his shed, which he later confronted his daughter about. She retrieved them from the trunk of her car and returned them. This occurred about a week after Caylee was last seen, but allegedly before anyone in the family knew she was missing. Anthony’s former boyfriend Lazzaro also testified about the gas cans, saying he helped her break into the shed to take them.

Before the gas cans were taken, George Anthony had left duct tape on one of them, and according to him, the returned cans had no duct tape. This is a relatively rare type of tape that was apparently found on Caylee’s remains six months later, according to the prosecution.

Stay tuned for more on the trial as it unfolds–meanwhile, find up-to-date news about Casey Anthony here.

Trial Underway
May 25, 2011

Casey Anthony’s trial began this week with opening statements from both prosecution and defense attorneys. While the prosecution stated, as expected, that only Casey Anthony could have killed her daughter Caylee, the defense had another theory. Anthony’s attorney told the jury that Caylee’s death was an accidental drowning, and that the month-long delay before her disappearance was reported resulted from Casey and her father George Anthony’s panic upon finding the body. Casey’s behavior afterwards–lying to her friends and family about her daughter’s whereabouts, as well as partying at local clubs–resulted from a lifelong habit of hiding her pain, according to her lawyer. They alleged that this habit was formed in her childhood because her father sexually abused her. George Anthony testified as the first witness of the trial, denying both the abuse and his presence at Caylee’s death.

Trial Expected to Start in Earnest Monday, Says Judge
May 20, 2011

After days of jury selection in Clearwater, Florida, sixteen jurors remain today out of the far larger jury pool. Twelve are required for the trial, plus several alternates, and after a number of potential jurors have been let go for reasons ranging from financial hardship to personal reasons the attorneys believe may bias their decisions, the number of alternates may be lower than originally planned. Nevertheless, Judge Perry plans to begin opening arguments next week in Orlando. The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks, with the jury sequestered throughout that time. For more on the story, go here.

Body Decomposition
May 16, 2011

Now, anyone interested in decompositional processes such as those involved in the Casey Anthony trial can learn all about them! Explore the different processes the body goes through after death in the new Body Decomposition Workshop here at the museum. This workshop contains potentially disturbing images and videos depicting decompositional processes, so is not recommended for young children.

Anyone attending this workshop will learn a great deal about decomposition and entomology in an interactive environment, as well as discussion of how this type of evidence pertains to the Casey Anthony case.

9-1-1 Calls
May 16, 2011

If you’re interested in the 9-1-1 calls from Caylee’s grandmother Cindy Anthony, you can find transcripts of them here.

Jury Selection Begins in Anthony Trial, “Decomp” Evidence Allowed
May 10, 2011

Nearly three years ago, 2-year-old Caylee Anthony’s grandmother reported her missing. After months of investigation focusing on Casey Anthony, Caylee’s mother, Caylee’s skeletal remains were found near her house. Throughout that time Anthony lied repeatedly regarding her daughter’s whereabouts.

This week, the next step in the legal proceedings against Casey Anthony for murder and misleading law enforcement has finally begun–jury selection. Due to the massive publicity associated with the case, this process is taking place in Clearwater, Florida rather than in Orlando where the crime took place, in the hopes of finding a jury pool untainted by the media attention. That pool of jurors is shrinking as the judge allows many to go home for financial and family reasons–the jury may be sequestered for months, preventing jurors from working or taking care of family.

Potential jurors’ answers to several questions will narrow the pool further–for instance, any preconceived ideas about the case based on the media attention may influence the decision, as may strongly held views on the death penalty.

As the next step in a prolonged and controversial case, the selection of the jury is a historical moment, but is not the only aspect of the trial currently making history in the field of criminal investigation. The judge ruled yesterday that evidence regarding decomposition should be admissible–the first time evidence of this nature will ever appear before a Florida court.

During the investigation, multiple witnesses, including a police officer with experience with decomposed remains through the homicide department, noticed a “decompositional” odor in Casey Anthony’s car. Tests were later done of the air in the trunk by experts from the University of Tennessee, the university that hosts the body farm, to show that a decomposing body had been in the car. The judge’s ruling allows these witnesses to testify to this information before the jury.

Stay tuned for updates as the trial continues. For more information on Casey Anthony and up-to-date trial coverage, go here.

For a full timeline of the case, go here. For the latest on the jury selection process, go here.

 

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