Monday, May 30, 2011


After almost three years since the death of Caylee Marie Anthony, Casey Anthony's murder trial began this week in Florida.  As the trial started, we heard the State of Florida's, and Casey Anthony's defense's opening statements.


On Tuesday, Florida state prosecutor, Linda Drane-Burdick, told a powerful story showing Casey lied for 31 days, partying while no one knew where little Caylee Anthony was.  She told a simple, powerful story showing Casey lied to avoid getting caught after murdering Caylee so that she could be free of  the chains of responsibility. "No one else benefited from the death of Caylee Marie Anthony.  Caylee's death allowed Casey Anthony to live the good life, at least for those 31 days."

For the first 20 minutes of Linda's opening statements, Casey sat stone-faced, at times shaking her head no.  Drane-Burdick described a month of moves Casey made without Caylee by her side, all leading up to when George Anthony found her car at a tow yard, flanked by a worker at the towing company, saying: "And as they approached the vehicle, an overwhelming smell is emanating from it."

Legal analyst Bill Sheaffer called the state's opening statement a "Masterpiece" that detailed nothing but lies, from Casey's fictitious job to an imaginary nanny.  Drane-Burdick said: "There is no Zanny.  Like Casey Anthony's job, Casey Anthony's babysitter was a figment of her imagination".

It all culminated with the theory of what happened.  Drane-Burdick: "Examination of that scene revealed that the body of Caylee Marie Anthony had been wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket, stuffed into multiple garbage bags, shoved into a laundry bag, and then thrown into a littered swamp like she was just another piece of trash".

The defense painted a much different picture.  They called Casey a victim and dropped bombshell after bombshell as to what they said happened.

Jose Baez, Casey's lead defense attorney started his opening statements by saying:  "Caylee Anthony died on June 16th, 2008 when she drowned in the family's swimming pool." He continued explaining their version of events by saying "As soon as Casey went into the back, she saw George Anthony holding Caylee in his arms.  She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry, and cry and cry.  And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her 'Look at what you've done! Your mother will never forgive you and you will go to jail for child neglect for the rest of frickin' your life!' "  Jose dropped another bombshell when he accused George of one of the worst things a father could face.  "She (Casey) could be 13 years old, have her father's penis in her mouth and then go to school and play with the other kids as if nothing had ever happened."  Jose continued that George and Casey covered up what happened, and that long time sexual abuse led Casey to not only tell lies, but live a lie.  Baez: "Casey was raised to lie. This child learned to lie from the age of eight years old".


Legal analyst, Bill Sheaffer, says that although the defense's theory is quite compelling, it doesn't completely ring true. "You would have buy that law enforcement, the prosecutors, the Anthony family, in particular George, the FBI, all engaged in a conspiracy".  He continues by saying that the theory falls apart with claims that Roy Kronk, the meter reader who found Caylee's remains, had staged them there for some unclear reason.  After hearing Jose's accusation during opening statements, Roy Kronk's attorney made a statement denying any involvement of Kronk hiding Caylee's remains.

Another major hole facing the defense's theory is an August 14th, 2008 jailhouse video showing Casey actually mocking the theory that Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool.  In this video, Cindy tells Casey that the latest theory of what happened to Caylee is that she drowned in the family's swimming pool. Casey quickly responds sarcastically, saying "Surprise surprise".  Legal analysts believe that this jailhouse video will most likely make it into this trial, and it will have a big impact on the jury.


People wanting seats in the courtroom have been lining up outside the courthouse every day in hopes of getting one of the available 50 spectator seat tickets.  Careful to not have any courtroom outbursts, court deputies have been careful with the spectators they do allow into the courtroom.  They prevented one lady of coming in when it was determined that she was drunk.  A camera crew even went up to her and said that they could smell alcohol on her breath, with which she responded: "Oh, so can you?  Do you have a degree in alcoholism or something?"  She was slurring her words as she answered, and then she left.


Although many say that defense attorney Jose Baez delivered a powerful opening statement, the rest of the week didn't go so well for him.  He had a run-in with the media and was scolded by the judge time and time again.  Camera crews caught Baez as he shouted out an obscenity and then threw down his briefcase after being tripped by a news cameraman on his way to the courthouse.  In court, it appeared that he was either unknowingly or intentionally breaking the judge's rules repeatedly. Judge Perry at one point told Jose "Do not go there!  Next question" after he asked George Anthony a question involving George's attorney.  Jose then said to George: "You were specifically excluded from the rules of sequestration", at which point Judge Perry interrupted and immediately called him over to a sidebar to further scold him.  Judge Perry said that Jose was unfairly trying to cast doubt on George's testimony because he is allowed to listen to everyone else's testimony.  Later, Judge Perry sent jurors out of the room to further admonish Jose about repeatedly not following the judge's instructions not to ask questions about a photographs which were not yet in evidence.


Casey's most experienced attorney, Cheney Mason, has stayed in the background for the majority of the trial so far, allowing Jose Baez to take the lead.  The only time Cheney questioned a witness was on Thursday, when he briefly questioned one of Casey's former male friends.


In Jose Baez's opening statements, he made serious accusations against Casey's father, George Anthony.  Jose sparred with George, asking sleazy, unnecessarily cruel questions, trying to trip him up during his questioning.  He accused George of sexual abuse against Casey and of trying to cover up Caylee's accidental drowning death.  Legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said that Baez was trying to come across as Casey's protector against her allegedly abusive father, but Casey's lies, the defense's admission that Casey is a liar and George's sincerity on the stand will make it an uphill battle.

Prosecutors destroyed Baez's attempts by asking George if he had covered up Caylee's death, of which he answered no, that if he'd known that something had happened to his granddaughter "we wouldn't be here today".


Emotional testimony came from Casey's brother's fiancee, Mallory Parker, who broke down as she described the special bond between Casey and Caylee as being "amazing".   Jurors also heard from the tow yard manager, who described smelling the scent of human decomposition coming from Casey's car.

Testimony from the men in Casey's life centered around how Casey lied to them repeatedly about where Caylee was.  Casey's most recent boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro, testified about his anger and feelings of betrayal by Casey when he first found out about Caylee's disappearance.  Text messages between he and Casey were gone through line by line, with Tony asking Casey why she didn't tell him about Caylee, and how Casey avoided answering him.  Then former boyfriend, Ricardo Morales, testified about his relationship with Casey and Caylee, and his posting of a photo of a man and woman with the caption "Win her over with chloroform" on his MySpace page.  He said that he posted it as a joke.  This testimony is expected be tied to searches for chloroform which were found on the Anthony home computer.  Ricardo also testified about sleeping arrangements with Casey and Caylee in his apartment.


Bill Sheaffer said that next week we can expect to hear testimony about the 911 calls that Cindy made, including the infamous statement she made "There's something wrong. We found our daughter's car today and there smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car!".  This will serve as an entry to police testimony.  Baez is expected to cross-examine Cindy, but he probably won't be as accusatory as he was with George Anthony.  She has too much sympathy from the jury at this point.  He's going to have to talk about the fact that there was a possibility that the pool's ladder could have been accidentally left on the pool.   Lee Anthony is also expected to take the stand.

The trial is expected to resume on Tuesday, May 31st at 9am.

Notes garnered from WFTV news.

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