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article imageOp-Ed: Casey Anthony trial – another bad day for the defence

By Alexander Baron     Jun 10, 2011 in Crime
Orlando - A further update of the trial of Casey Anthony for the 2008 murder of her two year old daughter, Caylee. Yesterday saw the State present an array of expert witnesses who were unshakable on the stand.
Yesterday, Friday, “Tot Mom” had another bad day in court as the State called more expert witnesses beginning with John Schulz. The academic is an anthropologist and an expert in the forensics aspects of this field.
When he said some of the bones found at the crime scene had been gnawed on by animals, Anthony took it badly and almost broke down. She was comforted by one of her defence team Dorothy Simms, who one commentator said appears to have been relegated to the role of babysitter during this trial. A woman was led from the public gallery during this testimony, which clearly distressed many people. She will undoubtedly have elicited more sympathy than Anthony, who was taken ill yesterday.
Cheney Mason cross-examined but couldn’t make any headway. There followed Dr Jan Garavaglia, Chief Medical Examiner for Orange County since 2004, and an academic as well as a dedicated forensic pathologist with an impressive CV.
She explained there were three “flags” that indicated homicide in a case like this where the deceased was a child:
Caylee had not been reported missing for “some time” – some people might just call 31 days some time.
The body was hidden – often in a container – a plastic bag in this case.
The third factor was the duct tape.
Dr Garavaglia was also cross-examined by Cheney Mason, but he couldn’t shake her from the self-evident fact that there was no legitimate reason for a live child to have duct tape on face, and no reason for it to have been put there after an accidental death.
She continued to insist that based on the skeletal condition of Caylee’s remains, homicide of undetermined means was the only plausible cause of death. Mason became somewhat argumentative over the diagnosis, buy by this time the State had as good as destroyed the ludicrous assertion that the person who found the body – meter reader Roy Kronk – had interfered with the crime scene in any way.
The next witness was Dr Michael Warren. Then there arose another one of those legal matters that required the absence of the jury, so Judge Perry sent them out telling them he didn’t know how long it would take, but there was some dessert waiting for them. It remains to be seen if any of them felt like eating after what they had been party to. This matter appeared initially to be more technical than legal, but Jose Baez raised legal issues too saying the State’s strategy was basically let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.
What the State planned to do was to show the jury a video Dr Warren had made which included a photograph of Caylee Anthony’s head with duct tape superimposed on it. Baez called this a “disgusting superimposition”.
This caused Perry to retort that he may wish to read Macduffie v State of Florida, a Supreme Court of Florida decision from 2007, from which he quoted a passage. Then he read out his ruling as judges do, and added a civil case, one involving Brandon Pest Control from 1998.
Baez went on to say the State was engaging in needless presentation of cumulative testimony citing his own case law. This sort of evidence was, he argued, more prejudicial than probative. That may be the case, but as Ann Rule wrote in her biography of serial killer Ted Bundy, pathologist Dr Thomas Wood testified about the autopsies on the two girls Bundy killed in the Chi Omega murders, and “over objections from [Bundy’s lawyer], produced 11- by 14-inch color photos of the bodies, pointing out the damage to the jury.”
On the same page, Rule pointed out that it is standard for defense attorneys to protest autopsy pictures, declaring them “inflammatory and with no probative value”, and it is standard too that the pictures are admitted.
And so it was here, Perry said he would allow the evidence to be adduced subject to certain strict limitations. Although Baez has come in for a lot of criticism from many commentators, he has certainly done his homework, but if he lives to be a hundred he’ll never be a match for Perry.
In the end, Perry decided to hear Dr Warren’s testimony in the absence of the jury, after which he would decide if they should hear it. He did, and so did they.
Dr Warren was followed by Michael Vincent of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who had previously testified on June 4. Yesterday, he testified relating to forensic evidence from the crime scene. His appearance this time was very brief, and he was followed by Robin Maynard, another CSI. Her evidence was also very brief, after which Perry dismissed the jury until 9am Saturday morning, today.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, after they had left the court, Cheney Mason of the defence team tried again for a mistrial, arguing that the video evidence of Dr Warren could serve only to inflame the jury. In rebuttal, prosecutor Jeff Ashton submitted that the State’s case was that the duct tape was the murder weapon and that therefore the video was properly admitted in evidence. Perry said that at that point the motion for mistrial would be denied, but that he would reserve the right to reconsider later in the proceedings.
The case continues.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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