A report on proceedings Thursday and Friday in the trial of Florida mother Casey Anthony for the murder of her two year old daughter, Caylee.
As of today, Friday, nearly eighty witnesses have been called in this case, but there isn’t too far to go now.
There is a legal maxim that there is no property in a witness; this led yesterday to CSI Gerardo Bloise being called as the first witness for the defense in addition to his earlier appearance as a State witness, but neither he nor any of the others who followed appears to have bolstered the defense case in any way. Certainly the suggestion that was made early on in this case - that Caylee had been fathered by Casey's brother, Lee - could not have helped either. This is one of many scurrilous claims the defense has entertained, and one that has been proven to be false, even so, it was put to FBI DNA expert Heather Seubert by Jose Baez, a line of questioning to which State Attorney Jeff Ashton objected vehemently.
The other major one is that Casey was sexually abused by her father from an early age, and that this is what accounts for her bizarre behaviour in the wake of the (accidental) death of her daughter.
In Britain, a defendant who elects to testify must do so immediately after the last prosecution witness; in the States, this is not the case, so we have no idea yet if “Tot Mom” will be put on the stand. If she does testify, she is going to have to perform significantly better than the expert from whom we heard today.
Often in fictionalised criminal trials, a prosecution witness will make a faux pas or be tricked into making an admission that exculpates the defendant, who may be facing a capital charge. Sometimes too it happens the other way around when a defendant who has been too clever for his own good slips up. A classic example of the former is the criminal libel trial of the Marquis of Queensberry in which Oscar Wilde hoisted himself on the barb of his own razor sharp wit.
The same thing happened in court Friday, only this time it was counsel for the defense who tripped himself up when Jose Baez elicited an admission from his own expert witness that he had been informed by Baez that Caylee's body had been found at a time when only Casey knew for certain she was dead.
Later, Mr Ashton turned the same expert witness for the defense into a prosecution witness. One commentator for WFTV said forensic entomology consultant Dr Tim Huntington had been totally eviscerated.
Another question raised during the same live coverage was how can Casey Anthony sit there looking composed while the court is talking about bugs eating her young daughter? The consensus appears to be that she is a sociopath.
There were also moments of levity such as when Dr Huntington was asked a question relating to his experiments with animal cadavers.
“Why didn’t you wrap your pigs in a blanket?” Ashton told Judge Perry he'd promised he would ask that question.
The jurors laughed, and so did Casey Anthony.
Asked if he had ever experimented with chloroform, Dr Huntington said he had not; high volumes of this substance had been found in the white Pontiac Sunfire the State claims was used to transport Caylee’s body.
Moreover, Dr Huntington agreed with the State’s expert witness that Caylee had died elsewhere and that her body had been moved sometime after it started to decay, which together with the other evidence is consistent with its being kept in the back of her mother’s car for sometime after her death.
In a break, there was some discussion on WFTV about how much Dr Huntington in particular was being paid, as his fee is being covered by the State. One thing is for sure, after the mauling he received at the hands of Jeff Ashton, he has earned every cent of it.
While the jury witnessed the spectacle of an expert witness being beaten up by a lawyer in a figurative sense, there was a more even-handed battle earlier outside the building as prospective spectators resorted to fisticuffs. The authorities have now decided that instead of allowing people to queue up outside the building before dawn for the fifty available public seats, that tickets will be handed out at 4pm the day before the hearing.
This case really is bigger than OJ, attracting viewers from Germany and doubtless many other places. WFTV commented that of the 60,000 (sixty thousand!) odd bloggers who were contributing to the on-line discussion, one is said to have made the telling comment that Casey doesn’t have to testify because her body language is testifying for her.
A potential witness turned up outside the courtroom to give an imprompt press conference with his lawyer. Somehow the name of convicted kidnapper Vasco Thompson had been linked with George Anthony; there were said to have been telephone exchanges between them when Caylee still was missing.
Mr Thompson’s lawyer said that he had been the “golden ticket” that defense attorney Baez had hoped for, but in the first place, the kidnapping had nothing to do with abducting children, it was a domestic dispute that lasted five minutes and had resulted in a conviction in 1988; his client he said had been the victim of a justice system in which money could buy a better defense.
Furthermore, Mr Thompson had not acquired his current telephone number until February 2009, long after Caylee’s body had been found. He was also a church-going man and married to a schoolteacher, – “not the convicted felon that he's been portrayed to be”. And apparently not the type of person who enjoyed the limelight.
Back at WFTV the verdict on this charade was that yet another totally innocent person had been implicated in this dreadful crime by an obviously guilty defendant.
The trial continues tomorrow morning, Saturday.
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