The murder trial that has gripped a nation and the blogosphere draws to a close with a member of the public gaoled for contempt of court and the lawyers being given a day to prepare their closing speeches before the trial resumes on Sunday.
During jury selection for this trial on May 11, a woman interrupted the process, and was sentenced summarily to two days’ imprisonment for contempt. In sentencing her, Judge Perry said that but for her obvious mental disability, he would have imposed a considerably lengthier sentence.
Yesterday, Thursday, he sentenced a man who might be termed a spectator for contempt; Matthew Bartlett, apparently a rare Casey Anthony supporter, was seen to make an obscene gesture to State Attorney Jeff Ashton. As Bill Sheaffer commentating for WFTV said, he paid a high price for his fifteen minutes of fame. He was sentenced to six days in the Orange County Jail, ordered to pay a $400 fine, and $223 costs.
This treatment may sound harsh, but Court 23A is not a playground, and a capital murder trial is no laughing matter.
It may be that after this trial a third person is sentenced for contempt, lead defense attorney Jose Baez, who a commentator for WFTV suggested is “crazy like a fox”.
Today, Friday, was taken up with legal argument and rebuttal witnesses. It looked at one point as though the process would drag out after yet another objection from Mr Baez, until Judge Perry told him there are real problems and imaginary problems, adding he hoped this was not an imaginary problem. Curiously, the pace quickened somewhat after that.
After Perry had dismissed the jury until Sunday – giving the lawyers Saturday to prepare their final presentations – Cheney Mason made an impassioned plea for dismissal, alluding to the State’s case as fantasy, but really one has to wonder who is fantasising here.
In response, Linda Drane Burdick pointed out simply that the jury was the arbiter of fact. Perry did not waste words in dismissing the motion.
What Mr Mason seemed to forget is that his client could have taken the stand and explained how her daughter died accidentally; she was not obliged to do that of course, and did not, for obvious reasons.
We can expect verdicts on all charges by late next week.
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