Op-Ed: Casey Anthony trial – more forensic evidence
A further report on the trial of Casey Anthony as the State of Florida continues to build its case against her with a mountain of forensic evidence.
Yesterday, Saturday, June 11, saw four witnesses take the stand and five hours of testimony in the trial that has now eclipsed the double murder trial of OJ Simpson – domestically at any rate. Unlike Simpson, the young Florida mother is facing a potential death sentence
if she is convicted of the murder of her two year old daughter Caylee, whose remains were found dumped on waste ground near the family home in December 2008.
There are live feeds to the Orlando courtroom by the Orlando Sentinel newspaper
The first witness today was forensic entomologist Neal Haskell, an academic with a PhD in that discipline. He has testified in over eight hundred cases all over the world and might be described as a heavyweight expert witness. George and Cindy Anthony listened intently to his evidence from the back of the courtroom.
Like much of the forensic evidence in this case, Dr Haskell’s was necessarily unpleasant because it related to the insects found at the crime scene including on the remains of Caylee’s body. His conclusion was that the body had begun to decompose before it was placed in the trunk of the white Pontiac Sunfire which Anthony is alleged to have used to dispose of it, and that it had been kept in the car for sometime before it was dumped.
This time it was the turn of Jose Baez to cross-examine the witness, and he did so in his usual highly confrontational and at times blunt manner. There were a few moments of levity when the distinction was made between trash and garbage as had happened on June 3
, although later this discussion became somewhat philosophical.
For once, Perry over-ruled objections from the State during cross-examination. Dr Haskell said the crime scene was the most intensely processed he had ever witnessed.
Then came the inevitable – how much have you been paid, sir? The response was $23,000 to date without his testimony, which is $400 per hour with lots of extras. Again, this is a ludicrous line of questioning for a highly paid attorney to make, and although the Doctor’s fees may sound exorbitant to Joe Sixpack, they are by no means exceptional for a highly academically qualified expert witness, indeed, many academics are paid more
for doing less.
Next, CSI Jennifer Welch made her second appearance on the stand, where she said her team had spent ten days at the crime scene, and there had been upwards of fifty people present at times. She herself had collected nearly four hundred pieces of evidence, including a piece of duct tape.
Next, Ronald Murdock, also of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, exhibited some photographs including of a shed in the backyard of the family home with duct tape clearly visible on a gas can, the same type that had been used on Caylee. A most interesting exhibit consisted of some heart-shaped stickers found in Casey’s bedroom. One of these had apparently been used on the duct tape the State claims was used to bind Caylee’s mouth. This is arguably one of the most damning pieces of evidence presented in this case, and one more strand in the already thick rope that looks like hanging the charge of premeditated murder around Casey Anthony’s neck.
The last witness, Gerald Johnston, was a land surveyor who showed the jury a 3-D animation of the crime scene and environs. He was not cross-examined by Jose Baez, whose may have realised his gambit of asking how much expert witnesses are paid is beginning to wear thin.
The case will continue tomorrow.