Op-Ed: Casey Anthony now more infamous than OJ

Posted Jun 13, 2011 by Alexander Baron
A report on the final expert witnesses tendered by the State in the trial that has gripped the U.S., that of Casey Anthony, who if convicted could face the death penalty.
Casey Anthony.
Casey Anthony.
An edit of the photo at the url below
Today, the Orlando courtroom of Chief Judge Belvin Perry Junior heard more forensic evidence in Florida v Casey Marie Anthony as the State came close to wrapping up its case against “Tot Mom” for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee.
The first witness was Stephen Shaw, an FBI specialist in the analysis of fibres and hair.
It looked as though there would be a major objection from the defence when the State asked to put in evidence a Powerpoint presentation which had not been disclosed, but it appeared that all the photographs therein had been given to the defence although the presentation itself had not. This evidence related to experiments that had been carried out on human hairs to determine rates of decomposition.
All the same, lead defence attorney Jose Baez found something to object to. In the absence of the jury he claimed the expert evidence amounted to improper bolstering, unfair prejudice, and late presentation.
The study to which the witness alluded predates the death of Caylee Anthony by several years, and the State did not become aware of it until May of this year.
After considerable argument by both sides, Perry made his usual wise ruling, in this case deeming the Powerpoint presentation inadmissible, a rare point for the defence, adding that if the defence chose to mention the photographs, it may become admissible, as Perry said, you cannot use a shield and turn it into a sword.
In his ruling, the judge made special reference to the fact that this is a capital case, but according to legal analyst Bill Shaeffer commenting for WFTV, the exclusion was a Pyrrhic victory for the defence, adding that no one who has been convicted of capital murder before Judge Perry has successfully appealed a legal ruling.
The second and final witness today was Elizabeth Fontaine who didn’t need a microphone and sounded like she was reading from a script. Actually, she sounded more like a Dalek, but she was certainly confident. Although definitely not the sort of girl most men would like to have bellow sweet nothings in their ears, she was not without charisma, and referred more than once to the CSI TV series when describing her work. There can be little doubt that like all the other expert witnesses in this disturbing case she impressed the jury. It was she who found a heart-shaped residue on the duct tape the State alleges was used to bind Caylee’s mouth.
Bill Shaeffer came up with a phrase that he seemed to think would rival the infamous phrase used in the OJ trial, but
“Just because it’s new
Doesn’t mean it’s not true”
doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as
“If the glove doesn’t fit
You must acquit!”
Having said that, the State doesn’t need gimmicks in this case, as the facts speak for themselves.
Shaeffer was on firmer ground when he made the telling comment that if this trial had happened at the same time as the OJ Simpson double murder trial, Casey Anthony would have gone to the library and researched chloroform there, and no one would have known about it. He was also on firm ground when he said this trial is now bigger than OJ, at least in Florida.
There appears also to be an emerging consensus that Casey will not take the stand, because as Shaeffer said, what does she have to say? And will the jury believe anything she says, if she does?
Back in the courtroom, the best the defence could manage was to elicit from Elizabeth Fontaine that there were no fingerprints on the duct tape, which was hardly surprising considering that it had been exposed to the elements for months.
The court finished early today for logistical reasons; on closing the session, Perry said the State was liable to rest its case by Wednesday, and that the trial should be finished by around the 27th, although he told the jury not to hold him to it.