Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ponderous Plodding toward Justice for Caylee Anthony

Casey Anthony

Sometimes the gears of justice turn so slowly that they appear to be frozen in place. This month, Casey Anthony hit a milestone: 853 days in custody since her arrest in October 2008. She now has the distinction as the longest-serving female inmate in the population at Orange County corrections center, the area's county jail.

Nonetheless, with the trial less than three months away, it appears that justice is about to catch up to her and grind her to bits. Recent events look very grim for the defense.

Casey's attorney, Jose Baez, was fined by the judge for missing a deadline last December and has missed yet another one. He is under investigation for the second time in the last three years by the Florida Bar Association, and the prosecutor's office has launched a parallel tampering investigation sighting Baez in the crosshairs. The prosecutors are now asking the judge to hold the attorney in contempt of court.

A much ballyhooed defense witness, volunteer searcher Laura Buchanan,  is at the root of the tampering issue.  She signed a form swearing that Caylee's remains were not at the location where they were later found.  She wrote: "It is my opinion that the remains of Caylee Anthony were not there during the time of our search.  I personally searched near the privacy fence and worked my way towards and then beyond where the body was found.  I did not notice anything unusual."

Caylee Anthony
This statement supported the defense's claim that Caylee was placed in that spot after Casey was already in jail. Therefore, someone else committed the crime. However, Ms. Buchanan had a Texas Equusearch form in her possession that she should not have had. Buchanan has now admitted to altering that form after meeting with the defense. She said, "I can't say that to be true because I still to this day don't know where she was found, what area or what she was near."

On top of that, matters have not gone well for the defense recently in the motions they filed. Baez wanted the lying and stealing history of his client kept out of the courtroom.  Judge Belvin Perry, however, said, "The state may be able to introduce evidence of collateral acts--such as lying and stealing--which are inexorably intertwined with the crime charged if necessary to adequately describe the deed, provide an intelligent account of the crime charged, establish the entire context out of which the charged crime arose or adequately describe events leading up to the charged crime."

From Casey's MySpace page
Perry also ruled that Casey's MySpace entries in her "Diary of Days" were admissible to show Casey's state of mind at the time of the crime. He did exclude use of the Jib Jab cartoon about the case. He also stood with the prosecution on the issue of Casey's tattoo, "La Bella Vita," declaring that any possible prejudicial affect was far outweighed by the probative value.

As to the testimony of the Anthony's neighbor, Brian Burner, about his shovel, Perry said, "There is nothing inherently prejudicial about borrowing a shovel, nor is a shovel 'gruesome' evidence that would intend to inflame the passions of the jury."

Anthony Lazzaro
Although the judge tossed out testimony from Anthony Rusciano about sexual relations with Casey and ruled the same on details of her sexual liaison with Anthony Lazzaro, he did allow that her relationship with the latter Anthony during the time period in question was "highly relevant," viewing her demeanor at the time and in light of the fact that she never mentioned to him that her daughter was missing.

The defense motions to exclude evidence seem never ending.  We haven't heard resolutions to all of them yet.  I can't imagine the judge throwing out Casey's statements to the police in which she lied about the nanny and her daughter's whereabouts in the summer of 2008, but I am anxious to her the judge's ruling.

The case looks--almost--like a cakewalk for the prosecution. The one sticking point may be proving to the jury's satisfaction that Caylee was a victim of homicide. Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia could not determine a cause of death because of the ravages of decomposition. Intuitively, it is obvious that Caylee was murdered; her body was found stuffed in a laundry bag and tossed in an overgrown area.

Will that be enough for the jury? Or will they demand more before convicting Casey Anthony of premeditated murder? We will find out soon, enough, because the trial is scheduled to start in May.

Diane Fanning is the author of Mommy's Little Girl, the only published book about the murder of Caylee Anthony.  When the Casey Anthony trial begins, currently scheduled for May, you'll find daily updates of the case on Diane Fanning's blog, Writing is a Crime.


California Girl said...

The duct tape over the mouth is pretty telling. Add to that the sticker that came from the Anthony house. That would be enough for me

marybowman said...

I don't doubt that Caylee was murdered, either. But I can see where the decomposition issue would make things hard for the prosecution. Scary to think that Casey might skate on some very important charges.

Diane Fanning said...

California Girl,Everything does point to first degree murder both intuitively and logically, but I always keep in mind the Robert Durst jury who agreed with his self-defense argument even though he beheaded his victim and disposed of the body. It can be a real crap shoot without a plea bargain.

Scary indeed, MaryBowman. Hate to think of how many other people she could manipulate and harm if she were set free.

FRG said...

Mrs. Fanning,

Thank you for this article! If we only could have articles well written and well researched as yours!

I read Mom's little girl's book and I loved it, based on facts. Do you intend to write the sequel? If so, are you waiting for when the trial is over!

I have been following this case from the beginning and there is material for many book, Mrs. Fanning, there are so many twists and turns! You can't make this stuff up! LOL

Diane Fanning said...

Thank you, FRG! whether or not there is a sequel is up to the publisher. Whether or not there is actually a trial or a plea bargain is up to the lawyers. Only time will tell in both cases. LOL

Anonymous said...

big difference between "citing" and "siting"

Cathy Scott said...

That was an editing error (done by me). Diane actually wrote it correctly. Thanks for pointing it out!

Kathy said...

As scary as "beyond a reasonable doubt" and circumstantial evidence are, I cannot imagine that any juror without an agenda will have any problem convicting her and sentencing her to death for the horrible things she did to that baby girl. There are just too many actual facts that connect the circumstantial items of evidence for them to find anything else. It just jumps out at you about as fast as her family's lies on her behalf do. There is always the OJ criminal trial and Spector 1 to give us a little chill, but due to the fact that a sweet baby girl's life was snuffed out at the hands of her mother, I don't see a juror with an "agenda" on the horizon. Thanks for the good posts and the wonderful books and more that come from the great minds on this site. I really enjoy it!

Diane Fanning said...

Thank you, Kathy. I'm glad you're enjoying my books and this blogsite.

Anonymous said...

Any juror with a lick of common sense will take into consideration the following:

31 Days

Fake job/went WILLINGLY to Universal with OCSO only to admit fake job/office

Bella Vita Tattoo

No one ever saw Caylee alive again after she left the Anthony house with Caylee

The lies, the countless lies

The stealing

The partying during the 31 days

She NEVER reported her daughter missing.

The infamous "Whoah, what a waste, a HUGE waste" phone call

and last but nor least the imaginanny Zanny

Loved your book Diane. You should check out

It's the best blog going on the Anthony case. Valhall has assembled an excellent timeline of events!

Diane Fanning said...

True, anonymous, but unfortunately not every juror has a lick of sense.
Glad you liked my book.
I've been to thehinkymeter many times but not in recent months. I'll have to pay a visit soon.

Anonymous said...

In all likelihood, Caylee could have died accidentally or by neglect (e.g. drowned while unsupervised) and Casey could have decided to dispose of the body in a panic, therefore placing the duct tape over the mouth and nose and placing the possible sticker and wrapping in garbage bags. Remeber, there was no actual sticker found on the duct tape, just sticky residue in the shape of a heart. There is nothing that proves that did not occur in that way. It will be up to the Prosecution to CONVINCE the jury to believe it happened in the way they put forward, for there to be a unanimous verdict.

Personally, I don't know if I could sentence someone to death without hard proof that it was in fact a first-degree murder.

Life sentence, heck yeah.

Diane Fanning said...

In my opinion, Anonymous,there are two things that, combined, shred the credibility of any accident scenario. First of all, the internet research that began months before Caylee's death demonstrate Casey's desire to eliminate her daughter. Secondly, if it had been an accident, I do not think Casey could have remained quiet about that. At some point between mid-June and the discovery of the body in December, she would have told that story under pressure from her family or to law enforcement. As a narcissist, she would have been likely to believe that would extract herself from the situation particularly if she disclosed the location of the body.
To trot out that story at this late date would only bring ridicule.

Anonymous said...

The internet searches are a little too broad to attribute them directly to Caylee's murder. If she had added into the search query references of a "child", then yes. But for all we know, she could have entertained the idea of offing her parents at that point in time.

The other issue you raised is a psychological one. And I do agree with your thought. I've not much experience in that field. In my previous, I am looking at the accident theory in terms of physical evidence. What theories the defense could be (or could have) gone with that are plausible with the evidence we have thus far.

I absolutely do NOT believe this is a case of an accidental death, by the way. So don't get me wrong there. I'm just playing devil's advocate.

Diane Fanning said...

Glad to hear you are not an accident theory proponent.
Another thing that does not fit into that scenario is the Zanny story. That piece of fiction simply doesn't erupt from the mind of a woman accused of murdering a child that died by misfortune or neglect.
The duct tape also seems quite incongruous with an accidental death.

California Girl said...

If Caylee's death were an accident, I think Casey would have brought it up immediately. This would have allowed her to be the center of attention, get sympathy, and free her from mommyhood. She could walk like OJ but hopefully not.

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