Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Casey Anthony: Opening statements


Nearly three years after the murder of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, her mother's day in court has finally arrived.

The highly anticipated murder trial against Casey Anthony began promptly at 9 a.m. Tuesday as Chief Judge Belvin Perry called the jury of five men an seven women from Pinellas County into Courtroom 23, on the highest level of the Orange County Courthouse.


Prosecution's opening statement
Casey burst into tears as prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick described the last day Caylee Anthony was seen by her grandparents.

The prosecutor said Casey Anthony's appearance as a hard-working single mother was an illusion, recounting what Casey allegedly told her parents she was doing during the 31 days Caylee was missing before it was reported, and what Drane-Burdick said evidence will show Casey was really doing during that time.

As she went through each of the 31 days, Drane-Burdick repeated the question: "Where was Caylee?" She ultimately said the toddler died from duct tape placed over her mouth and nose.


Casey's bombshell defense
Mystery has surrounded the Casey Anthony case since Caylee first disappeared in June 2008.

Why did Casey wait so long to report her daughter missing? What was in the trunk of her car? And how will her lawyers defend her against charges of murder?

After court returned from recess for lunch, defense attorney Jose Baez unleashed a series of bombshells, pointing the finger Casey's father, George Anthony:

Baez claimed Caylee drowned in the Anthony family's swimming pool.
This is the first time any of the case's key players announced a cause of death. He said Caylee died June 16, 2008, the day after the Anthonys claimed they last saw her alive.

Baez claimed George Anthony sexually abused Casey when she was 8 years old.
He claimed this is the root of Casey's tendency to lie to authorities, and "If she goes in lying her butt off, who's going to believe a liar, especially when she cries sexual abuse?"

Baez also claimed Casey's brother, Lee Anthony, also tried to sexually abuse Casey years ago.

Baez claimed George helped Casey cover up Caylee's death.
He also mentioned Casey's parents tried to cover up Casey's pregnancy, and that this "bizarre family behavior" was a pattern.

Baez did made it clear that George Anthony was not to blame for Caylee's death, calling it "an accident that snowballed out of control."

Baez claimed Roy Kronk took Caylee's body and hid it.
He said the "morally corrupt" meter reader wanted to collect the reward for finding Caylee's body. But according to Baez, Kronk "didn't read the fine print," that the reward was for an alive Caylee Anthony.

According to Baez, Kronk went into the wooded area on Aug. 11, 2008, allegedly to urinate, and told his co-workers he found a skull. But when his co-workers started walking into the woods, they were distracted by a dead snake.

Baez claimed Roy Kronk told his son overseas "I found Caylee. Watch for me on TV."
He said Kronk's son will testify that this conversation with his father happened on Dec. 10, 2008, the day before he called 911 to report finding human remains in the woods.

Baez claimed that the so-called "smell of death" in Casey's car came from garbage left in the trunk.
Casey's attorney said she put trash in her car trunk to drive to the dumpster at her then-boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro's apartment complex. But she forgot, and later ran out of gas, leaving the car at the Amscot for days before George Anthony eventually picked it up.

"The most important thing you'll hear on the 911 tape is silence."
Baez told the jurors they will hear Cindy Anthony yell to George that Casey said "Zanny the Nanny" took Caylee, followed by silence.

He said George Anthony later said in sworn testimony that he was not home during that 911 call.

George Anthony had a mistress who gave him money so he could pretend to be working.
Baez said the jury will hear from a Crystal Holloway, who will testify that she had an affair with George Anthony, and when she asked him what happened to Caylee, he replied, "It was an accident."


State's first witness: George Anthony
Following a brief recess, prosecutor Jeff Ashton called the state of Florida's first witness: Casey Anthony's father.

Just minutes after being accused of molesting his daughter and covering up his granddaughter's death, George Anthony took the witness stand and denied both claims.

Ashton walked George through his life before Casey's pregnancy and Caylee's birth, including meeting Cindy, fathering Lee and Casey, and moving to Florida from Ohio in 1989.

George then described life with Caylee, saying she was an extremely bright little girl who called him "JoJo."

He said at the time Caylee disappeared, he was working security for a company in Altamonte Springs, Sundays through Thursdays on the afternoon shift.

Questioning then turned back to Casey, when George said he wanted to believe that his daughter was employed at Universal Orlando Resort, like she said. But Jose Baez's questioning for the defense later revealed George doubted Casey's previous employment with the Sports Authority.

George confirmed that Casey had told him a woman named "Zanny" was watching Caylee. During cross-examination, he also confirmed that he never met the alleged nanny, and never thought it was necessary to do so.

Then Ashton began asking George about June 16, 2008 -- the date Baez said Caylee drowned. George, however, said he spent a "typical" morning with Caylee as Casey got ready to head off to work. After that, he said he never saw Caylee again.

In Baez's cross-examination, George said he did not confirm Casey was pregnant until around three months before Caylee was born. Baez asked if before that, George thought Casey just had a "beer belly."

George said he had a feeling Casey might have been pregnant before she and Cindy sat him down and actually told him. He said he believed Casey was retaining water, and claimed she had put on weight in the past when she was active in athletics.

After court was put in recess, Anthony family attorney Mark Lippman released the following statement:

George and Cindy Anthony are shocked and appalled that the defense would resort to lies about them in today's opening statement.

Baez's idle speculation today certainly are not facts. The only result achieved by the defense in this statement was to further hurt this grieving family.

George Anthony maintains that he never had anything to do with the death of Caylee Marie Anthony, including what happened to her remains after she allegedly drowned. The sworn testimony given today shows that he has never wavered about his knowledge regarding these events. He, like the rest of the Anthony family, only seeks the truth about what happened to their granddaughter.

Many thanks to WIDOWAN for updates: England not covering the case for obvious reasons !