Casey Anthony: Mystery Solved.

Above the State Attorney’s Office in Orange County, FL reads the message:

“Seek Truth, the Cornerstone of Justice”

“Justice for Caylee” starts by seeking the truth. And the truth is always in the evidence.

~~~

For most people, the premise of a mystery is irresistible. At the conclusion of the trial, I was left disappointed because I felt that the mystery had not been solved. While I was watching the trial, I could see that there were inconsistencies in both the State’s and defense’s version of events. It was painfully obvious that there was more to the story than was being told.

Therefore, I started this blog. I wanted to know what happened. Did Casey Anthony murder her child according to the State’s version of events? I spent countless hours reading the police transcripts and FBI reports – thanks to Florida’s liberal release laws – as well as rewatching trial testimony.

I looked at the chloroform and computer evidence and determined that it was highly improbable that Casey made chloroform (read “The Chloroform”, “The Computer Forensics”). I looked at the trunk evidence and accepted that there was a body in the trunk for a short while (read “The Trunk”). I researched papers on the decompositional process of a human body and concluded that the duct tape could not have been on the face for the reasons the State implied (read “Challenging the Duct Tape”). I read accounts of what Casey was like during the “31 Days” and realized that there was a misportrayal of her behavior in the media (read “The Cover-Up”).

After all that, it became clear that Casey did not murder her child the way the State claimed (read “The Analysis”).

I proceeded to research the character of Casey Anthony and the relationship she had with her child. I spent hours reading transcripts from her friends and family. I could not find anyone who had anything bad to say about Casey as a mother. Psychologists who examined Casey in jail spoke out on her behalf after the trial ended and dispelled misconceptions.

It was then I realized that there was no murder (read “Casey: Loving Mother?”).

What happened?

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Casey Anthony: Overlooked Evidence

Almost one-and-a-half years after the verdict, pseudo-investigators are still researching the evidence in the case of the State of Florida vs. Casey Anthony. Longtime TV investigator Tony Piptone has been on this case since the beginning and gained notoriety for his researching skills. This past week he released a report outlining “overlooked” evidence in the case which “may have affected the outcome.” However, the evidence was not exactly new as Jose Baez, Casey’s former defense attorney, revealed it in his book.

What was the nature of the evidence?

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Casey Anthony: Summarizing the Psychologists

When you turn on Nancy Grace (or any show on HLN), you hear from mental health “experts” who proceed to tell you that Casey Anthony is a psychopath or sociopath. They say she has a narcissistic personality disorder. They say she’s a pathological liar. The problem is that none of these “experts” have ever met Casey Anthony or studied her past. They sell you their “expert opinion” with superficial analysis.

Meanwhile, the reports from psychologists who actually examined Casey Anthony in jail tell a very different story than comments from their TV counterparts; and their opinions are substantiated by hours of research and hard data.

What did they say?

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Casey Anthony: Dissecting Jeff Ashton’s Book

I give credit where credit is due. Jeff Ashton was a helluva prosecutor in this case. Like him or hate him, you can’t deny that the man was good at selling a story. It was almost unfair how much better he was than anyone on the defense team. The secret behind his success was his logical reasoning. His theories just made sense, so it was difficult for people to argue against him. However, in this case, his logic was his downfall.

While reading his book, I found myself agreeing with Ashton on many topics. Indeed, if you read his book and read some of my previous posts, you will see that in many places my logic mirrors his – which is a bit eerie. However, on the issue of murder, we disagree. Ashton has repeatedly said in interviews that his book outlines the “truth” as he believes it. I commend him for adding the disclaimer.

Ashton reviewed the case evidence in his book and I’m going to keep him honest. What was true and what was embellished?

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Casey Anthony: The Anthonys vs. The Evidence

I had forgotten how much I dislike Dr. Phil. Unfortunately, George and Cindy Anthony decided to talk to him in exchange for a donation to their charity. In an exclusive interview, they revealed what was happening behind-the-scenes in the Casey Anthony case for last three years and their thoughts on the matter. It certainly was an interesting, albeit frustrating, interview to watch.

I believe both were honest as to what they believed. But were they really telling the truth? To figure that out we have to look at the evidence in this case.

How did their responses fit the evidence?

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Casey Anthony: Zanny, the Nanny

Casey Anthony told her friends and family that a woman named “Zanny” babysat her child while she was at “work.” In a statement written on July 16, 2008, she advised LE that she left her child with the babysitter, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, on June 16, 2008 and had not seen either of them since then (read statement). The detectives proceeded to look for the woman, however their leads were nonexistent because no one had actually seen or talked to “Zanny, the Nanny.”

Who was this woman?

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Casey Anthony: Challenging the Duct Tape

I hate objections. I hate when testimony is cut short, especially when it is the opinion of a scientist. It’s not right. The truth should never be silenced. However, that is the way the judicial system works. If you do not like what is coming next, object and plead your case. Both sides were guilty of concealing the truth.

The Testimony Never Heard

After the trial, I wondered why the defense did not elicit testimony about the duct tape from Dr. Arpad Vass given his experience with decomposition. Then I remembered they called someone else. Dr. William Rodriguez, a forensic anthropologist, attempted to testify on June 18, but his testimony was cut short by the State (view testimony). They contended that the opinions he was going to render were not included in his written report. Personally, I couldn’t care less for the legal argument. Who cares if his opinions weren’t in a report? I wanted to hear what he had to say.

However, the prosecution didn’t. What was he going to say that had them scared?

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Casey Anthony: Loving Mother?

The State attempted to portray Casey Anthony as a cold-hearted, callous killer who never had any emotional attachment to her child.

A character profile is necessary in determining what kind of person a suspect was before the crime was committed and what kind of relationship they had with the victim. I missed the first few weeks of character testimony so I went back and read all of the police interviews conducted on her family and friends.

After the fact, we know the story. She lied about her child and seemingly showed detachment when questioned by law enforcement. The police interview at Universal demonstrated that behavior (read interview, listen) and the jail visitation videos showed it.

The State said Casey was heartless and only “appeared” to be a caring, loving mother for the cameras (see photos) but her actions were never genuine. But the statements given by her friends in police interviews paint a different portrait.

Which do you believe?

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Casey Anthony: The Drowning Theory

Many have said that the defense produced no evidence of drowning. True enough, they did not present any direct evidence but they did not have to prove anything. The State had to prove their allegations were true, not just plausible. The theory of defense is beautiful in the cases where innocent people are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously, people felt this situation was a little different.

This is not the defense’s theory where George Anthony finds his granddaughter in the pool. While George Anthony had his fair share of impropriety with the family, it was baseless to associate him with the cover up. I mean, his daughter was arrested. He’d have to be pretty cold-hearted to let all of that happen to her if he was involved. That part of the theory does not pass the believability test. But in order to take all culpability off Casey, Jose Baez needed a scapegoat and George played right into his hands. However, the evidence suggests that Casey Anthony acted alone.

But there was certainly circumstantial evidence to support drowning. In fact, if you threw out the unsubstantiated chloroform claim (read “Chloroform Theory”) and rightfully questioned the duct tape placement (read “Challenging the Duct Tape”), there was certainly as much circumstantial evidence to support drowning as there was murder.

How could it have happened?

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Casey Anthony: The State’s Weak Case

The prosecutors in this case were fantastic. Their crosses of defense experts were nothing short of brilliant and their skill was unmatched by anyone on the defense team. They even got a little cocky but who can blame them as public opinion was on their side. They ran a textbook case. It really was the State’s case to lose. And lost they did.

It was not about truth or justice. It was about winning.

They presented a theory with unlikely murder weapons: duct tape and chloroform. Never before had either been used to kill a child, especially by a mother with a nonviolent past.

They presented analysis which had never before been testified to in Florida such as decomposition odor analysis, postmortem root banding, and cadaver dog hits. There was seemingly a trial within a trial: acceptance of the State’s theory and acceptance of the State’s evidence.

They presented a contradictory motive: Casey killed her daughter to seemingly continue living a life she was already living. They concocted a few other theories from the child becoming verbal to Casey being jealous of the child’s attachment to her grandmother, Cindy.

In actuality, the State faced tremendous hurdles in getting an unbiased jury to accept their theories of murder that the general public viewed as infallible.

What should they have done differently?

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Casey Anthony: The Analysis

The truth is always in the evidence. However, in my opinion, a good story supported by circumstantial evidence will beat the truth because sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Usually a story with twists and turns is less believable than a story rooted in common sense, but it is no less true. Sometimes this reality forces defense attorneys to “modify” the truth to make it more believable.

If you read the past four installments (the chloroform, the duct tape, the trunk, and the cover-up), you will notice there is very little of the defense’s theory present. I wanted to evaluate the State’s theory as it related to all of the evidence presented in the trial (the defense put on evidence) and I also wanted to evaluate the credibility of the evidence itself.

This was a circumstantial case with no direct evidence showing murder. However, there was plenty of evidence available to form a theory and, clearly, the State formed the best one they could. The elements of the crime, according to the State: Disabling the child with chloroform, duct taping her airways to suffocate her, wrapping her body in a blanket and two bags, transporting her in the trunk of the car, “dumping” her body in a swamp, lying to friends and family about her whereabouts, and enjoying a child-less new life.

How much of this theory was proven?

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Casey Anthony: The Cover Up

The State alleged that Casey Anthony’s behavior after June 16, 2008 suggested that she murdered her child in order to enjoy her life.

Evidence:

Casey Anthony and her child were last seen together on June 16, 2008 when George Anthony witnessed them walking to Casey’s car. For one month, neither George nor Cindy saw Casey or her child. On July 15, 2008, Cindy confronted Casey about the whereabouts of her child. Casey indicated that the child was with the nanny. Casey later “admitted” that the babysitter kidnapped the child 31 days prior and Casey had been conducting her own search to locate the child. Cindy called the OCSO (read transcript) and Casey told them what happened in a written statement (read statement).

On July 16, 2008 Casey told detectives she worked at Universal Studios and took them there. They quickly discovered she did not work there and questioned her about information concerning the babysitter (read transcript). Casey was arrested later that day on child neglect and obstruction charges (see arrest affidavit) when investigators found her story “suspect.”

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Casey Anthony: The Trunk

The State argued that the decomposing body of the child was in the trunk of the Pontiac Sunfire, used by Casey Anthony, for 1-3 days before she deposited it off Suburban Drive. They also insinuated, at one point, that the child may have been killed while inside the trunk.

Evidence:

Casey Anthony abandoned her car at an Orlando Amscot in late July because it had ran out of gas. George Anthony received a letter indicating that the car was in a tow yard. When he went to pick up the car, he noticed a smell similar to human decomposition emanating from the closed trunk. The tow yard manager also smelled it and recognized it as such. Upon opening the trunk, they found a maggot-filled bag of garbage which the tow yard manager threw out. The bag was later recovered.

When George brought the car home on July 15, 2008, Cindy Anthony smelled the putrid odor and sprayed Febreeze in the interior and trunk. He went to work and she tracked down Casey.

The next day officers arrived with cadaver dogs and inspected the car. The dogs gave signals indicative of finding decomposition in the trunk. CSI’s confiscated the car and noticed a stain in the trunk. No blood or DNA material was found in the trunk.

The FBI analyzed a 9″ hair microscopically similar to that of the child which exhibited characteristics of apparent decomposition.

Air samples were also collected from the car and analysis by Dr. Sigman and Dr. Arpad Vass was conducted. Dr. Vass concluded that a decompositional event occurred in the trunk (report) but Dr. Sigman could not (report).

Was there a decomposing body in the trunk of Casey’s car?

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Casey Anthony: The Duct Tape

The duct tape was the main weapon for the State’s theory of murder. They alleged that Casey Anthony suffocated her child by forcibly wrapping duct tape around the child’s head covering both the nose and mouth.

Evidence:

Duct tape was located in a few places throughout this case. It was found on a gas can owned by Casey’s father (see photo) and on missing child posters created in 2008. However, this brand of duct tape was sold until 2006; therefore, one can infer that the Anthony’s had a relatively unused roll or multiple rolls of the rare-branded duct tape in the June/July 2008 time frame.

The brand is important because the same kind of rare duct tape was found with the remains of the child (see report) and about 6 feet away from the remains. Unfortunately and thankfully, the photos of the remains were released with significant blurring.  Therefore, I will rely on the testimony by Investigator Hanson (video), Dr. Utz (video), and Dr. Shultz (video) for my analysis. They were very detailed in reconstructing the scene as they found it.

Duct tape was found “adhered” to the hair which matted itself at the base of the skull. This, of course, led to speculation that the child was murdered and the State alleged that duct tape was the murder weapon. But does the evidence really suggest that the duct tape was on the child’s airways before death? That is the major question. I believe the remains, specifically the mandible, shed light on the answer. The following description of events may be too gruesome for some to read.

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Casey Anthony: The Computer Forensics

The computer forensics played a minor or major role in the trial depending on who you talk to. John Bradley, programmer of CacheBack, testified that a website was visited “84” times. The prosecution jumped on this numerous times, but evidence was presented during the defense’s portion of the trial to dispute this claim. Now, Bradley has stated that the website in question was only visited once.

This is the website which was supposedly “visited” 84 times on March 21, 2008: http://sci-spot.com/Chemistry/chloroform.htm. As you can see, there is not much on that page. Frankly speaking, 84 visits to that page means nothing.

But, of course, there were not 84 visits to any chloroform making page. It was to MySpace as the picture above illustrates.

Some have said this does not matter and that one search for chloroform is enough. But look at the timings. From start to finish, the edification took only 3 minutes and, most likely, half of that time was spent looking through the search results. Given the introduction of the MySpace picture (view pic) and the complete lack of physical chloroform evidence, one search seems irrelevant (read “Chloroform Theory”). How many people have searched “chloroform” or visited chloroform related sites since the trial began?

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Casey Anthony: The Chloroform

The State said that Casey Anthony made chloroform to incapacitate or kill her child. This was based on the evidence that chloroform was found in the trunk and a chloroform making site was visited 3 months prior to the child’s disappearance. Since Casey was indicted on first degree murder charges before the child’s remains were found, I believe this was the State’s first theory of premeditated murder.

Evidence

On August 26, 2008 and September 24, 2008, Dr. Arpad Vass submitted reports to the OCSO indicating the results of air analysis done on the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car (report). The primary reason was to ascertain whether or not there was a decomposing body in the trunk. His first report made no mention of chloroform, however his second report did.

Additional components that made up a portion of the total odor signature included gasoline constituents and an unusually large concentration of chloroform – far greater than what is typically seen in human decomposition.

Yuri Melich said that he talked to Dr. Vass on October 7, 2008 and Vass said there were elevated levels of chloroform present in the trunk (report). The FBI lab also acknowledged the presence of chloroform in the trunk. Melich then instructed the computer forensics examiner to search for any chloroform related words on the Anthony’s computer. Obviously, some were found. On March 21, 2008, someone searched “How to make chloraform.” Four minutes later someone searched “self defense.”

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Casey Anthony: The Verdict

Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty.

The three year case of The State of Florida vs. Casey Marie Anthony ended on July 5th, 2011. It’s slightly backwards to state the verdict of a trial then study the evidence, but we already know how this story ends: not guilty of murder, child abuse, or manslaughter. Casey Anthony was released on July 15.

Needless to say, the backlash was enormous. Although I understood the shock, personally, I was sickened by the public’s reaction. To see a crowd in a coffee shop stop and look at a TV in order to hear a guilty verdict was truly astounding. Just one year ago people were cheering Landon Donovan for scoring a goal against Algeria in the World Cup. This year people were waiting to cheer when Casey Anthony would be sentenced to death. Is this how sadistic people really are?

But this blog is not about the verdict. Rather, it is about the evidence presented in the trial and the theory presented by the State of Florida. The prosecution had to prove beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony murdered her child. They had to prove this to a jury of 12 American citizens, not anyone else.

The elements of the crime, according to the State: Disabling the child with chloroform, duct taping her airways to suffocate her, wrapping her body in a blanket and three bags, transporting her in the trunk of the car, depositing her body in a swamp, lying to friends and family about her whereabouts, and enjoying a child-less new life.  The State did not need to prove a motive. They did not need to prove how, where, or when the child died. But, obviously, they made suggestions on all.

I am going to examine the veracity, credibility, and believability of the evidence over the course of several posts:

It took 3 years for investigators to compile evidence and it took one month to present it in a court of law. Now, all of that information is available online for everyone to read (see links in Blogroll).

Prior to the trial, I knew little of the case. I was not tainted by the information (or misinformation) presented by the media. In essence, I could have been a juror; however, I lived in a different Florida county. I watched the trial and read the released discovery and, interestingly, I came up with the same verdict as the jury.

I thought Casey Anthony was not guilty as charged, but guilty of something. I hope this blog allows you to understand how I came to this decision.