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?
For starters, going for the death penalty was a brazen move. Life in prison would have been more palatable to the masses and probably the jury. There were only two women on Florida’s death row and it was doubtful that Casey Anthony would have been the third.
The State probably went for it hoping for a plea deal or wanting a death penalty qualified jury (ironic). Interestingly, Casey Anthony would not have qualified for the death penalty in Texas, and they’ve executed quite a few people over there.
The State did not have to prove motive. But to say it was premeditated murder and not give a motive is like serving cake without icing. The motives the State gave were, frankly, pathetic: she killed the child so she could party, or she killed the child because her lies would have been caught.
A better motive would have been to use the “new boyfriend Tony” angle. Then, they could have used the text messages to Casey’s friend, Amy, which showed that Casey really liked Tony in the days before the child’s disappearance. They could have shown Casey doodled her name as “Casey Lazarro,” etc.
This motive still would have been a stretch. In fact, any motive would have been a stretch because of Casey’s past relationship with her child. No witness could produce any character testimony which indicated Casey had any issues with her child.
Chloroform in the Trunk:
The State set them self up to be humiliated by their chloroform theory. I already went through the flaws in that theory (read post). In their first murder theory before the remains were found, they needed a murder weapon and came up with chloroform. They were stuck with that after the remains were found.
A better theory would have been to say that there was a dead body in the trunk and she used an abundance of cleaning agents to mask the smell for a while. The constant use of cleaning products could explain why the chloroform peaks were so high on the chromatograms. The implication that she was concealing a stain and foul odor plays more to the cover up of a crime.
The problem with this is that the trunk did not “appear” to be cleaned.
Duct Tape on the Face:
Murder by duct tape is odd. Usually duct tape is associated with kidnapping and silencing.
The State should have said Casey Anthony killed the child and put duct tape on the face to make it look like it was a kidnapping. She hid the body near the home so people could find it easily and then told people her child was missing and kidnapped. When the body would have been found, there would have been duct tape across the face and her lies would have been validated.
The State said the duct tape was on the face because the mandible was in place. Now, I disagree with the accuracy of that statement (read post), but they should have taken the assertion to the next level. Instead, the State prepared a computer animation showing that the duct tape could have been on the face because of its size, but that was a meaningless demonstration.
They should have prepared a computer animation showing the decompositional process of a face with duct tape on it. It would have been very graphic and, in my opinion, inaccurate, but this was about winning the case.
However, the fact that she told the kidnapping story after 31 days is problematic. If it was her intention all along then why didn’t she raise the alarms on the first day?
By strengthening the links in the story to make it more believable, the State’s theory has suffered a setback: cause of death. Before modification it was poisoning and/or suffocation. Fortunately, the State was never bound to prove a cause of death; but like motive, it’s advantageous to include one.
What forms of murder are left that does not include anything traumatic? Suffocation by blanket? The defense would still have had a field day ripping apart the theory.
The State should have pushed “aggravated manslaughter of a child.” It seemed throughout the trial that they didn’t even want to contemplate that – it was capital murder or nothing. They got greedy instead of going for the sure thing.
If there’s anyone to blame for Casey going free, it’s not the jury, it’s the State.