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