Day 13: Internet searches weaken defense in The State of Florida v. Casey Anthony

By Nikki Namdar
Special to Valencia Voice

Shocking computer forensic evidence was revealed to the jury on Wednesday, potentially damaging the defense in The State of Florida v. Casey Anthony.

The 25-year-old is accused of murdering her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, in 2008, then dumping the body in a wooded area near her family’s home. Wednesday’s evidence lends credence to the prosecution’s claim that the murder was premeditated.

John Dennis Bradley,owner of computer forensic firm SiQuest, spoke to the jury on the 13th day of trial about his investigation of Anthony’s desktop computer.

“One of the words of interest was ‘chloroform’,” said Bradley, adding that the user who conducted the search manually erased the machine’s Internet history.

The former law enforcement officer from Ontario, Canada became an expert witness in computer forensic analysis on Wednesday, testifying about searches he found that took place on the computer.

Wikipedia was visited countless times on March 17, 2008, including pages on chloroform, alcohol, acetone, peroxide, hand-to-hand combat (viewed twice), head injuries, middle meningeal artery, ruptured spleen, chest trauma, internal bleeding, self-defense, and hypochondria.

Additional searches for chloroform were made in subsequent days on the website, which the user visited 84 times. Two Google searches were also conducted to discover how the toxic liquid is created.

Searches were also made to find directions on how to make weapons out of house-hold products, along with neck-breaking and a Wikipedia page on the word ‘shovel.’

Defense attorney Jose Baez asked Bradley if there was a possibility that a person participated in the search of these things for educational purposes.

“Wouldn’t the better evidence be to show the jury the actual page as opposed to the link?” asked Baez. (Assistant State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick objection to Baez’s suggestion was sustained by Judge Belvin Perry.)

“These websites could be, as some indicate, jokes?” Baez asked.

“Yes,” replied the investigator.

“Some could be self-defense?” asked Baez.

“Yes,” said Bradley.

Similar questions followed, asking the computer expert if exploration of these items could have also been for medical or chemistry-related reasons. Again, Bradley replied, “Yes.”

Baez also questioned the witness on whether or not he was informed that some of the items discovered in evidence were or were not related to the case.

In a re-direct with Burdick, Bradley was asked if it is fair to presume the user was just “surfing” the web for these products.

Judge Jeanine Pirro of the Fox Channel disagrees, saying that these searches were very crucial to the case, and when presented to the jury, could have been harmful for the defense counsel.

“It shows premeditation,” said Pirro. “As hard as Baez tried, he couldn’t take the searches or topics off the computer.”

“I think we all go online and expect the Internet to educate us,” Pirro said. “The Internet explains the answer.”