Day 16: Evidence indicates ‘foul play’

By Nikki Namdar
Special to Valencia Voice

Dr. Jan Garavaglia testified at the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony trial on Friday and stated there were many “red flags” and much “foul play” to indicate that Caylee Marie Anthony’s death was not an accident, but in fact a homicide.

Garavaglia, the chief medical examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, said during direct examination that it was in fact a murder because of three reasons: the death was not reported to authorities, the body was in a container, and the body hidden.

She explained because of the “preponderance of evidence … no other logical conclusion could be found. [A person] who has a legal, ethical obligation to care for a child, not reporting that child missing, the fact it’s tossed in a field to rot in a bag, is a clear a indication the body was trying to be hidden.”

Defense Attorney Cheney Mason asked the doctor, “You’re saying circumstantial evidence to you says it probably was a homicide?”

“Not probably,” replied Garavaglia. “I think that is the only logical conclusion based scientifically on some of the scientific information we have, based on observational information we have on homicide and children dying.”

She told Mason that based on her studies on children and accidental death, specifically by drowning, that 100% of the time, the unexpected incident is reported because there’s the chance that the child could survive.

“No matter how stiff that body is,” Garavaglia said, “they always call 911 in hopes that the child could be saved.”

Garavaglia said there was enough evidence to classify this as a murder. Because the cause of death cannot be determined, she classified it as homicide by undetermined means.

Karin Moore, a law professor at a Florina college, said Garavaglia’s diagnosis was an opinion based on the manner of death.

“She could not say the child died of asphyxiation,” said Moore, who was a defense attorney for 22 years. “She ruled out accident, and on what basis? I don’t know.”

A video by Forensic Anthropologist Michael Warren was presented after Judge Perry asked the jury to step out of the courtroom. The footage showed a photograph of the accused mother and her 2-year-old daughter with a picture of the toddler’s skull, duct tape superimposed over her mouth.

Casey Anthony stared blankly at the screen as she watched her daughter’s face disintegrate.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton explains the the purpose of this video is to indicate “whether the tape is the murder weapon, and in this case it is.”

Doctor Warren explained to Baez during cross examination that the video was “to illustrate the width of the tape could cover the nose and the portal to the mouth.”

Defense Attorney Jose Baez described the presentation a “disgusting fantasy” that is not supported by anything that can be testified. He suggests that it may cause confusion on each of the jurors, and would be misleading. The jury was brought in and shown the video, but showed no reaction.

The doctors testified that there was no trauma to the bones found and the body was so decomposed that they were unable to identify if there was any trauma to the child at all prior to death. The only disruption to the bones was carnivore damage.

Casey cried and put her head down when the doctors revealed that animals in the woods chewed on Caylee’s remains.

Susan Constantine, body language expert and jury consultant said Casey showed a lot of body gestures that indicated fear, worry, and for the first time, empathy. As the doctors continued to characterize the crime scene, Casey placed a tissue up to her nose.

“She was having a recall of the odor,” Constantine said.

When the jury left for the final recess for the day, Baez requested a motion for a mistrial for unprecedented evidence, saying he believed the video was based on “possibility.” Judge Perry denied the motion.