State rebuts, jury begins deliberation

By Nikki Namdar

Special to Valencia Voice

The state of Florida gave their rebuttal against Casey Anthony’s defense on Monday in her murder trial, and handed the case to the 12 men and women of the jury to begin deliberation.

Casey Anthony is accused by the state of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, by suffocating her with duct tape concealing her nose and mouth. The defense theorizes that the toddler drowned accidentally in the family swimming pool, and the death was covered up by her grandfather, George Anthony. Her remains were found on Dec. 11, 2008 in a wooded area near the Anthony family home.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton argued that George was a loving father and grandfather. As demonstrated by his suicide note, he had no idea what happened to his granddaughter because the questions in the letter reflect his confusion, Ashton said that George believed the videotaped jail conversations he had with his daughter confirm that notion, referring to the videos as a “window into this relationship.”

“George isn’t this Machiavellian, self-serving monster that counsel has suggested,” Ashton said. “You cannot read this letter and not see this man was in pain.”

Ashton discussed the science in this case y, stating the mandible remained attached to the child’s skull because it was the duct tape that secured it in place, a theory lead defense attorney Jose Baez disputed when he called renowned pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz to the stand. Spitz said the duct tape was applied after decomposition because there was no DNA found on the adhesive side.

“Dr. Spitz’s version of the events is non-credible,” Ashton said.

He also argued that Spitz’s comment about the cranium not being sawed open is not a “violation of protocol,” as stated by their witness Michael Warren, an anthropology professor at the University of Florida. “Dr. Spitz’s theory has now been disproved,” Ashton told the jurors.

Air samples were collected from the trunk of Casey’s car by Dr. Arpad Vass, the “unapologetic science geek,” as described by Ashton, who said the interesting thing about Vass is that “he loves what he does. He loves the challenge of solving.”

Vass found a tremendous about of chloroform in the samples that he said blew him away with surprise.┬áVass also stated the moment he smelled the sample of the trunk odor he knew right away it was of human decomposition. The defense’s witnesses argue the smell was actually from the bag of trash that was found in the trunk, but Ashton fought back when he said there was no remnants of food left behind in that bag.

“The myth of the garbage has been disproved,” Ashton said. “That smell was not from the garbage, it was from Caylee.”

Lead prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick followed up with a passionate rebuttal, making comments on the trash bag, as well.

“That trash bag was placed there as a decoy,” she said, adding that when Casey left her car at the Amscot when she ran out of gas, she backed into the dumpster. “The dumpster was a decoy to keep people away from the car and make them think it’s the source of the odor.”

Throughout Drane-Burdick’s closing rebuttal, she outlined Casey’s lies, saying they were given to her parents as a way to “buy time” to be with her boyfriend and friends, and calling her a “pathological liar.”

“Everybody grieves differently, but responses to guilt are predictable,” Drane-Burdick said. “What do guilty people do? They lie.”

Drane-Burdick presented a jailhouse video clip of Casey’s parents, George and Cindy, visiting their daughter in jail. Cindy explains to Casey that people are speculating that Caylee drowned in the pool, to which the defendant replied, “Surprise, surprise.” Burdick sees this as proof the theory is false.

“When Caylee is found dead, ‘Surprise, surprise,'” said Burdick. “No person would ever make an accidental death look like murder.”

The prosecutor concluded that while everyone else was searching for Caylee, her mother was with her boyfriend having a good time while her daughter decomposed in the woods.

“Whose life was better without Caylee?” asked the prosecutor. “That’s the only question you need to argue in consideration why Caylee Marie Anthony was left at the side of the road dead.” Then proceeded to cast a two photographs adjacent to each other portraying Casey, laughing and dancing with her friends and boyfriend at a nightclub, alongside a photograph of the tattoo she got when Caylee is allegedly-missing that reads, ‘Bella Vita,’ which translates from Italian to ‘beautiful life.’

Baez requested a motion for a mistrial following the state’s rebuttal, for improper comments made by the prosecutors, which Judge Belvin Perry denied.

The jury was given their final instructions and dismissed for deliberation at noon. They are not expected to discuss after 5 p.m., which court administration says will be their cut-off time until tomorrow morning.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter on a child, along with four counts for providing false information to a law enforcement officer. If convicted, she may face the death penalty.