Day 1 Of Emotional Casey Hearing Wraps Up

March 3rd, 2011 by Staff

ORLANDO, Fla. — An emotional hearing on several motions in the case against Casey Anthony wrapped up Wednesday evening with attorneys prepared to head back to court Thursday.
Casey walked into the courtroom at 9:05am, wearing a red sweater and dark slacks. She was accompanied by her lawyers. Casey’s parents were both on hand to testify in the hearing.

The first discussion was a motion to quash on the subpoenas for jail employees.
The Orange County Corrections attorney started by bringing up the jailhouse video showing Casey’s reaction to Caylee’s remains being found. However, it’s a moot point since the state isn’t going to use it; as a result, the jail wants the subpoenas of Orange County jail employees to be dropped.
Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez, also shared his opinion on the jail attorney’s comments. As a resolution, Baez is expected to meet with the prosecution about needed interviews.
Attorneys also discussed the sequestering of George and Cindy Anthony during hearings and, ultimately, the trial. Perry said it will be case-by-case, but offered to let them testify first so they would be able to listen to the rest of the hearing.
Cindy was called to testify shortly thereafter and Casey began crying as soon as her mother was sworn in.
The prosecution is trying to establish a case for law enforcement discussions with Casey and her statements made the night, and following day, when her mother called 911 in July 2008. The defense believes they should be suppressed.
Cindy was visibly upset on the stand as she struggled with questions from prosecutors about whether she wanted her daughter arrested when she learned of Caylee’s disappearance.
“Seeing your daughter is very traumatic, being handcuffed and taken to the car,” Cindy said on the stand about the night Casey was arrested.
The prosecution was not playing softball with Cindy and pushed her hard to help them support their argument that Casey’s comments to law enforcement are admissible and should not be suppressed, which is what the defense is fighting for.
“I tried to get Casey to take me to Caylee,” Cindy said.
“Then you wanted deputies to find Caylee?” prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick asked.
“Yes,” she said. “It was a very difficult night, evening for me that day. I’m not stupid. This is very unsettling for me.”
Cindy stepped down from testifying and Casey seemed to do everything she could not to look at her mother as she got down from the stand. As Cindy walked past Casey, Cindy looked over and Casey just stared down at her papers.
At about 10:55am, George Anthony took the stand to testify. As George took the stand, he appeared to blow a kiss toward his daughter as she seemed to try to hold back tears.
Questions went right to the night deputies were first called to the Anthony house.
“I asked what was wrong. She said Caylee was missing. ‘Someone has Caylee,’” George said. “The topic was about Caylee and trying to find where she was at.”
Baez pressed George about how Casey was taken into custody and whether she was read her Miranda rights. The questioning was directed at whether Casey voluntarily went with a detective looking for Caylee and whether the intention of detectives was to look for Caylee or to charge Casey with a crime.
“I know there were some unpleasantries. Answers about where my granddaughter was at,” he said.
Baez also asked George to describe when Casey was handcuffed by officers.
“I walked outside with the deputy who had escorted my daughter,” he said.
“How long was Casey in the back of the police car?” Baez asked.
“Maybe about 30 minutes to an hour,” George replied.
George told Baez that Casey was taken out of the handcuffs and escorted back into the home. Later that evening, George said Casey and a detective spoke alone in her room. He said he did not know what they talked about.
Judge Belvin Perry set the tone of authority in his courtroom and kept both sides on track during George’s testimony.
Prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick was questioning George Anthony. The two started going back and forth over whether deputies responded quickly enough when Caylee was first reported missing.
Judge Perry stepped in right away.
“That’s a sore subject between you and I and we can badger all day long,” George said to Drane-Burdick.
“Excuse me, I am going to object,” Drane-Burdick replied.
“Just a second folks, listen … question, answer …. be quiet! Question and answer. Don’t talk over each other,” Perry stated.
George stepped down from the stand at approximately 10:47am.
After Orange County Deputy Ryan Eberlin briefly took the stand, Judge Perry called for a recess until 1:30pm.
When the hearing resumed, Deputy Eberlin was back on the stand. Casey’s attorney, Cheney Mason, questioned Eberlin about what happened when he responded to a 911 call made by Cindy.
The defense said that Casey was wrongly handcuffed by a rookie deputy and is trying to convince Judge Perry to throw out evidence.
Deputy Eberlin admitted that he wrongly handcuffed Casey, and shortly after removed the handcuffs. Eberlin said that after the mistake was corrected, Casey was free to do what she pleased; she was not considered a suspect.
After Deputy Eberlin stepped down from the stand, Deputy Adriana Acevedo was called.
Deputy Acevedo was also asked to describe when she responded to the Anthonys’ home on Suburban Drive. She also talked about when Casey accompanied Acevedo in her sheriff’s office cruiser to the Sawgrass Apartments, where Casey said she left Caylee with her alleged nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez.
At 2:38pm, Judge Perry called for a 15-minute mid-afternoon break.
When they resumed, Detective Yuri Melich took the stand. Melich was asked by Baez about Caylee’s disappearance and about the night officers responded to the home.
“I was unaware that she was placed in handcuffs,” Melich told Baez when asked about Casey being taken into custody. “I was unaware of what transpired before I got there.”
Baez proceeded to ask Melich about Casey’s claim that she worked for Universal Studios. Melich escorted her to the park after she stated in a verbal and written statement that she was an employee there.
Melich stated that he believed she was lying about her employment. When they were at the theme park, employees could not find Casey in their database.
“I can’t fathom that the mother of a missing child could lie about this,” Melich said.
The hearing wrapped up a few minutes before 5:00pm. There were no decisions made on Wednesday regarding Casey’s statements to law enforcement, and Judge Perry called for a recess until 9:00am Thursday with several outstanding motions yet to be discussed.
Casey goes on trial May 9.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said Judge Perry will not be as forgiving and calm as the previous judge on the case, who removed himself over an alleged relationship with a blogger. Judge Perry has a reputation for running a tight ship and his style is expected to keep the case moving.
Sheaffer listened and analyzed developments from court Wednesday. There are nine motions expected to be heard and Sheaffer said they’re all important. He said Wednesday and Thursday’s hearings will be vitally important in the case against Casey.
“It’s the defense’s attempt to limit that evidence and try to break the circumstantial evidence chain the state will use to try to convict Casey,” Sheaffer explained.
The court spent hours on motion two, discussing Casey’s statements with law enforcement after Cindy called to report Caylee’s disappearance. The defense wanted that suppressed.
There are four motions to suppress or exclude statements or evidence in the case. Sheaffer told WFTV that all four are important.
“Why is it important? Because each and every bit of evidence is what’s used to form that circumstantial evidence chain to show Casey was the killer of the child,” Sheaffer said.
The defense, Sheaffer said, will try to break that chain that goes toward raising a reasonable doubt in the case.
Another motion seeks to strike the defendant’s supplemental witness list.
Sheaffer said the defense failed to file that list on time, and now the court will likely weigh the people on that list on a case-by-case basis. Sheaffer said, in order for the defense to succeed, it must win at least a few of the motions.
WFTV will be in court Thursday to hear arguments over more significant motions, including a contempt of court case against Baez.

WFTV has learned how Casey Anthony’s lead attorney, Jose Baez, is going to try to defend himself against a civil contempt of court allegation. It seems Baez is blaming other people for his problems.

Baez is blaming the prosecutor for playing games, and blaming Chief Judge Belvin Perry for allowing it. Baez even blamed the judge for not responding to his request.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer says the blame game is not going to fly with the judge.
Baez faces possible jail time or fines if the judge finds him in contempt of court for missing yet another court-ordered deadline. Judge Perry ordered Baez to defend himself, but Baez has gone on the attack.
“It’s, ‘I’m not at fault because, judge, it’s your fault and it’s the prosecutors’ fault together and separately,’” Sheaffer told WFTV (watch raw interview).
Baez was given 13 days at a February 4 hearing to give prosecutors his specific arguments as to why air tests done on Casey Anthony’s trunk, showing evidence of human decomposition, are not based on sound, time-tested science. Baez wants the evidence thrown out.
Tuesday, Baez says the specifics prosecutors want, and the judge has ordered, are not legally required and Baez implies the judge is enabling what he calls prosecutors’ games to disrupt his work on Casey’s defense.
“That’s probably the most obnoxious of the allegations, is that somehow Judge Perry has become a puppet of the state,” Sheaffer said.
But Baez also claims he was confused by the judge’s order and attempted Monday, 11 days late, to provide more specific arguments against scientific evidence he’s known about for at least two years.
Baez made what Sheaffer called a veiled threat that this distraction could lead him to ask for a delay of the trial.
Sheaffer says, if Baez believes he can pressure the judge to back down to avoid a possible delay or even an appeal issue, he’s mistaken.

There’s still a very busy week ahead in the case against Casey.
Motion hearings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, and there’s a status hearing scheduled for Friday.
Casey’s defense team is expected to talk about late witnesses they just added in the past two weeks.

It’s becoming clearer how prosecutors will try their case against Casey Anthony. Documents obtained by WFTV (read it) show prosecutors will not be using certain pieces of evidence in the case; that’s including the jail video that shows Casey’s reaction after she learned her daughter’s remains had been found.

That’s not the only thing prosecutors will leave out of the trial. They’re also not going to call one of Casey’s jail pals to testify, and won’t tell the jury what Casey said to investigators during her arrest on a first-degree murder indictment in October 2008.
All that evidence is a mixed bag or comes with too much baggage.
Casey Anthony did not cry when she saw WFTV’s report about her daughter Caylee’s remains likely being found in the woods near their house. Instead, jail guard Tammy Unser said Casey appeared to be hyperventilating, sweating and complaining that her waist chains were tightening around her.
There’s video of that, partly because sheriff’s investigators told jail guards to monitor her reaction, but prosecutors have decided not to show it to the jury.
“The more participation the sheriff’s office had, the more it was staged to get her reaction, the greater danger it is that it could become an issue on an appeal,” WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said (watch full interview).
Sheaffer says statements made by Casey’s jail pal, Maya Derkovic, are too dicey to present to the jury, because her story grew with time. She told WFTV that Casey talked about chloroform, but never mentioned that to investigators.
“Why sully your case? Why endanger a conviction by using this type of evidence?” Sheaffer questioned.
And the day Casey was indicted and arrested for first-degree murder, she told investigators they would not trick her into a confession and that she would do what it takes to prove her innocence.
“If her statements aren’t viewed as self-serving, they certainly are equivocal and you can spin on it what you want,” Sheaffer said.
Sheaffer says iffy evidence weakens the strong case the state has with its forensic evidence and long chain of circumstantial evidence linking Casey to Caylee’s murder.

Casey’s defense team added more people to its list of witnesses Tuesday. They include two prison inmates.
Both Robin Adams and Maya Derkovic were Casey’s jailhouse friends. Also on the list are Texas EquuSearch volunteers, and WFTV’s Kathi Belich, though Casey’s lawyers haven’t said why she is on the list.

Casey Anthony’s defense team questioned her former best friend under oath Monday.
Amy Huizenga accused Casey of stealing her checks, and using them at stores such as Target, while Caylee Anthony was missing. Casey was caught on surveillance video using the checks.
Casey was charged with check fraud, but that took a back seat to the murder charges against her for allegedly killing her daughter Caylee.

Casey Anthony’s defense filed a motion Thursday night asking the judge to throw out comments about the smell of a dead body in Casey’s car trunk.

Casey’s defense claims the rotting smell in Casey’s trunk came from a bag of trash with spoiled food. They want the comments tossed out so the jury can’t hear them.

Chief Judge Belvin Perry ruled on several key motions in the case against Casey Anthony on Thursday regarding which evidence the jury will be allowed to hear.

There are no real surprises in the judge’s rulings, according to WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer; much of it goes to Casey’s state of mind in the days after her daughter disappeared.
Casey claimed she was distraught and doing her own search, but the evidence the judge says the jury will hear tells a different story.
Prosecutors can tell the jury about Casey’s history of lying and stealing, and her dark MySpace “diary” from days after Caylee’s disappearance talking about death and deception.
The jury will also hear how Casey borrowed a shovel from her neighbor, Brian Burner, the week after Caylee disappeared, and about a tell-tale tattoo, which says “Beautiful Life” in Italian, she got during that same time period when she claims she was searching for Caylee.
The jury will also hear limited details about Casey’s sex life with ex-boyfriend Tony Lazzaro, who told prosecutors Casey was having nightmares and never told him Caylee was missing.
“It is important to show her state of mind and her conduct, because it is inconsistent with a mother whose child is gone missing,” Sheaffer told WFTV.
The defense had tried to keep all of that evidence out, but the judge ruled that it is relevant to the case and the jury should hear it.

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