16 Days

    Early Saturday afternoon marked the end of sixteen days of intense testimony from the people who have almost become household names over the past three years. Some we've vilified, while others we've grown to know and respect. The list is long and varied, and it will grow even longer this week as the State nears the final stages of its case against Casey Anthony. So far, we've seen a veritable who's who in this case, from law enforcement and expert witnesses to Casey’s immediate family, her former friends and her erstwhile lovers. We've watched and listened to cross-examinations, readdresses, recrosses and redirects, not to mention what must be close to a record number of sidebars.
    The past weeks have brought us quite an education in many respects. We've learned a lot about Casey's life, as told by some who were very close to her. I imagine many of them still feel remorse for not recognizing Casey’s complex emotional problems, but they were in their early 20s and at that age her problems were not theirs. And no one saw it coming.
    As the trial progressed and professionals took the stand, it became clear why the State believes it has enough evidence to convict her. Before the trial started, State Attorney Jeff Ashton said that you never know what a jury will do, no matter what evidence you present. There's never enough confidence on either side, but in this case, defense attorney Jose Baez was dealt a lousy hand from the start, and the deck remains stacked against his client.
    The jury has heard particularly damning testimony against Casey, including the stench of human decomposition in her car. Her parents, the police, and the most preeminent person in the field, Dr. Arpad Vass of Body Farm fame, all testified to detecting that odor. Two K-9 handlers testified separately about how their cadaver dogs hit on human decomp in the trunk and back yard of the Anthony home. Orange County Sheriff's Office CSI investigators examined Casey's cell phone, her laptop and family desktop computers, and two digital cameras for evidence pointing to her involvement in Caylee’s death.
    Computer crimes investigator Kevin Stenger of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office found incriminating evidence on the Internet history cache on computers in the Anthony household. But it took a civilian techie named John Bradley, the owner/programmer of CacheBack, to uncover hidden evidence on a computer desktop - 84 instances of how to make chloroform in searches that could only have been performed by the one unemployed person in the Anthony household at the time.
    Then came the most horrific evidence of all - photographs of Caylee's skeletal remains resting in trash bags in woods off Suburban Drive. As picture after picture flashed across the courtroom monitors, we saw it all, and it must have been as unpleasant for the jury as it was for the gallery of credentialed media and the 50-odd seats filled by the public.
    Those images were followed by testimony from Dr. Jan Garavaglia, better known as Dr.G. She is the Chief Medical Examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, and she performed the autopsy on Caylee. She described the difference between manner of death and cause of death. The manner of death is based on scientific principles and circumstances surrounding the death. Things that are outwardly observed formulate an opinion, and that helps decide what constitutes a homicide. In Caylee's case, there are three main reasons:
  • She was not reported missing immediately;
  • Her body was hidden;
  • No child should ever have duct tape over its mouth, whether antemortem or postmortem.
Although Caylee's death was deemed a homicide by undetermined means, a cause of death in other circumstances could be attributed to injuries or diseases that initiate a chain of events. Diabetes, for instance, may trigger kidney failure followed by death. Therefore, kidney failure would be the cause of death, not diabetes. If defense attorney Cheney Mason meant to shred Dr.G's testimony, he failed miserably. In 100 percent of all accidental child deaths, they are reported, she said on cross-examination. It's a "legal, moral and ethical responsibility," she added.
    Another fascinating field of forensics is entomology, or the study of insects. A professor of forensic entomology at St. Joseph's College in Indiana, Dr. Neal Haskell is considered an expert on the link between insects and human decomposition. Flies were collected from the bag of trash in Casey's car trunk, including the ones found in paper towels. The type of flies collected in those towels are only associated with decompositional fluids, he testified. When the towels were sent to Vass for evaluation, they were determined to contain adipocere, or grave wax. Haskell told the jury different species of flies develop over a period of time. As one dies off, another one comes in. The lifecycles of flies help tell the story of what transpired in the trunk of Casey's car.
    What's important to note is that, in my opinion, Baez had some very good flourishes in his crosses and recrosses. He even reached the point of occasionally deserving praise, except for one critical area– the defense’s “accidental death by drowning” strategy. For example, Baez suggested that the spike in chloroform could have been caused by a wet bathing suit in the trunk of the car. But Vass shot down that theory, saying the level of chloroform found in the trunk could not have come from just chlorine in a pool. When Baez said raw meat could have been responsible for the grave wax, flies and odor, Haskell said that the types of flies found were not the same types of flies that are attracted to processed foods. There are too many pieces of evidence that fit together, and I don't see any cohesive plan coming together in most of the cross-examinations.
    What's next? The field of botany, for sure, because plant growth in and around Caylee's remains will tell a tale as poignant as the one from Haskell, who also explained the difference between garbage and trash. Garbage and trash was also a sticking point between Baez and OCSO CSI Supervisor Michael Vincent. Haskell explained that garbage is primarily decomposing organic material, while trash is any non-organic matter, such as glass, plastic and cardboard.
    Yes, there are many other names on the State's witness list, but it couldn't possibly call them all if it expects to rest its case this week. Who else? I don't know, but wouldn't it be fitting if it's Bobby Williams? He's the artist who inked Casey's now famous Bella Vita tattoo on her upper back. She's not having such a beautiful life now, is she?






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Comments, page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 Next »
Jun 12, 2011 09:18 pm
 Posted by  Carole

As interesting as all of the testimony has been it still must be hard sitting there all day everyday! We owe you our thanks for bringing the intricacies of things that those of us that are watching from home or work are missing. Even though I am lucky enough to be able to spend most of my days watching the trial on tv it is a treat to be able to read your writings about what went on. I do miss a lot of things that I don't realize I missed till I read your account of things.

The highlight of all the testimony this past week for me was the incredible Dr. G! She told it like it is, with no ifs ands or buts!! The idea of an accidental drowning in which George had a hand in covering up was so far out in left field that it seemed like a joke. And whe Dr. G stated that "NO CHILD SHOULD DIE WITH DUCT TAPE OVER THEIR FACE" it was magic!! Also when she told Mason that putting duct tape on the face of a child after death was not done, well, another golden moment!!

As much as I liked and respected the judge that Judge Perry replaced, I think it was the best thing that could have happened in this case. I trust Judge Perry to make the correct decisions regarding what evidence to allow and what not to allow.

I just can't wait to see what kind of a show the defense is going to put on when their time comes. It should be very interesting!

Be sure to take care of yourself........we depend on your insights!

Jun 12, 2011 09:21 pm
 Posted by  Nika

Dave - This was a great summary of the 16 days. It is really great hearing it from someone who has been at the trial and can give us the feel of sitting there with you. I feel the State has done a great job and I like the sequence approach they have taken. One more week and then the defense takes over. I might just have to read your great post for that part. Don't think I could stand Baez for so long.
I think the State will end with the tattoo as that is how they ended their Opening Statement.
Take care and thanks for keeping us updated.

Jun 12, 2011 09:59 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Well, Dave once again you've painted a very vivid picture of what the courtroom brought to light last week. There are a lot of things so far that have come out in this trial that just don't seem to fit together. Hence, back to the old witness list for another dose of the Crazey Life....I have often wondered about the Cellphone pings....as well as THE STORY......"Zanny the Imaginanny" did it. I await the testimony of Richard Grund and can only hope that his son Jesse gets the opportunity to testify. Is Cindy going to be back on the stand?? Perhaps maybe George and oh yes lets not forget Lee. As the Prosecution is expected to rest this week and the excitement begins to build, will the Defense's list include some key players.... who could they be? As we wonder down Hopespring Dr. and turn the corner onto Suburban Dr I'm sure that the Defense will be ready to share the big surprise.

Jun 12, 2011 10:21 pm
 Posted by  Mary Jo

Dave, thanks for the great summary of the past 16 days. Dr. G's testimony for me this week was the best. She was able to hold her own against Mason. She shut him down quickly and she was very endearing and I think that the jury probably liked her a lot. Her testimony was believable and you could tell that she knew what she was talking about and had a passion for her job. The prosecution is building a nice timeline and everything seems to be fitting into place. I think they have given the jurors so far plenty of evidence showing that no one but Casey is the person who murdered her daughter. I think it would be very fitting if they could finish their case on Thursday, June 16th in honor of Caylee. That day marks the 3rd anniversary of her death. If they aren't finished by then, I hope that they some how choose to acknowledge it. I loved the ending to your article. I don't think Casey is having such a beautiful life now. Thanks again for this great article!

Jun 12, 2011 11:19 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, Carole has convicted my heart-I haven't told you enough, maybe not at all!, that I appreciate your articles on the trial of which you go to the courthouse to get the account for us. This goes way beyond taking a trip to the Suburban Drive woods to send me a leaf from that site! Many thanks, Dave! Also, thanks for being a sane voice on BTR to counter Cobra's insanity! : ) ~Sherry~

Jun 12, 2011 11:45 pm
 Posted by  frankie

Thanks for another good summary Dave. It was a very interesting and educational week. I can't wait to see who will take the stand this coming week. To bad Casey isn't as good an actress when she doesn't have a speaking role.

Jun 13, 2011 04:46 am
 Posted by  Tiffany (Australia)

Thank you Dave for another interesting and balanced summation.

Jun 13, 2011 06:20 am
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi Carole -

It's a long day in the courtroom, that's for sure, but I knew it going in and I'm pretty much used to it now.

Dr.G was certainly a highlight, and she got the best of Mason. I wonder if Baez would have fared better. Nah... I don't think any attorney could ever get the best of her. She's an incredible person.

In my opinion, Judge Strickland would have been just as good as Judge Perry. The only difference is their personalities.

I think we're all waiting for the defenses shot at explaining wait happened. It should be interesting, to say the least.

Thank you, Carole, I'm trying my best to take care of myself. I'm glad you enjoy my writing.

Jun 13, 2011 06:24 am
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi Nika - I figured it was the right time to do a summary because this week should be a real doozie if the State plans on resting soon. It would be very apropos if they wrap it up on Thursday. June 16 is a huge day in this trial.

I hope you keep reading my posts! I'm looking forward to this week, too. And writing about it.

Thank you very much. I'm trying my best to stay healthy. There's a lot of work ahead. By the way...

Go Gators!

Jun 13, 2011 06:30 am
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi Anonymous (10:59) - I used to oil paint. That was years ago, but today, I try to paint in words.

I like "Zanny the Imaginanny" name. As far as I know from this morning's news, Cindy will take the stand again. I don't know if the Grunds will or not, or Roy Kronk for that matter. The defense will call him, though, I'm sure.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Thanks. I need to get ready to go to the courthouse.

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'Marinade Dave' Knechel

Dave Knechel has been blogging about the Casey Anthony case since late 2008, drawing readers from all over the world. Best known as “Marinade Dave,” a nickname he got when he made marinades and also blogged about marinade recipes, Knechel is on assignment to blog about the case exclusively for orlandomagazine.com as Anthony goes to trial for first-degree murder. His posts will appear regularly on this site.

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