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A Mixed Bag

Trash Talk

    Gerardo Bloise took center stage once again Tuesday morning. Bloise, if you recall, collected evidence from Casey Anthony's white Pontiac Sunfire, including a white bag of trash removed from the trunk of the vehicle. Part of the job description of the CSI Level 2 investigator is to sift through some of the worst stuff, like someone else's garbage, after it has sat in a steamy Florida trunk in July. It's hot enough to bake a pizza!
    After he set the garbage aside, he noticed that it no longer imparted the horrible odor of human decay and it took on a much more palatable aroma of baked rubbish, so what that proved to him was that wherever the smell came from, it wasn't from the contents of that bag. As he examined bit after bit of goo and muck, he photographed every morsel of it for the jury's viewing pleasure. And ours. Eventually, to preserve the goods, he placed the wet stuff in a dryer. All-in-all, there were 37 items in that bag and all of it was accounted for.
    On cross examination, Jose Baez told him, “You know, that wet trash was wet until you put it in the dryer.”
    While some might think of that as a mundane statement, it did get better. He showed his lawyer side by telling the witness that by drying some of the contents, the evidence was altered. Poor Bloise may have destroyed DNA in the process.
    Linda Drane Burdick wasn't buying it. When she asked the investigator why he dries things, he responded with, “The purpose of drying is to preserve evidence. Wet items can very easily become moldy.”
    I think it's clear who made more sense in that exchange.

The Good Old Can Switching Trick

    Arpad Vass gave an encore performance. He was a big hit on Monday because he seemed to bond with the jury. It was quite apparent he knew how to connect with people because it's his very nature to be that way. What happened on Monday was that Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton mixed up a couple of cans of evidence and he gave the wrong one to Vass. Upon examination, Vass agreed it was the right one, only it wasn't. Ashton switched cans and the right one was put into the record, but on cross, Baez took complete advantage of the error. He accused Vass of failing to examine the evidence properly. Although no harm was done and the mistake was corrected, I would expect to hear about this when the defense presents its side, and certainly, during closing arguments. If the state and Vass are capable of mixing things up, how much more is wrong? “If it's wrong evidence you submit, you must acquit.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation

    Michael Rickenbach is a forensic chemist at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, with over 15 years of experience. He received several pieces of evidence for examination, along with a request from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to find chloroform. This is the area where we learned about many of those “Q” pieces, such as Q-23, Q-24, Q-44 and so on. The evidence that came in cans did smell of decomposition, but that wasn't the focus of the tests. They were to detect chloroform. Of course, he did testify that it was there, but Baez got him to admit it was only in trace amounts in most of the items. Rickenbach explained that the reason for that: Chloroform, as a volatile substance, degrades over time and the shipping containers were not sealed.
    In his cross examination, Baez asked about qualitative and quantitative testing; the former meaning to find out whether the chloroform exists, and the latter meaning the amount of chloroform found. In this case, the chloroform was only found in trace amounts, and in some of the tests, carpet samples were cut in different sizes and that produced different results. Baez concluded that the methods of testing were not only incorrect, they were inappropriate for a scientist. Although there may be some validity to some of his statements because chloroform can be found in small amounts in a lot of things, the bottom line is still the matter of chloroform and it's as if it were splashed everywhere. I think it's abundantly clear the prosecution is convinced that Caylee was suffocated with chloroform. After the past two weeks of testimony, jurors must be tossing that idea around in they heads, too.

A Dog Day Afternoon

    Sheriff’s deputy Jason R. Forgey is a K-9 handler with 10 years of experience. He spent a great deal of time on the stand explaining everything about training dogs and what he's experienced. What I found most interesting was that dogs are either multiple or single purpose. By this, he explained, multiple purpose dogs can search for cadavers or drugs or explosives, while single purpose dogs specialize in one of those fields. After training, the handler will put a collar on a multipurpose dog that represents what the search will be for. In other words, one collar design will signal cadaver while another may mean explosives.
    We spent hours Tuesday listening to Linda Drane Burdick address issues over training and experience. Forgey responded with every piece of literature that makes up his resume and that of his dog, or dogs, over a period of time. While his responses were quite lengthy, they were interesting and educational. Why was it necessary to spend so much time with the dog handler, going over training records and positive hits? Because the state wanted to show the jury how dedicated and thorough the K-9 team was. The prosecution expected a tough cross-examination from the defense, but in the end, it never came.
    Deputy Forgey and his dog, Gerus, went to the OCSO Operations Center on July 17, 2008, to examine Casey's car. The next day, they searched George and Cindy Anthony’s back yard. Gerus did alert the handler to the vehicle trunk and a spot in the yard. When Baez crossed, he asked the deputy why his sweeps weren't videotaped. Because it isn’t required, he was told. Why didn't the dog alert you to the garbage? The dog doesn't hit on garbage, Forgery responded. In the end, there wasn't much substance in what Baez was trying to get across. All that time spent educating the jury probably paid off because Baez walked away frustrated. “You don't really know if Caylee was in the back yard or not, do you?” Baez asked, trying desperately to discredit Forgey’s search.
    Forgey admitted he didn'’t, but what did that prove? Only that Baez was no match in this dog fight.

 

 


    

 

 

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Jun 8, 2011 06:16 am
 Posted by  Peggy

Thanks Dave for making yesterday more clear. I was a bit worried when Jose made a couple of points but now I understand it a lot better. You wrote another amazing article and I am so glad that you are in the court room to be our ears and eyes. I felt bad for Dr. Vass when Jose was badgering him on his very honest mistake. To bad Dr. Vass could not come back with all the mistakes Jose has made since almost day of of the Case against Casey. With so many noses that smelled decomposition, I think we are at seven now, I think that we can say with all honesty that Caylee was in the trunk of Casey's car when she was driving it. They have not even gotten to the pings on Casey's phone yet. There is a lot more evidence that the State has to bring in and I think once they have the jury has to see that yes Caylee was murdered by her mother.

Jun 8, 2011 07:52 am
 Posted by  Mary Jo

Great article, Dave! I thought Gerardo Bloise did a great job on the stand. He was able to hold his own when Baez kept trying to say that he altered it by putting into the dryer and then the plastic bag. I would think the jury doesn't like it when Baez badgers the witnesses. Jeff Ashton really knows his science stuff and you can tell by the way he questions the witnesses. I think you are right about the state thinking that Caylee was suffocated with the chloroform. Deputy Forgey did a good job on the witness stand also. I am glad that LDB went through all the training of the dogs and such so the jury can get a better understanding of that, plus they will now know that when Baez tries to discredit them that it won't work. I find all of this stuff interesting becauase I never knew all of the stuff that they do when they get certain evidence. It has been a learning experience for me. I thank you for your articles and for being our eyes and ears in the courtroom.

Jun 8, 2011 08:28 am
 Posted by  KarenC

Jose's crosses often seem to undermine his own arguments, and he does come off as hectoring at times. Given the choice of whom to believe, him or the dogs, well....

Jun 8, 2011 08:35 am
 Posted by  frankie

Dave, Thanks for another summary from the court room. I don't think Jose did his homework about the dog's ability and strength when it comes to smelling. There are dogs that can sniff out tiny bits of a cancer cell sealed in glass test tubes. There is one dog that can smell pre cancer on a persons body. I would not be surprised if the dogs could pick out the smell of decom. from the correct sealed can. If that was demonstrated for the jurors it would make all of Jose's questions just a waste of time and score one for the prosecution.
I thought I had read that Cindy took some items out of Casey's trunk and hosed them off in the back yard. If that is true, I wonder if any of the decomposition could have been transferred and that is what the dogs hit on? With a dogs sense of smell it wouldn't take much.

Jun 8, 2011 08:50 am
 Posted by  Carole

Dave,
Another great article.

Have you gotten any bad, or irritating vibes between Baez and Mason? I just can't understand how Mason can sit there and let Baez fumble and strain while cros examining the witnesses.

Is the jury paying any attention to Casey? It is almost beyond comprehension that she can sit there listening to all of this testimony about her dead daughter and still maintain that flat unconnected look she has on her face.

During testimony of a witness it appears, from watching on tv, that the defense team does a lot of walking back and forth behind their table. Can you tell from your perspective if this causes any kind of a distraction to the witness on the stand or to any others?

Thanks for all of your insights into this trial. I am also amazed that local tv channels are covering the trial "gavel to gave".

Jun 8, 2011 09:15 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Awesome Article Dave!

You are more than the eyes and ears in the court... you are a brain in a bottle! Your synapses spark with every word you write. Look forward to the day you write your 6K page book... title suggestions? ''Death and the Party Girl'' ''Where is Caylee?'' (nod to Linda Drane-Burdict) ''Tot Mom - Case #...''

Sara Jane - IN Parent

Jun 8, 2011 11:39 am
 Posted by  Carole

Dave,
Another great article.

Have you gotten any bad, or irritating vibes between Baez and Mason? I just can't understand how Mason can sit there and let Baez fumble and strain while cros examining the witnesses.

Is the jury paying any attention to Casey? It is almost beyond comprehension that she can sit there listening to all of this testimony about her dead daughter and still maintain that flat unconnected look she has on her face.

During testimony of a witness it appears, from watching on tv, that the defense team does a lot of walking back and forth behind their table. Can you tell from your perspective if this causes any kind of a distraction to the witness on the stand or to any others?

Thanks for all of your insights into this trial. I am also amazed that local tv channels are covering the trial "gavel to gave".

Jun 8, 2011 02:23 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Ok, I realize that this might be a stretch but…
The searches on Casey’s computer for chloroform began on March 17th, which is St. Patrick’s Day and one of the biggest party days of the year. Do you think it started when Caylee kept Casey from her allotment of green beer?

Kat
from Monroe Co.

Jun 8, 2011 06:07 pm
 Posted by  Uwho

I had to chuckle when noticing how you separated topics. Very clever and it worked. Love the "A Dog Day Afternoon". While I appreciated the humor in "If its wrong evidence you submit, you must acquit" I doubt if the defense will ever be able to use it. The mix up was not by Dr. Vass and imo did not lesson his testimony.
Looking forward to your next postl.

Jun 8, 2011 07:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great post, Dave! Informative and easy to understand for a layperson like myself. Keep up the good work. S

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About This Blog

'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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