Pets, Lies and Duct Tape
In his opening statement, Jose Baez guaranteed that the jury would come to believe that George Anthony had sexually molested Casey when she was young, that he found Caylee’s body floating in the backyard pool, and he alone applied duct tape to her face. Somehow, someway, he would explain how meter reader Roy Kronk disposed of the child’s body so he could later “discover” it and collect a reward. But as the defense wrapped up its case Thursday it was clear that Baez had failed to deliver the goods. His strategy created a lot of smoke but yielded little substance.
If anything, the sleaziness of the defense team may have done just as much to seal its client’s fate as the State’s methodically laid-out case. There were times I felt Casey would get a lesser sentence than death if she’s convicted, but now I’m not so sure. The jury and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. may be in no mood for leniency after watching Baez and company toss mud with impunity. But Casey may have saved herself from the executioner by declining to testify. Had she taken the stand, oh, boy, that would have been great theater. The lies she could have told. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton must have been disappointed with losing his chance to go one-on-one with her.
The defense’s final day became a good synopsis of the general feel of what transpired during most of the trial. There were a few peaks, like Kronk’s changing testimony of what happened when he found the toddler’s remains, but it was mostly made up of valleys, and some were deep.
On Thursday, Baez once again hammered home the importance of the Henkel brand duct tape by publishing a brief video showing its use at a command center during the search for Caylee. George was the co-star in the video, but it proved nothing. What struck me as very odd was the way Baez segued into the burials of deceased family pets and alleged that duct tape was used in them. The defense hoped it would spell his doom. While Baez mentioned numerous deceased pets the Anthonys had buried over the years, neither George nor Cindy acknowledged a particular means for their disposal. They could only recall wrapping a dead pet in a blanket or towel, sometimes with a stuffed play toy, and placing the animal’s body in a plastic bag and sealing it with clear plastic packaging tape. Sometimes, they buried their deceased pets in the back yard.
But when Lee was questioned about the family pet Cinnamon, he recalled it being buried in a plastic bag sealed with duct tape.
So where was Baez going with this dead-pet line of questioning? Here’s my take: If George and Cindy taught Casey to lie, then they also taught her what to do with dead bodies, right? But such reasoning implicates Casey, too, only Caylee wasn’t buried, as Ashton so aptly pointed when he said: “MR. ANTHONY, DID YOU EVER TAKE A DEAD PET AND THROW IT IN A SWAMP?” Ashton’s sarcastic inquiry had to have hit home with the jury.
Linda Drane Burdick also mocked the defense’s “pet” theory (sorry, I couldn’t resist) when she asked Cindy, under cross examination, if she ever put a pet to sleep with chloroform. Baez objected and the question was withdrawn. But Drane Burdick came back with “DID YOU EVER PUT DUCT TAPE OVER ANY OF YOUR PETS’ MOUTHS?” No, Cindy replied.
That explains the duct tape theory, lame as it was, but what about Krystal Holloway, aka, River Cruz? She met George at one of the command center tents, where she went every day to help and “console” him. She said their friendship was intimate but he said it wasn’t. She testified that George told her Caylee’s death “was an accident that snowballed out of control,” but he denied saying that.
On cross examination, Ashton challenged her credibility, getting her to admit that she had originally denied having an affair with George, only to spill juicy details of their relationship to the National Enquirer, for $4,000. But she stuck to her claim that George said: “I believe it was really an accident and it went wrong and she tried to cover it up.”
Whatever George said, if anything, it did not implicate him in the murder of his granddaughter, though if any of it’s true it would suggest he knew Caylee was dead long before her remains were found. But was Holloway a believable witness? Yes and no, I thought.
Her account of the affair seemed to have more than a hint of truth to it. George was depressed and she comforted him, as he did her when she told him she was ill with cancer. They were alone at her place at times, two people sharing their pain, and one thing led to another. Such an occurrence wouldn’t be a stretch of anyone’s imagination. But she also came across as an opportunist, someone who sought out the limelight and a quick payday by inserting herself into the Anthony family drama. Plus there’s that pseudonym of hers. That alone is reason enough to view her with suspicion.
We got another day of garbage strewn about in the courtroom Thursday, leaving everyone feeling dirty and in need of a good hot shower. But George couldn’t wait to cleanse himself of the slime sticking to him as he left the stand for good. As he walked by the prosecution’s table, he brushed his hands together. He had washed his hands of the whole mess, leaving Casey on her own.
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