The Defense Wrests
Jose Baez, Casey Anthony's lead defense attorney, offered up some very odd theories in his opening statement on May 24. Now, everyone is waiting, with great anticipation, to hear the evidence that has eluded us since that day. The strange accusations about a meter reader, sexual molestations and George finding Caylee's body in the backyard pool threw the trial out of whack and it took the State by complete surprise. While prosecutors quickly rebounded, it's the defense running the show now, and it grows more convoluted with each passing day. Exactly how this will unfold remains to be seen, but that's the defense story and they're sticking to it. Trust me, I'm just as curious and impatient as the rest of you, but first, some basics.
Generally, in criminal trials, the burden of proof regarding guilt rests squarely on the prosecution. However, this is a highly unusual case, and the defense has chosen to take it upon themselves to shift some of that burden their way. Why? The answer should become clear, but we may have to wait a few more days before finding out.
After opening statements, the prosecution offered up a strong case against Casey. It was well-choreographed and explained in an easy-to-understand chronological fashion. Of course, the technical/scientific evidence wasn't all that easy to comprehend, but it was balanced enough because it fit in the overall scheme. There was a rhythm to the way the story unfolded. Obviously, the prosecuting attorneys were quite aware of how quickly a jury can be lost, so they knew when to rest their case. That left many people perplexed at the time. Was that it? The end? What about cell phone pings and that bang-up fight between Cindy and Casey the night before Caylee disappeared, to name just two?
Simply put, this trial isn't going anywhere fast. The State realized from the start that much of the evidence would be addressed later on by the defense. Baez would be placing witnesses on the stand, new and old, and this would afford them the opportunity to cross examine and fill in many gaps. Also, after the defense rests, they will be given rebuttal time to pick over everything the defense looked into. Personally, I don't know how much more the prosecution will need to offer because Jose & Co. seem to be doing a lot of the work for them, including areas that may not have been on their radar. The Gatorade bottle is a good example. The defense made it relevant -- not the state. It was not an issue.
Whatever the defense is up to, it seems to have no clear sense of direction. Their own expert witnesses have proffered information that's actually benefited the State. Is it from ineptitude or a lack of unity? Are the questions that poorly thought out? Whatever it is, it's a surefire way to lose a jury's attention. Cheney Mason has been a criminal defense attorney for a long time, yet he seems to be doing nothing to help his partner. Clearly, the strategy is imbalanced and it lacks the kind of rhythm the State offered. Baez flits from witness to witness like a bird with clipped wings. Oh, he has his good moments, but there aren't enough of them to keep a flow going. An example of this would be his questioning of Yuri Melich on cross examination, early on in the trial. Did he forget to ask a question then about whether any chloroform ingredients were found in the Anthony home when it was searched? Did this idea pop into his head as an afterthought? It sure seemed that way to me.
Here's the deal. Either the defense is that bad or they are purposely botching the case in hopes of a retrial down the road for incompetency. Are they trying to throw Judge Perry out of kilter in order to force a mistrial, or they are doing their best to make him look inept, which is not going to happen. One thing is certain – they are provoking Judge Perry by blatantly ignoring his court orders. Is it by design?
Any attorney with Mason's experience knows how to get under a judge's skin. Mason and Baez have little hope of winning this case, but if they can get Judge Perry to lose it
, then they may get another shot at defending Casey.
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