The End Is Near . . . For Whom?
Finally, the Casey Anthony trial is near an end. Today, the defense is expected to rest its case, a moment that should elicit a collective sigh of relief out of everyone who has been following the proceedings. I feel as if I’ve been watching a train wreck in slow-mo over the last week, knowing full well that I should turn my head to avoid seeing the carnage. But like everyone else I couldn’t take my eyes off witness stand.
I don't think it's necessary to do a play-by-play of the case, or explain how Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton shredded some of the defense’s key expert witnesses. No, this post is about some particular events that could influence the outcome of the trial, and I'll start with Cindy Anthony.
When Cindy took the stand and said that she Googled chloroform on the family desktop in March of 2008, she undercut the State's theory that it was Casey who researched it, made it, and murdered her daughter with it. However, the State likely will present rebuttal witnesses from Gentiva, where Cindy was employed as a nurse, who will testify that she worked those days and couldn't have been anywhere else. In the end, the jury will see through Cindy’s attempt to take a bullet for Casey.
Dominic Casey is a private investigator who originally worked for Baez. He later worked for George and Cindy. In November 2008 he and another investigator searched the woods on Suburban Drive, looking for Caylee’s body. Who sent them there? Dominic said it was a psychic. On direct examination of Cindy, Baez asked her if she sent the private investigators to the woods. She said no, adding she had no knowledge of the search.
Then Baez called Lee Anthony to the stand, and he told a different story. He testified that his mother had sent the private investigators to look for Caylee’s body, a decision that led to an argument. Lee said he was very angry with his mother because the search she ordered was the first time anyone in the Anthony family acknowledged that Caylee might be dead. His testimony contradicted his mother’s, fueling suspicions that Cindy has repeatedly lied on the stand.
What makes Lee so believable is that he's got nothing to lose by telling the truth. Why would he lie to make his mother look like bad? In making Cindy out to be a liar, Baez had just unwittingly undermined her credibility as his chloroform-searching scapegoat. After all is said and done, the jury will view Cindy as untrustworthy, meaning she did more to harm her daughter’s defense than help it.
Throughout this trial, the only Anthony family member who still has his credibility intact is George. Lee was a credible witness, but he came off as just plain weird at times. What guy cries over being left out of his sister's baby shower?
When George last took the stand Wednesday, Baez did his best to break him down. He accused George of molesting his daughter since she was a child. No one in the courtroom was buying it, including the jury. As a matter of fact, they seemed to have a little empathy for him. When Baez badgered him about the odor in Casey's car and questioned whether he really knew what caused it, the former cop in George came out : “HOW DARE YOU TRY TO TELL ME IT'S SOMETHING ELSE!. I KNOW WHAT I SMELLED THAT DAY!”
With those two sentences, George emphatically declared that Casey had carried a decomposing body in her car. Baez had gift wrapped a defense witness and handed it to the State as a present. Time and again he has helped the State make its case against Casey. As the questioning continued, jurors seemed glued to George. Were they feeling sympathy for him? He appeared to be a broken man at times, but he was fighting back as Baez hurled one tawdry insinuation at him after another.
Baez brought up George's suicide attempt. He picked up a copy of the lengthy suicide note George wrote, holding it up for the jury to see. Baez implied that George was driven to attempt suicide out of guilt. And to hear Baez tell it, George had every reason to have a guilty conscience. He had molested his daughter and was involved in Caylee’s death, or at least in covering it up after she drowned in the family pool. He had had an affair while he was supposed to be a distraught grandfather searching for Caylee. He is a shady character who lies to protect himself while his daughter faces the death penalty. He cries on the stand for no one but himself.
That’s the picture Baez tried to paint of George, but I think the jury saw a much different portrait emerge in the courtroom.
George’s grief over the disappearance and death of Caylee was genuine. He couldn’t deal with the loss, and suicide would be a way to end the pain while bringing him closer to Caylee. When his testimony ended, George walked back to his seat wearing his emotions on his face. Still, he held his head high, glaring in anger at his daughter. I wondered at that moment if he had an epiphany, that “Oh, my God!” moment in which he realized his little girl is really the monster she is accused of being.
And Casey? Just like any other day in court, her stare was as cold and distant as the dark side of the moon. Her blank expression was not lost on anyone in the courtroom, least of all the jury.
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