What's Next? Hauling A Load of Kronk?
Forensic entomologist Dr. Tim Huntington was called to the stand last week. Of most interest was his testimony that he had received a phone call from Linda Kenney Baden, then a defense attorney hired by Casey, on December 11, 2008 to let him know that the unidentified remains of a child were found near the Anthony home. Suddenly, the date of the call became a mystery. Why would the defense team contact a potential expert witness without knowing the identity of the remains? Did Jose Baez know all along where the body Caylee was located? Although this has piqued the interest of many, the answer is most likely no. A good defense anticipates trouble down the road.
To be honest, as soon as I heard the news about the discovery two weeks before Christmas, I knew who it was. We all did. In criminal cases, defense attorneys contact experts ASAP to stop the State from collecting the cream of the crop. Dr. Timothy Huntington is a protégé of Dr. Neal Haskell. Haskell went to the State and Huntington went to the defense. While Huntington came credentialed, he was no match for Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who got the doctor to admit that the body had been moved a mere two or three days earlier, which is exactly what the State had been saying all along. "The absence of early bugs says that the body was moved from another location," Huntington said. From the trunk of Casey's car, perchance? Clearly, Huntington was chewed up and spit out by Ashton, but that was nothing compared to what Ashton did to Dr. Werner Spitz.
Ashton was in vintage form as he questioned Spitz, the world renowned forensic pathologist. Watching Ashton decimate him on the stand was a sad ending to an illustrious career. In record time, Spitz was sputtering. As many times as he's testified at trial, I don't think he's ever worked a trial like this - when The Ashton Express was rolling down the tracks.
On Monday, we pick up where Saturday began - with testimony from Dr. William Rodriguez, a forensic anthropologist and co-founder of the Body Farm, along with Dr. William Bass. Rodriguez's observations from years ago showed that blowflies are attracted to a body within minutes of death. His work published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 1982, and went on to become one of the most cited articles in the field forensic entomology. Baez questioned Rodriguez about issues never revealed to the State and that prompted a stern warning from the judge. A contempt of court proceeding against him after the trial ends is a real possibility. Judge Perry cut the doctor's testimony short because Jose Baez did not comply with an Order from the Court dated January 6, 2011. The judge had made it quite clear early on that he would not tolerate a trial by ambush. It's a complete list of people who will be permitted to testify, and it includes other discovery, as well, which enables both parties to know what evidence will (or may) be presented. This way, one side doesn't learn of the other side's evidence with no time to build a response.
Until then, I expect the defense to turn away from forensics and move closer to the realm of tabloid fodder. Of course, there are many others that could enter the fray after the State's rebuttal, which could include experts in other fields, like botany and records of cell phone pings. If the State presents more evidence and experts, the defense will respond in kind, and the trial may drag on another month, but I don't think so. A good prosecution knows how and when to stop. Cut to the chase.
If we stay on course, expect the defense to call Roy Kronk, who found Caylee, to the stand this week. Kronk found the remains in August 2008, but I found a discrepancy in what he said. Originally, he had spotted a suspicious bag in the woods off Suburban Drive when he stopped there in August 2008. On December 11 2008, Kronk said he found the skull after entering the wood line to relieve himself. There it was, in plain sight-- sticking up from a black plastic bag. He proceeded to walk toward the skull and when he got close, he stuck his meter reader stick in one of the eye sockets and out it rolled.
I don't suspect Kronk of any wrongdoing, and neither do the police, but there's a problem with his story and the photographs the State showed us in court that were taken from the scene prior to moving anything. He said he lifted the skull, yet it was buried in dirt up to the top of the eye sockets when investigators took images of the scene. It was not inside a black plastic bag. That bag and other evidence were nearby. This is why the defense is going after him, I'm sure. What will they yield? I don't know, but I'm sure George will be next. He's accused of sexually molesting Casey when she was young. Proving that will be next to impossible, but putting Caylee's body into the arms of Kronk is doomed to go the route of a runaway freight train barreling down the tracks. But that's nothing new. This defense knows all about railroading.
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