What's "the Matter"?

    With the abrupt ending of today's jury selection in Pinellas County, speculation seemingly spiraled out of control over what caused the adjournment. Noticeably absent from the courthouse cafeteria at lunch today was Jose Baez, and he did not return to the courtroom when the session reconvened at 1:00 pm. Late this afternoon, Jose issued a statement to several media outlets:

    "Today's adjournment was due to a private matter. Please stop the speculation, as jury selection will continue at 8:30 tomorrow morning. No further statements will be made."

    Of course, we have learned we can't believe everything that comes out of this defense. Prior to that statement, first thoughts swelled around an appeal filed by the defense over Judge Perry's order denying their motion challenging the process of jury selection. That couldn't have been the reason. If the defense decided to go ahead with an appeal, they would be doing it on their own time, not the court's. In other words, the judge would not stop any court proceeding because of an appeal.
    This leaves two possible scenarios, prominent Orlando attorney Mark NeJame told me this afternoon. "It could be due to a serious personal matter. The court offered its compassion and understanding. Or there's a plea in play."
    Judge Perry is a taskmaster and he's done everything he can to move the process along at a good clip. This morning, he told the attorneys that he's tried to conduct jury selection in a fair manner by taking into consideration the rights of Casey, as well as those of the prospective jurors. Many of them have been in limbo for over a week now.
    Earlier in the day, rumors spread that Jose had fallen ill, but there was nothing to substantiate it other than the fact that fellow defense attorney Ann Finnell has been under the weather, but would the judge really postpone something this important over a case of the sniffles? No. It had to be something personal, something serious enough for Judge Perry to postpone it, or there's a plea arrangement and Jose needs time to work on it.
    If it's something serious, I hope and pray Jose's family is well. Assuming it is a plea in play, what would prompt it so suddenly?
    "This is not unusual at this late stage. As a matter of fact, this is something that arises in many cases of this nature," NeJame said. I told him about the frequent sidebars of late. "A quiet plea may have been in the works for some time now and a final one was offered. The state could have said, 'We've got 11 jurors. We'll offer you life in prison and drop the death penalty, but you've got to take it before the 12th juror is picked and they're sworn in.' Take it or leave it, in other words. After that, all deals are off the table."
    I asked him if it could be any other sort of deal. "Yes, there are lots of possibilities. The four charges of lying to law enforcement won't amount to much, but there's still aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. If the first-degree murder charge is reduced to a second-degree homicide, plus aggravated child abuse, she would still be looking at 40-50 years in prison."
    No matter what combination it might be, Casey would still go away for a very long time, and that could explain her tears as Judge Perry ended court today. Did she have a sudden "come to the Lord moment" as Mark pondered?
    We may soon find out what the drama was all about.






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Comments, page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 Next »
May 18, 2011 07:12 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I thought Jose might have rushed to talk to George and Cindy, lol. I have no clue what is going on but I got to tell you if Casey does not take a plea she is a very silly girl! If of course the state is offering her a plea. By the way I miss you! L

May 18, 2011 07:19 pm
 Posted by  Mary Jo

Dave, thanks for another great article! I agree that it had to be something of a serious nature in order for JP to shut down for a whole afternoon. I just hope this defense wouldn't be stupid enough to use JB as a reason to have the afternoon off and then Mason or one of the others files a motion to the appeals court. I wouldn't put it past this defense to do something stupid and think they can get a way with it. If they do, I wouldn't want to be in the court room when JP enters. We will probably never know what took place, but I am confident that JP wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't something serious. Thanks for keeping us up to date on this. It is appreciated!

May 18, 2011 07:26 pm
 Posted by  guardianangel

Dave, great article that makes one really utilize the old gray matter trying to figure out what inspired Baez to suddenly leave today. I am glad that you have Mark NeJame to call on for advice. I have the deepest respect for Mark as he will go out of his way to help people who need a legal opinion.

There was speculation that Baez may have been off to the appellate court. I think he has qualified people at his firm who could handle the paper work for him and have it faxed to him at the courthouse for his signature unless someone at his firm has signing power for him. Okay, I will have to shelf the idea about Baez going to the appellate court.

Now, could a plea deal be in the works? That could be a possibility and one way to get rid of the death penalty. As it stands now, no one can say with certainty that if the trial goes ahead, she will not get the lethal injection. The plea makes more sense than Baez going to the appellate court.

Judging by the text message that Baez sent to the news media, it sounded very stressful which could indicate a serious family issue or the plea deal.

Hopefully, our curosity will be satified tomorrow morning. In the meantime, Dave, this post was great! I know you probably wrote it in a hurry and that is called great journalism- swift, accurate and informative. Thank you so much!

May 18, 2011 07:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I am wholeheartedly in agreement- I think a plea is going to happen. I cannot imagine her fighting it anymore, especially as she knows the worst is yet to come. I wish I had someone to wager with ... thank you for the post, Dave. Beth in Pgh

May 18, 2011 07:37 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

hi dave... got a shock when it ended so suddenly... thanks again for keeping us up to date .. have been following jury selection and im exhausted as i have to catch up as you are a few hours ahead .. i think its a head .. its 1.35 am here in ireland now ... take care .. and will be watching your page like a hawk lol... thanks again :)) cinta

May 18, 2011 07:40 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Oh my, I still have comments to respond to on the last post. I will try to do that later or tomorrow. This story just came up so suddenly.

May 18, 2011 08:15 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi L - I don't think George and Cindy have the welcome mat out for Jose these days. They probably see buses coming to run over them.

Hey, I miss you, too.

May 18, 2011 08:19 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi Mary Jo - Thank you. I would hope the defense is smart enough to stay far, far away from trying to fool JP. That would be a dumb, dumb move.

Who knows? Maybe we'll find out tomorrow. Or maybe we won't. If it's nothing more than a personal matter, we might not ever know.

May 18, 2011 08:53 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

I must say that's a mighty fine comment as well, GuardianAngel. I wondered about the appeal, too, but after Mark explained how the judge wouldn't have given the defense time off to file it, I threw that notion away. Absolutely, it's a genuine asset to have someone of Mark's character to help explain the law. He's a consummate gentleman.

As for finding out tomorrow, we may never know if it turns out to be something personal. He knows a lot of people out there hate him and that's enough for him to keep his mouth shut about it.

Thank you for such a fine compliment. What's that old saying? When the going gets tough, the tough get going?

May 18, 2011 09:26 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

Hi Beth - You know, the defense is sticking to the privacy thing - that it's no big deal. Hopefully, we will know more tomorrow, but if nothing surfaces right away, there will be no plea in play.

Great to hear from you!

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'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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