Double, Double Toil and Trouble

    Casey Anthony’s murder trial began last Tuesday, May 24. We’ve waited almost three long years for the day to come, and during that period, most of the public vilified George and Cindy, her parents, for defending her. The stench of human decomposition in the trunk of Casey’s car became the unpleasant smell of rotting pizza, and they continued, day-after-day, to proclaim her innocence while boxing themselves into a corner. Until last week. While George and Cindy made excuse-after-excuse for their daughter’s odd behavior, most of us thought otherwise. We didn’t bury our heads in the sand or cover our ears, as compelling evidence flowed forth from the State Attorney’s Office. Bit-by-bit and piece-after-piece of discovery painted a horrible portrait of Casey, all of which they refused to acknowledge. Something important took place last week. In one fell swoop, public rage against them was over. What happened? What did they do?
    In his opening statement, Jose Baez, Casey’s lead attorney, accused George of complicity in the death of his precious granddaughter Caylee. Baez conceded that she did, in fact, die on June 16, 2008, as the state had claimed all along. However, it was not the way anyone thought – that George watched his daughter and grandchild drive off in the early afternoon of that date. Baez accused him of plucking a drowned Caylee out of the family’s above-ground swimming pool, screaming to Casey, “Look what you’ve done! Your mother will never forgive you.” He angrily warned her she’d go to jail for the rest of her life for child neglect.
    To add insult to injury, Casey, through her attorney, claimed her brother Lee had sexually molested her when she was young, but to make matters worse, she implicated her father of the same thing, only worse. George was accused of molesting Casey, forcing her to perform oral sex on him before going to school. The courtroom gallery was aghast at the revelation. The jury stared intently. George and Cindy sat stoically in the back row, never making a sound.
    George came first in a litany of state witnesses that took the stand on the first day. Under oath, he denied everything. With that counter to Casey’s claim against him, the state presented witness-after-witness in a shedule that matched the time-line of events, beginning on June 15, the day before Caylee died.
    Most of the witnesses were Casey’s former friends, and they testified about her lack of concern in the days following Caylee’s disappearance. They said Casey was very happy, as if nothing happened. Her daughter was with the nanny or Cindy whenever asked. She was everywhere except where she should have been – with her mother. While she told lie-after-lie, things were festering at home. Cindy was desperate to find Caylee, who she had seen every day since her birth on August 9, 2005. June 15, 2008 was the last day she saw her alive, and she sensed that something was wrong. The rest, we can say, is history.
    George and Cindy have a very capable attorney in Mark Lippman. He is a caring man and quite smart. He fought the defense over their right to remain in the courtroom throughout the trial, contrary to what the defense wanted. He won, but not before Cheney Mason filed a rebuttal stating that they would likely be “subject to impeachment by the testimony of other witnesses.”
    They were beginning to see the light.
    George was impeached, but not by any witnesses. Not yet. Casey’s lead attorney did it all by himself. As we watched the trial unfold, we saw George come and go on the witness stand, along with Anthony Lazzaro, Casey’s last boyfriend. He admitted breaking into one of the Anthonys’ backyard sheds to retrieve gas cans George uses to house various garden tools, like the lawn mower. George is meticulous about keeping his yard well manicured. I understand that. When my father owned a front-end alignment business, I used to borrow his tools to work on my cars over the years. It would be a bad day for me if I didn’t return his tools exactly as I found them – clean and in the proper location. No, I didn’t want to feel his wrath. George is the same way, with one exception: he enabled his daughter. Whenever she took his gas cans, he would tell her to leave them alone; that he’d be happy to give her $10.00 instead, but time and time again, she ignored him because no punishment came. On June 24, 2008, it changed. George had had enough. He called 911.Within minutes of an OCSO deputy filling out a report and leaving, Casey pulled into the driveway. After he asked her, she handed back his precious cans, yelling an obscenity. For some strange reason, she didn’t want him near the trunk of her car, and within weeks, he’d find out why.
    Simon Birch was the manager of Johnson’s Towing. He testified last week. On June 30, 2008, Casey’s car was towed from an Amscot parking lot, days after Casey, once again, ran out of gas. When her Pontiac Sunfire was brought back to the tow yard, he noticed the unique and distinctive odor of human decomposition emanating from the car. He’d experienced it several times before. After George and Cindy were notified of the car’s location, they went to retrieve it. Both were upset it would cost $500 to get it out of impound, but they had no choice. It was worth more than that, but Casey was up to her usual tricks. She had no respect for anyone but herself. As George and Simon walked toward the vehicle, the odor became more pronounced. After sitting inside and trying to start it, George decided to open the trunk. “God,” he mumbled, “please don’t let this be Casey or Caylee.” He knew what the smell was. And because of Casey’s constant lack of responsibility, he brought a gas can, just in case.
    When George was cross-examined on the stand, Jose Baez asked him why he would call 911 over missing gas cans, but not after he smelled human decomposition in his own daughter’s car. After all, as a former Trumball County (Ohio) deputy/detective, he knew the scent of human decay. Why didn’t he call 911 then? It became a puzzling moment. After all, he hadn’t seen Caylee in a month, and the last day he saw Casey was three weeks earlier.
    There’s a family dynamic involved here. While becoming an important question, there’s a plausible explanation, I’m sure. George found no satisfaction in calling 911 over his broken shed door and lost gas cans, but he was sick of his daughter’s disrespect. No more! While explaining why he did it the first time, he didn’t have a response to the second one when asked. The defense boxed him into the corner.
    Had George been given the opportunity to regroup, he might have told Baez that his wife had been in contact with Casey all along. Caylee was fine and there was no reason to think otherwise. Why call 911? Of course, later that night, their world would come tumbling down, yet, until last week, they continued to put faith in Casey. Accusations forced them to pull their heads out of the sand. They had one hideous wake-up call, and so did Casey.
    The odds are infinitesimal that one family member would sexually abuse a sibling. The odds are even less that a parent would be accused of the same thing. But while we’re at it, consider the odds that grandparents would lose a grandchild and a daughter. Last week, George and Cindy lost their daughter, and in doing so, they virtually wiped their slate clean in the minds of the public. Unfortunately, they will never be completely free of Casey’s spell, but Baez’s horrible accusations helped tremendously. They’d had enough, and with that, Casey lost her best hope. Double, double, toil and trouble, Casey burst the cauldron bubble!






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