ORLANDO (CBS4) – The mother of an Orlando woman accused in the murder of her own daughter broke down in tears on the witness stand as prosecutors played a 911 tape in which she reported her granddaughter missing.
Cindy Anthony leaned forward with her face in her hands and sobbed Tuesday as the 911 tape from July 2008 was played for jurors on the sixth day of testimony in the murder trial of her 25-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony. During the 911 call, Cindy Anthony said her daughter had just told her that her two-year-old granddaughter, Caylee, had been missing for 31 days.
Earlier in the day Cindy Anthony described for the jury the terrible odor coming from a car that her husband George had retrieved from a towing lot. The Pontiac had been driven by their daughter, Casey, but Cindy Anthony testified they hadn’t seen Casey nor their granddaughter, 2-year-old Caylee, for several weeks.
In a 911 call, Cindy Anthony described the odor in the car as that of a dead body.
On the stand Tuesday she said it was merely an expression she used and at that moment she didn’t think a body had been in the car.
“I said `Oh my gosh. What is wrong with the car?”said Anthony. “The smell in the car was pretty strong.”
Anthony said she opened the car’s windows and trunk in order to air it out, and George took the battery out of the car because they feared Casey would return home and try to take the vehicle.
Anthony choked back tears as she described removing Caylee’s favorite doll from the car and spraying it with Febreeze to remove the odor. She also removed Caylee’s backpack and Casey’s purse.
At the time the car was retrieved from the towing lot, Casey refused to come home for several weeks. Cindy Anthony told jurors that Casey had told her in a phone call that she needed space, and that’s why she was staying away.
Prosecutors contend the odor in the car came from human decomposition, but defense attorneys claim it was from rotting garbage.
On Saturday, Cindy Anthony described the days leading up to the young girl’s disappearance. She gave a tour of the family home, including a playhouse built for the toddler and the above-ground pool the defense team claims the girl drowned in.
She testified about the day she and Caylee went swimming on June 15, 2008, the last day she saw her granddaughter. She said she removed a ladder used to help Caylee get into the above-ground pool — something she did every time the pool wasn’t being used.
Casey Anthony, who is charged with first-degree murder in the toddler’s summer 2008 death, wiped away tears with a tissue during her mother’s testimony. Prosecutors contend Casey Anthony suffocated the girl with duct tape.
Cindy Anthony was not asked directly Saturday whether she thought the young girl drowned. Through most of her testimony, a photo of young Caylee remained on display on television monitors along the courtroom, where evidence is displayed for the jury, media and spectators. Anthony eventually interrupted her questioning, asking prosecutors to remove the photo.
“I can’t look at my granddaughter without getting upset,” she said.
Casey Anthony’s former boyfriend, Anthony Lazzaro, also testified Saturday about the hours after the Anthony’s reported Caylee’s disappearance to authorities. He described a text message exchange in which he was trying to get Casey Anthony to reveal where the toddler was.
“If they don’t find her guess who gets blamed and spends eternity in jail?” the text message read.
The manager of a towing yard where the defendant’s car was kept for more than two weeks during that summer testified that he smelled an odor coming from her car consistent with decomposing bodies he’d smelled in the past. defense argued in its opening statement that the smell was actually from a bag of trash Anthony left in her car.
Casey’s father, George Anthony, testified for the third time in four days Friday and said his mind was racing when he arrived to pick up the car and observed the smell.
“That particular smell, whenever you smell it, is something you’ll never forget,” he said. “… I don’t know if I said it out loud or whispered, but I said `Please God, don’t let this be Casey or Caylee.”‘
The defense has argued that George Anthony found Caylee drowned in the family pool and helped dispose of the body.
If convicted, Casey Anthony could face the death penalty.
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