ORLANDO (CBS4) – One day after asking the judge to declare a mistrial, attorneys for Casey Anthony continued their defense as the trial entered its 30th day.
The 25-year old Orlando woman is accused of killing her daughter Caylee in 2008.
The first witness called Tuesday morning was a former team leader of Texas Equusearch volunteers who searched for Caylee Anthony. Three members of Anthony’s family briefly took the stand to testify about events surrounding the search. Casey’s father George denied having a romantic relationship with a woman who helped in the search for Caylee.
The defense then called Roy Kronk, the Orange County meter reader who discovered Caylee’s remains in a wooded area near the Anthony family home.
Anthony’s attorneys began questioning Kronk about an August 2008 visit to the same area when he thought he saw something suspicious in the woods. Kronk had called authorities three times over the next three days but they found nothing at the time.
“I saw an object that looked a little odd to me,” Kronk testified Tuesday. “I told them I saw an object that looked like a skull.”
Kronk returned to the area in December 2008 and discovered the bag containing Caylee’s remains.
In a continued effort to cast doubt on the forensic evidence in the case the defense suggested that Kronk tampered with the 2-year-olds remains, and might have moved them in hopes of claiming a cash award for finding her.
Kronk testified that he had not touched the bag containing the Caylee’s remains. “I never was closer than 30 feet to that bag.”
Prosecutors have argued that Anthony placed duct tape over Caylee Anthony’s mouth, suffocating the toddler in summer 2008. Much of the forensic evidence produced at the trial has been about what the body revealed.
Defense attorneys claim Caylee Anthony accidentally drowned in the family’s swimming pool and that Anthony and her father, George, covered it up. George Anthony has denied any such theory.
In their motion to dismiss, the defense said the new jurors should not be asked before being selected whether they would be qualified to consider the death penalty. Attorneys sought the motion based on a federal judge’s ruling in Miami last week. It declared Florida’s death penalty unconstitutional because jurors are not required to say what aggravating factor or factors led them to recommend death.
Although judges are required to explain why they impose death sentences; they are not required to follow jury recommendations however, they must give them great weight.
The ruling does not automatically void Florida’s death penalty law. Anthony’s attorneys have asked for a hearing on the motion but it had not been scheduled as of Monday evening.
The first witness to testify Monday was Detective Yuri Melich of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Under questioning from Anthony’s attorney, he conceded that he had never examined George Anthony’s cell phone records and that a cadaver dog never sniffed out cars driven by George Anthony and his wife, Cindy.
Melich also said he had mixed up the dates he gave the jury for when he took the deposition of the meter reader who found the girl’s body. Melich also said he never asked for Roy Kronk’s cell phone records or confiscated his computer. Melich said it was not intentional but he had the dates mixed up.
Jurors were given pieces of trash from Casey Anthony’s car to sniff. Prosecutors have presented a witness who said air samples from the car’s trunk smelled of a decomposing body. Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Arpad Vass testified about the air samples using a new technique he has developed and the defense tried to discount.
Defense lawyers say the foul smell came from garbage left in the trunk.
Kenneth Furton, a chemistry professor at the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University and an expert on chemicals and human decomposition, told jurors Monday that the same chemicals found in human remains were also in the car trash.
He said fatty acids in Velveeta cheese and salami, both found in the trunk, are identical to the compounds found when a human body decomposes. He also said that chloroform can be found at very high levels in common household cleaners like bleach.
When a prosecutor asked if the chemicals in the trunk could have been caused by anything besides a decomposing body, Furton answered that a similar chemical finding could come from a combination of trash, gasoline and household cleaners.
Defense attorneys also questioned two private investigators who did volunteer work for Casey Anthony’s parents.
In November 2008, James Hoover videotaped Dominic Casey searching an area near where Caylee’s remains were found about a month later. Casey testified that he had received a tip from a psychic that Caylee’s remains were there in the woods near the home she shared with her mother and grandparents.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.
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