Casey Anthony Trial | Day 2 – Daily Updates (Thoughts & Observations)
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Day 2 – May 25, 2011 – Wednesday
The Prosecution’s List of Witnesses for May 25, 2011
- First Prosecution Witness: Cameron Campana, mid-20s – Tonay Lazzaro’s roommate.
- Second Prosecution Witness: Nathan Lezniewicz, mid-20s – A friend of both Tony and Cameron who was allowed to sleep on the couch of their apartment.
- Third Prosecution Witness: Roy (Clint) House, 25 – Another friend who was allowed to stay at the apartment, sleeping on the floor.
- Fourth Prosecution Witness: Maria Kissh, 26 – Clint House’s girlfriend.
- Fifth Prosecution Witness: Brian Burner – The Anthony’s (Casey’s) next-door neighbor.
- Sixth Prosecution Witness: Jamie Realander, 22 – Shot girl at Fusion Nightclub.
- Seventh Prosecution Witness: Erica Gonzalez, 22 – Shot girl at Fusion Nightclub.
- Eighth Prosecution Witness: Anthony Lazzaro, 24 – Casey’s ex-boyfriend during those critical 31 days Caylee was missing.
The Prosecution’s Witnesses:
Roommates, Shot Girls & The Neighbor
The shock and awe of yesterday’s opening statements and jaw-dropping allegations, gave way to the everyday tediousness of conducting a trial, as the Prosecution called eight witnesses today. The number of objections and sidebars seemed endless, but the Judge’s patience was not, as he appeared noticeably annoyed and upset with the attorneys a number of times.
The focus of today’s witnesses seemed to be on the people who saw Casey most during those 31 days Caylee was missing. They all seemed to be connected to Casey’s boyfriend-at-the-time, Tony Lazzaro, from his roommates to ‘shot girls‘ who worked at the Fusion Nightclub where Tony conducted event-parties every Friday night.
The prosecution established through these witnesses that Tony, met Casey sometime in mid-May 2008. They soon became inseparable as Casey spent more and more time at Tony’s apartment, eventually seeming to have moved in, without being asked. (Some time around mid-June.) This time period is significant because Caylee disappeared June 16th.
Tony had one official roommate, Cameron Campana, but Nathan Lezniewicz and Roy (Clint) House were also staying in this two-bedroom apartment, rent-free, sleeping on the couch and floor. These four friends were also students at a local university for the arts, a couple of them sharing a side-business of event promotions.
During the first two weeks in June, all the roommates remember seeing Casey at their apartment several times a week, and they all remember meeting Caylee two to four times in that period. By all accounts, Casey was remembered as being a good and attentive mother, bringing books, toys, DVDs, and flashcards for her daughter when they visited. Although Casey did spend the night with Tony a few times per week in this first half of June, they all mentioned that Caylee never spent the night at Tony’s. And no one ever saw Caylee again after mid-June.
The Universal Employee
The Prosecution wanted to make a point through each of the roommates that Casey had told them that she worked at Universal Studios as an event planner. Apparently, Casey would get dressed in the morning and seemingly go to work, later in the day coming home to the shared apartment with a Universal Studios ID badge hanging around her neck. We know now that she had not worked there in more than two years.
The roommates were asked by the prosecutor if Casey would cook for them, clean the apartment, and sometimes even do laundry, and they confirmed that she did those things and sometimes even purchased groceries. It wasn’t clear where the Prosecution was going with that, but the Defense used the opportunity in their cross-examination to suggest that perhaps this was her way of paying her dues for getting to stay at their apartment rent-free. This line of questioning only seemed to backfire on the prosecution.
Another backfire for the prosecution, was when they asked Maria Kissh, Clint House’s girlfriend at the time, if she had ever been in Casey’s car. She said, yes, that she, Clint, Tony and Casey all went out in Casey’s car, she wasn’t sure why, but perhaps to get something to eat. The prosecution left it at that, but the Defense saw the opportunity and took it.
During the cross-examination, lead attorney, Jose Baez, asked Maria where she sat in the car. She replied that she and her boyfriend sat in the backseat. Sitting so close to the trunk, Mr. Baez asked Maria if she smelled a foul odor in the car and she said, “No.” The defense pressed further and asked if anyone in the car said, “Boy, this car stinks.” She said, “No.” (For those not familiar with the case, the prosecution alleges that Caylee’s remains were kept in the trunk of her mother’s car, causing an overwhelming scent that is only associated with a decomposing human body.)
However, the prosecution, missed an opportunity to re-direct and ask Maria when it was that they went for that car ride; or ask her if she knows whether it is even possible to smell odors in the trunk of a Pontiac Sunfire from the backseat; or ask her if she knows how long it takes for a decomposing body to develop a strong enough smell to be noticeable, anything to rehabilitate his witness.
Clearly, if they went for a ride before June 16th, then the car should not have a foul odor. But the prosecution did not bother to redirect. Three witnesses and many hours later, when they called Tony Lazzaro to the stand, Tony did mention that he, Casey, Maria, and Clint went out to his friend’s birthday party on June 4th and Casey drove. The Prosecution should have made an extra effort to highlight this June 4th date – which was before Caylee disappeared – to the jury and connect it to Maria’s statements, but it was a missed opportunity for them, again.
For some reason, the Defense chose to cross-examine the roommates in an almost sarcastic manner, asking each of them in turn, “Were you at Casey’s house on June 16th when Caylee drowned?” The Prosecutor objected to introducing facts not in evidence, but the Judge allowed it. The Defense continued this sarcastic line of questioning, asking some of the witnesses if Casey had ever talked about murdering someone, or did she ever ask to borrow guns, knives, duct tape, chloroform, or other weapons so that she could kill someone? Each witness answered, no, but I can only imagine what the jury was thinking.
The Prosecutor used Tony and each of his roommates to make the point that Casey had her own PC laptop, and they each had a MacBook Pro provided to them by the university they attended. The prosecutor asked them if Casey had ever used any of their laptops and if they had ever used hers. The answer was no on both counts. My guess is that, later on in the trial, the Prosecution will unveil some computer forensic evidence they must have found on Casey’s laptop.
Another point the Prosecution seemed determined to make was that Casey attended Club Fusion on Friday nights with Tony to help him promote the events and provide guidance to the shot girls. The prosecutor introduced photos of Casey dancing and participating in “hot body contests‘ at the club. They pointed out that Friday, June 20th, four days after Caylee disappeared, Casey continued to party and participate in these activities.
The Shot Girls
Neither the roommates nor the ‘shot girls’ ever noticed any change in Casey’s demeanor after June 16th, they all said she was always happy and excited about life. Many of them also mentioned how she was very nice, kind, respectful and caring. The Defense made a point in their cross-examination of re-emphasizing the witnesses’ perception of a kind and caring Casey.
The defense attorney, Jose Baez, had tried to explain away, in his opening statements the day before, why Casey acted ‘normal’ after Caylee’s alleged drowning, why she did not mention the horrific accident to anyone… because, according to Mr. Baez, she had learned as a little girl to use lies and denial to cope with her father and brother’s alleged sexual abuse, to go on as if nothing had happened… and that’s exactly what she did when her daughter accidentally drowned.
Did those defense allegations and explanations have any mitigating effect on how the jury will perceive Casey’s actions after her daughter disappeared or died on June 16th? Who knows.
The prosecution tried to make a couple of other points with these witnesses, namely that Casey always went outside to make or take a call, and, when asked about Caylee, she would say she was with her grandmother or the nanny doing some fun activity, like going to the beach or amusement parks. No one ever heard or overheard Casey talk to Caylee or to the nanny. No one ever met the nanny. However, Casey did tell one of the roommates’ girlfriend that she paid the nanny $400 a week to take care of Caylee. Amazing, how she seems to throw little details into the lies to make them seem more plausible.
The Parents’ House
There was one strange bit of testimony that came out about where Casey planned to live in the future after Tony’s lease ran out in August, but neither side seemed to want to make much of it. Casey told some of these witnesses that her parents were going to leave their home to her and Caylee to live in within the next couple of months. At which point, I could not help but wonder why her parents would ‘leave’ her their house… were they planning to move away… were they planning to die soon… would Casey find a way to get rid of her parents? It was such a crazy story.
The prosecutor also called Casey’s next door neighbor, Brian Burner, from whom she borrowed a shovel on June 18th, two days after Caylee disappeared. Two things stood out: Mr. Burner testified that he saw Casey back up her car into the garage, when her parents were not home, something which he had not seen her do before; and that she had never before borrowed anything. After an hour, she returned the shovel, which she said she had used to remove bamboo shoots in the backyard. All I could wonder was why she drove all the way to her parents, when she was staying at Tony’s, just to dig up bamboo shoots at her parents’ house?
The last witness of the day was Tony Lazzaro, Casey’s boyfriend during the 31 days Caylee was missing, Tony was with Casey on the evening of June 16th, the day Caylee was either killed or accidentally drowned. They went to a Blockbuster video rental store that evening and the Prosecution entered into evidence security video of the two of them walking around the store.
Tony said Casey’s demeanor that night, was “the same she was every day, happy, happy to see me, having a grand old time.” The prosecutor asked Tony if Casey had cried that night, or if she was scared, or nervous,or if she had mentioned anything happening to Caylee? Tony answered, “No. Nothing seemed different from any other night.”
Casey stayed over that night, and from then on stayed with Tony at his apartment. The prosecutor asked if Casey, after that night, ever brought over clothes or toys or toiletries for Caylee, and Tony answered that she had not.
The next day, June 17th, Tony mentioned that he did not go to classes and that the two of them spent the day in bed. The prosecutor asked and he answered that Casey had not called her daughter that day or night and that “she was happy and gave no indication that anything was wrong.” On June 18th, he went to class and “she probably went wherever she would go,” he said. It is worth noting that on June 18th is when Casey went back to her parents house to borrow the shovel from her parents’ neighbor.
Tony further testified about Casey’s participation in the ‘hot body contest’ that Friday night (June 20th) at Club Fusion. He talked about Casey calling him up on June 23rd because she had run out of gas and he picked her up, and took her to her parents’ house where she said she could pick up gas cans. He was concerned about having to use his tire iron to break into the shed, but she told him not to worry, it was her shed. They took the gas cans back to her car, she poured the gas in as he stood a few feet away from the trunk. The Defense during their cross-examination asked him if he smelled any kind of a foul odor and Tony did not.
On June 27, 2008, Casey once again ran out of gas and once again called Tony to pick her up, at the Amscott parking lot where she had parked her car. Tony said she was standing away from her car, holding grocery bags, but he never got out of his car. He offered to look at the car, but she declined the offer stating that her dad would take care of it. They went back to his place. That night she participated in the Club Fusion activities as usual, with no change in demeanor, happy as usual.
On June 30th, Tony drove himself, his roommate and Casey to the airport. He was going to go to Long Island until July 5th and his roommate was going home as well. Casey was to drive his car back to his place and leave it parked in the parking lot. He was asked and stated that he had not given Casey permission to use his car while he was away.
The defense attorney, Jose Baez, once again began with his sarcastic line of questioning: “Did she talk about any murders she had committed or was planning to commit?” Asking if she had borrowed or purchased any guns, knives, duct tape, chloroform, or any other weapons she could use to kill someone. The Defense did ask some serious questions, through which Tony acknowledged he liked Caylee and had no problem dating someone with a child.
The defense attorney asked him about an incident on June 2nd when Tony, Casey and Caylee had gone to the pool together and Casey had to reprimand Caylee because she got too close to the edge of the pool, getting Tony to agree that Caylee really seemed to love to go in the pool. This is important because the Defense contends that Casey drowned in her grandparents’ pool.
The Defense went out of its way to note that Tony had given law enforcement five sworn statements, allowed them to tap his phone, wore a wire to get information from Lee Anthony, never spoke to the media, never sold any photographs, and never made any money from the case. The defense wanted to show him a photograph that was beyond the scope of the direct, and should be brought up during the Defense’s case in chief, but the prosecutor objected. Mr. Baez asked Tony Lazzaro, who now lives in Long Island, New York, if it would be a hardship for him to return to Florida to testify during the Defense’s case in chief, possibly a month from now, He said it would.
The End of the Court Day
The Judge called a sidebar, which seemed to last an eternity, when the lawyers returned to their desks it was not clear what had been decided. However, the defense attorney, Jose Baez, who was about to continue questioning Tony Lazzaro, noticed the time and asked if they might continue their cross-examination tomorrow. Since it was nearly 5:00 p.m., the Judge agreed, the Jury was dismissed, but no one dismissed Tony who was left sitting on the stand. As the attorneys were gathering their things, one of the prosecutors noticed that Tony was still sitting on the witness stand and suggested to the Judge that he might want to dismiss the witness. The Judge laughed, apologized, said that he had not seen Mr. Lazzaro sitting there, and promptly dismissed him, reminding him to return tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. And with that bit of levity the court day ended.
After the trial concluded, I could not help but think about the stark difference between Casey and her peers who testified today. There was one young woman in particular who seemed so polished, professional and mature, dressed in a lovely skirt-suit, having graduated from college and already embarked on a career. All of them seemed to have gotten degrees or jobs or babies, they were moving on with their lives, some of them having moved out of the state, while Casey seemed frozen in time. She sat at the defense table, looking serious, matronly and mousy, so unlike her age, so unlike the photos of her introduced today into evidence. I wondered how it must have felt for her to see her ex-boyfriend again, and for him to see her like that. Did they wonder what might have been, if only?
As for her actions after her daughter was killed or drowned… I am not a psychologist and, thankfully, I have never had to walk in Casey’s shoes, but I am a mother, and I cannot fathom the idea of losing one’s child and then going out to nightclubs and parties, showing no change in demeanor or affect. Her documented ability to manipulate and lie with such agility and such frequency makes it difficult to assess whether or not the story of sexual abuse is true. Still, you can’t help wondering to yourself, “What if it is true?” I suspect the jury might be struggling with the same thing.
The witnesses today left me with a somewhat colored-in picture of what Casey’s life might have been like, and what she might have been like during those 31 days Caylee was missing. The situation seems less black-and-white, Casey herself has become a little more three-dimensional. But you look at her and wish you knew what she was feeling… what she was thinking… and, what really happened?
What are your thoughts?
Martie Hevia (c) 2011 – All Rights Reserved