Casey Anthony Trial | Day 4 – Daily Updates (Thoughts & Observations)
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Day 4 – May 27, 2011 – Friday
The Prosecution’s List of Witnesses for May 27, 2011
- First Prosecution Witness: Mallory Parker – The fiancée of Casey’s brother, Lee.
- Second Prosecution Witness: William Waters, 32 – An acquaintance of Casey’s; she attended his Fourth-of-July Party.
- Third Prosecution Witness: Catherine Sanchez – AMSCOT district manager; reported Casey’s abandoned car to be towed from the parking lot.
- Fourth Prosecution Witness: Simon Birch – Johnson’s Towyard operations manager; was with George Anthony when they first smelled the human decomposition odor.
- Fifth Prosecution Witness: George Anhony – Casey’s father re-called for a third day.
- Sixth Prosecution Witness:Anthony Lazzaro – Casey’s boyfriend during the 31 days Caylee was missing.
The Prosecution’s Witnesses:
Odors, Tow-yards, Text Messages, and Videos
The Prosecution called six witnesses today, and once again we saw both George Anthony and Tony Lazzaro. Most of the day focused on Casey’s abandoned car, the towing of the car, and the odor detected in it. The prosecutors also introduced 12 different video surveillance footage from a number of stores and one bank showing Casey on shopping sprees, but not relentlessly looking for her kidnapped daughter, as she had once claimed. The day ended with Mr. Lazzarro on the stand, the Defense objecting, the jury being dismissed early, sidebars, discussions, and adjournment.
The morning began with Mallory Parker taking the stand. She is Lee Anthony’s fiancée, Casey’s future sister-in-law. Perhaps in a show of support for his fiancée, Lee Anthony made his first appearance at the courthouse. Only noticeable, because, unlike his parents, Lee has not been in court all week – until today.
The Prosecution asked Mallory about the attempts she and Lee made to find Casey, at the behest of Lee’s mother, Cindy Anthony. On July 3rd, around 10:00 p.m., Lee got word from friends that Casey had been seen downtown (they live in Orlando) and he, Mallory, and a friend of theirs headed downtown to see if they could find Casey.
Mallory testified that she sent Casey 5-6 text messages, before she responded, asking if she was downtown so they could meet up. Casey never admitted to being downtown. She asked Mallory if Lee was with her and said that she didn’t want the family to worry about her, she just needed space. Mallory asked Casey to come to the family get-together that weekend and to bring Caylee. Casey said she would try.
Lee made repeated phone calls to Casey and managed to talk to her a number of times. This testimony tied in with yesterday’s testimony by Troy Brown and Melissa England, who said they were at a club with Casey in downtown Orlando having a great time, until she began to get calls from her brother, Lee. Those phone conversations upset Casey so much she started crying, and decided to leave.
The cross-examination by the Defense brought Casey to tears as her future sister-in-law described a genuine bond between Casey and Caylee, as she cried on the stand. Defense attorney, Jose Baez, asked Mallory if Caylee had ever gone without food, or if she had ever been neglected, tortured or abused, and Mallory replied, “No, sir. Their relationship was amazing.”
William Waters was a co-worker and friend of Amy Huizenga. Amy is the woman whose check book Casey stole and whose bank account she emptied. Casey was charged with 13 counts of check fraud, to which she pleaded guilty. But before that, Amy was the friend to whom she told a fanciful story about her parents leaving her their house to live in, and with whom she made plans to move into the Anthonys’ home within weeks.
Amy and Casey attended Mr. Water’s Fourth-of-July party. William was asked about Casey’s demeanor on July 4th, and he described what we have come to know as ‘typical Casey:’ happy, outgoing, care-free. The only time William Waters noticed a change in Casey’s mood was when he overheard a phone call Casey was having with her boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro, as they talked about Tony moving back to New York and she did not want him to. Mr. Waters said she was angry after ending the phone call.
William Waters had mentioned his plans to go to IKEA the next day, and Casey wanted to go, as well. She told him that she needed furniture, because she and a friend of hers, who also had a child, were going to get a house together, and share a nanny because it would be cheaper. They were planning to move within the next two months. At the same time that Casey is telling Mr. Waters this story, he is aware that Amy thinks she and Casey are moving into Casey’s parents’ house soon.
The prosecutor asked him the same demeanor questions they have been asking everyone who knew or met Casey during the 31 days Caylee was missing… did Casey tell them her daughter was missing, kidnapped, or dead… did she mention that she needed help finding her daughter or that anything was wrong? No. She was always happy, outgoing, spunky, fun, typical Casey. Mr. Waters was also asked if he knew whether or not she had a job at the time and he told the prosecutor about her Universal Studios event coordination job. Little did he know at the time that this was just a figment of Casey’s imagination.
The defense cross-examination seemed more a soliloquy, “In her world, she had a job and she loved it… She was friendly and cared for people. In her world she was happy.” The Defense ended their short cross-examination by asking Mr. Waters if he had any information about June 16th about how, when or where Caylee died? And he said, “No.”
The prosecution’s re-direct was short and sweet: “Was she convincing in her stories about the job, the move, etc.?” Mr. Waters answered “yes,” and the witness was excused.
Video Surveillance Footage
The Prosecution and the Defense agreed to the following stipulation about the video surveillance footage that was admitted into evidence: The copy of the video surveillance recorded, is a true and accurate representation of the business records. The parties have agreed to this fact and it should be considered true in your deliberations.
These videos show Casey on shopping sprees, not looking for Casey, as she had stated to police she was doing during the time Caylee was missing. The video surveillance videos also show Casey writing checks to pay for shopping sprees and withdrawing money at a bank.
The jury, who by now know that Casey does not have a job, are left to wonder how Casey is paying for all the groceries, and boxes of beer, and clothes for herself. What the jury doesn’t know, and I suspect will not be allowed to know, is that Casey pleaded guilty to check fraud charges that included her admission of stealing her friend’s checkbook and emptying out her bank account.
One more thing worth noting, the videos never show Casey buying any toys, clothes or toiletries for a two-year old little girl. I wonder if the jury will notice that as well.
Target Video: June 30, 2008
JC Penney Video: July 1st 2008
IKEA Video: July 5, 2008
Target Video: July 7, 2008
Target Video: July 8, 2008
Target Video: July 10, 2008
Target Video: July 10, 2008
Target Video: July 10, 2008
WinnDixie Video: July 12, 2008
Bank of America Video: July 15, 2008
BlockBuster Video: July 15, 2008
Catherine Sanchez is a district manager at AMSCOT. She worked at the AMSCOT where Casey abandoned her car in June 2008. Ms. Sanchez first noticed the car parked, back end first, next to the dumpster on June 27, 2008. The next day when she went to work, Saturday, June 28th, she noticed that the car, the Pontiac Sunfire, was still there.
She walked up to it, wrote down the tag number, but did not touch it. She walked around the car to see if there were any notes indicating it had broken down. But no notes were left on the car. Ms. Sanchez looked inside the vehicle, she noticed it was messy, she saw a blanket in the back seat, but did not try the door handles.
After writing down the tag numbers, she called the Orlando non-emergency police number to report an abandoned vehicle and to make sure that it was not stolen, before having it towed, as company policy dictated. She discovered that it was not stolen. Her boss told her to wait one more day before having the car towed. On Monday, June 30th, the vehicle was still there, so she called Johnson’s Towing and they towed the car.
The prosecutor asked if when she had approached the vehicle on June 28th, whether she noticed any odor coming from the vehicle. Ms. Sanchez said that she assumed it was the smell of the trash in the dumpster. The defense attorney came up and asked, “So, you smelled trash on June 28th and you didn’t smell any other smell but trash?” She responded, “Yes, the smell of trash.”
Simon Birch was the operations manager for Johnson’s Towing, the company that towed Casey’s car on June 30th. the prosecution asked him about their procedures and paperwork and security. He described the procedures they follow to send a certified letter after 4 to 5 days of the vehicle being in the tow-yard; he talked about the high security fences and gates; but all any one really wanted to know was if he had smelled the odor of human decomposition.
This is a huge point for the Prosecution, because even though Cindy Anthony in her 911 call mentioned that her daughter’s car smelled like there had been a dead body in it, later on,when Casey was arrested for Caylee’s murder, Cindy Anthony changed her story and said that there was a bag of trash in the trunk, and that was the odor she had smelled.
The Prosecution smartly solicited Mr. Birch’s expertise and experience in dealing with the smell of human decomposition versus trash. It just so happened that he had experience with both. He had worked in waste management and had been exposed to a wide range of odors and garbage smells. Mr. Birch had also towed for many law enforcement agencies over the years, which included vehicles where victims had died in their car, but whose bodies had not been discovered for days or weeks. He had dealt with these types of situations 6 to 8 times in his career. Just recently, in relation to July 2008, the vehicle of a suicide victim, whose remains had not been found for several days had been brought into the tow-yard. “It is a smell you never forget,” he said. He had also towed vehicles from food restaurants and garbage trucks, he even had a car full of groceries, where the victim was in a car accident and the car was not picked up for weeks.
The prosecutor, asked him, if, with that experience, he could distinguish the difference between trash and human decomposition in a car. He replied that in his experience, the smell of human decomposition is completely unique, there is nothing else like it. Once you smell it, you never forget that smell. He mentioned that cars are actually very well-sealed, so the odor stays well-contained, unless you can open the car.
“Did you notice any odor coming from this vehicle?” Mr. Birch said that he had not smelled anything during his cursory review of the vehicle, which included looking in, under, and all around the vehicle. However, he said, that when he put his hand up to the window to look inside, while shielding the glare, he did notice a strong odor, which he immediately recognized as the smell of human decomposition.
On July 15th, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony came to retrieve the car, having received notice that their car, which Casey exclusively drove, had been towed. Mr. Birch escorted George Anthony to the vehicle. Mr. Anthony looked in the windows, opened the door and the smell was immediately noticeable and strong. George Anthony got in the car, tried to start it, but it would only crank or turn over. Both George Anthony and Mr. Birch noticed that the gas gage was on empty and Mr. Anthony mentioned that he had brought gasoline with him and Mr. Birch escorted him out to get the gas can. No one had opened up anything other than the driver’s door. Mr. Anthony was escorted back to the car and he poured the gas. Mr. Birch could not recall which happened first, George Anthony getting back in the car to start it or the two of them walking to the trunk to see if they could find the origin of the odor.
The tow-yard manager, Mr. Birch, suggested they open the trunk and he noted that they were both standing side-by-side. The odor that came out of the trunk was even stronger, and a few flies flew out. Inside they found a standard white garbage bag. No other items were in there. One of them suggested they look in the bag to see if the origin of the smell was there. The prosecutor asked what Mr. Birch remembered seeing in the bag, and he remembered a pizza box and papers, he said it was very light and there were no food items. There was nothing in the bag that would have created that smell. Mr. Birch offered to dispose of it for George Anthony and threw it in the dumpster.
Next up was the Defense cross-examination by Jose Baez. Mr. Baez seemed to focus on how long it took the Anthonys to pick up the car after the tow-yard had sent them the certified letter, but it wasn’t clear why. Mr. Baez made a couple of good points. First, asking Mr. Birch why he did not call the police if he really thought that what he smelled was human decomposition. Second, he asked Mr. Birch if the form letter sent to the Anthonys included information on how many days the car was at AMSCOT. He said they don’t have that information, but Mr. Anthony knew it had been at AMSCOT for three days because he told Mr. Birch as they walked toward the car. Later on, during Mr. Anthony’s cross-examination, Jose Baez asked Mr. Anthony if he had called AMSCOT, and Mr. Anthony said he had called them from work, after he and his wife had picked up the car. Mr. Baez asked and Mr. Anthony denied having told Mr. Birch how many days the car was at AMSCOT when he went to pick up the car.
The prosecutor asked if the foul odor of decomposition had traveled with the bag, once it had been separated from the car, and Mr. Birch said, “It didn’t appear to.”
George Anthony testified that his wife found a postal notice for a certified letter from Johnson on Sunday, July 13, 2008. This point became a big issue with Jose Baez, the defense attorney, who saw something sinister in the delay between Casey’s car arriving at the tow-yard on June 30th and the Anthonys picking it up two weeks later. Mr. Anthony explained that they rarely use their front door, using the garage door instead and perhaps had not seen the notice earlier. Not knowing the letter was from a tow-yard, Mr. Anthony started his new job on July 14th and was not able to go to the post office until July 15th, the day they picked up the car.
After he read the letter, he immediately called his wife, because the letter stated that Casey’s car had been towed on June 30th. As far as the Anthonys knew, the car was still with Casey and she was in Jacksonville. They headed to the tow-yard making sure to bring with them cash, the registration and their driver’s licenses. Mr. Anthony made a point of bringing a gas can with gas in it. His experience had taught him that that was the thing to do. As he approached the car, within 3 feet of the passenger door he detected the smell of a decomposing human corpse. A smell he remembered from his days as a police detective in Ohio, a smell you never forget.
When George Anthony got to the car, he checked for damage, and didn’t see anything. He put the key in the driver side door, opened it, and the odor was more intense. He got in and rolled down the passenger window, and tried to start the car, it turned over, but realized it was out of gas. As he walked to the trunk, George Anthony said to himself, “Please, God, don’t let this be Casey or Caylee.” He opened the trunk, and saw a white garbage bag, he could see through the light colored plastic that there was a Pizza box, he could see “Arm & Hammer,” and maggots. The manager pulled it out and tossed the bag away.
George Anthony then went back to the other car to get the gas can, returned, and was able to start the car, and drive it out. The prosecutor asked if, with the bag out of the car, the smell was gone, but he said, no, it was still very present. He was forced to drive home in the rain with the windows down all the way. He put the car in the garage, opened all the doors, the trunk, and the sunroof to air the car out. Since he had just started a new job the day before, he felt he needed to return to work and Cindy was going to try to track down Casey.
The Defense cross-examination spent a great deal of time wondering why it took so long for the notice of a certified letter to arrive via the United States Postal Service from a location that is just 1-1/2 miles away; wondering why Mr. Anthony brought a gas can with gasoline and how did he know the car would need gas; wondering why Mr. Anthony did not call the police when he smelled the odor of human decomposition; and wondering why he didn’t call Casey to make sure she and Caylee were okay.
True to form, Jose Baez and George Anthony butted heads and created some fireworks as Mr.Baez accusingly asked: “Mr. Anthony, the reason you drove that car home, didn’t call the police and went to work is because you knew that Caylee was already dead?” No, Mr. Anthony said, but Mr. Baez continued, “And, as a former detective you know that the best way to not be considered a suspect is to be as far away from the scene of the crime.” The prosecutor shouted “Objection!”
The prosecutor, clearly agitated, began his re-direct. “Mr. Baez asked you about distancing yourself from evidence? If Caylee drowned and you threw that little girl’s body in the woods there would be no evidence in the car?” “No.” “So there would be nothing in the car to run away from.” “Objection!” shouted Mr. Baez. And Mr. Anthony was excused as a witness.
Tony Lazzaro was back on the stand in reference to AOL instant text messages between Casey and himself, between April 29 and June 12, 2008. The prosecutor was only able to ask Mr. Lazzaro to identify his and Casey’s AOL instant messenger names. He was asked if the transcript before him was true and accurate and then the Defense objected. A sidebar was called, which took so long the Judge excused the jury for a while so that they could finish their discussion in open court outside the presence of the jury.
The Judge seemed to be trying to determine the prohibitive versus prejudicial value of the text messages and for what purpose the prosecutor wanted to use them. As Judge Perry began reading aloud the text messages between Tony and Casey, I had to laugh.
(And trust me when I say it only got worse,)
After some colorful language and phrases that referenced sexual acts, which I will skip over, the gist of the text message conversation between Tony and Casey on June 10th, was that Tony was insisting on coming over to Casey’s house, her parents’ house, to have sex, and he was not going to take no for an answer. Casey wrote back “just a few more days and then you can come over whenever you want.”
Judge Perry seemed to be ruling against admitting the transcript into evidence because the prejudicial factor was greater than the prohibitive value, and he did not find ‘motive’ to be an essential element to be proved.
The jury was brought back in, only to be excused for the day, with plans to return to court on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. The Judge planned on taking a break, getting copies of the transcript, and further discussing admission of other text messages. But upon returning from break the prosecutor asked for a sidebar and the Judge declared that the court was in recess until tomorrow.
It was a tough day hearing about human decomposition odors, knowing it was a little two-year-old they were really talking about, but perhaps it bothered me more that Casey, the two-year-old’s mother, sat there at the defense table with no reaction to the discussions about her daughter.
There were a few loose wires that started sparking for me…
Was Casey planning to kill her parents as well?
She seemed so specific in time-frame with Tony and Amy… In a few days, Tony would be able to come over whenever he wanted, and Amy would be able to move in to the house soon.
It was a chilling day today in the trial of Casey Anthony.
What are your thoughts?
Martie Hevia (c) 2011 – All Rights Reserved