Casey Anthony Trial | Day 20 – Daily Updates (Thoughts & Observations)
(PRELIMINARY POST: Still Updating Minor Details from my Trial Notes)
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Day 20 – June 16, 2011 – Thursday
The Defense’s List of Witnesses for June 16, 2011
- First Defense Witness: Gerardo </</</</aaaaBloise – Crime Scene Investigator for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
- Second Defense Witness: Heather Seubert – DNA Examiner at Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Third Defense Witness: Robin Maynard – Crime Scene Investigator with Orange County Sheriff’s Department (in 2008).
- Fourth Defense Witness: Ron Murdock – Crime Scene Supervisor with Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
- Fifth Defense Witness: Jennifer Welch – Crime Scene Investigator with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
- Sixth Defense Witness: Lorie Gottisman – Forensic Document Examiner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Seventh Defense Witness: Cary Oien – Unit Chief of Trace Evidence at Federal Bureau of Investigation (in 2008).
The Defense’s Witnesses:
Crime Scene Investigators and F.B.I. Examiners
The Defense brought in some familiar faces and introduced us to some new ones, but all of them worked for law enforcement – either the F.B.I. or the Sheriff’s department. Each of them added a little something to the Defense pile: lack of DNA, lack of direct evidence, lack of relevancy, a little contamination, a little bit of everything it seemed.
CSI Bloise returned to talk about his inspection of Tony Lazzaro’s car and the collection of Casey’s clothing for testing. He used an alternative light source, as well as presumptive tests for blood, and they came back negative.
Ms. Heather Seubert, an F.B.I. DNA examiner, stated that all of Casey’s clothing tested negative for blood and she was unable to generate a DNA profile from them. Likewise for the infamous shovel Casey borrowed from her neighbor, no blood and no DNA profile possible. As for the duct tape, no blood and no DNA profile was generated from either side, however, the non-sticky side of the tape, had partial DNA data in marker D3, which did not come from any of the Anthony family members, instead it appeared to come from an F.B.I. examiner, through contamination. Ms. Seubert also tested the items of clothing and the laundry bag recovered from the scene where the remains were found, and there was no blood and no DNA profile generated. A controversial moment in the trial, but Ms. Seubert was asked and she answered that a paternity test was done and Lee Anthony was not the father.
Robin Maynard and Ron Murdoch, both crime scene investigators with the Sheriff’s department, took the stand to talk about the heart-shaped puffy sticker. Ms. Maynard explained how and where it was collected. And Mr. Murdoch came in with his laptop and mapping software to answer one question: how many feet from the skull was the heart-shaped sticker, and the answer was “approximately 30 feet.”
Another familiar face, Jennifer Welch returned to look at a series of photos of trash collected in the woods where Caylee’s remains were found, simply to say that none of the items were sent for testing. The Defense also asked her if bones were found beyond the location where the heart-shaped sticker was found, but none were found.
A new face was introduced, Lorie Gottesman, the F.B.I. document examiner who likely contaminated the duct tape with her own DNA. Ms. Gottesman had examined the duct tape with special instruments to find the heart-shaped residue on the duct tape that another examiner had reportedly seen, but she was unable to find any semblance of it. Gottesman was also unable to match the plastic that came from the Anthony home to the plastic that was found with Caylee’s remains.
The final witness, Cary Oien, a hair and fiber examiner with the F.B.I., another new face, came to testify that he tested the shovel, found a fragment of a Caucasian hair on the sticker that was found on the shaft of the shovel and he sent it out for mitochondrial testing.
And that concluded the Defense’s first day.
[It is worth noting that today is the third anniversary of Caylee’s death, although, no one in the courtroom mentioned it. More in my ‘Final Thoughts’ below.]
The morning began with the all-too-familiar Crime Scene Investigator, Gerardo Bloise, the one with whom Mr. Baez likes to talk ‘trash.’ [If you recall, during the Prosecution’s case-in-chief, the two of them had a comical exchange about trash and garbage.] He was asked about inspecting Tony Lazzaro’s car and collecting items of clothing from Casey’s closet. They reviewed how neither the alternative light source, nor the presumptive test for blood, found anything. Still, many of Casey’s items of clothing were photographed, bagged and sent for testing. [The point the Defense wanted to make is that nothing of evidentiary value was found – no blood, no DNA, nothing. A point he will make repeatedly with the remaining witnesses.]
Next, the Defense called Heather Seubert, a DNA examiner for the F.B.I. in 2008. Mr. Baez questioned her about the DNA testing done of the stains found on the spare tire cover and trunk liner in Casey’s car, but they were all negative for blood and no DNA profile could be generated from any of the evidence samples. [The point Mr. Baez will probably try to make in closing arguments is that in spite of the decompositional fluid that the Prosecution alleges to be in the trunk, the F.B.I. DNA examiner was unable to find any cells that could be used for DNA typing to create a DNA profile.]
Ms. Seubert was also sent items of Casey’s clothing for DNA testing. Most of the items had no observable stains to test, and the few that had some faint dingy brownish or yellowish stains tested negative for blood and no DNA typing was possible. Another item the DNA examiner received was the infamous shovel, which also tested negative for blood and no DNA typing was possible.
Jose Baez asked Ms. Seubert to explain to the jury the fundamentals of DNA typing and analysis. Of note are the 13 markers or locations where a DNA examiner will look for the two bits of information we get from our mother and father for each of those 13 locations. If the DNA examiner is able to get the DNA data for all 13 locations, then a a full DNA profile can be generated, however, sometimes only some of the locations are populated with an individual’s DNA data.
The latter is what Ms. Seubert got with the DNA analysis of the duct tape – only some of the markers or locations were populated with DNA data. The DNA examiner tested the top silver side of the duct tape for DNA, but what was generated fell below the F.B.I. threshold for reporting, nonetheless, she did get some information on 6 of the 13 locations.
Without getting too technical, location D3 generated some interesting results, the partial DNA data for that location included a ’17,’ however, no one in the Anthony family had a ’17’ in the D3 location of their DNA profile, which means they were all excluded – Casey, Caylee, George, Cindy and Lee were all excluded as being the source of the ’17’ at location D3.
Ms. Seubert tried to determine who may have contributed that ’17’ to location D3, and after checking the staff DNA database and obtaining a few other DNA profiles, she determined that the likely source of the ’17’ was F.B.I. document examiner, Lorie Gottesman, whose DNA profile shows a 16-17 in marker D3. [Of note, Casey is a 15-19 at D3 and Caylee is a 14-15 at D3.]
The Defense reviewed the items recovered from the site where Caylee’s remains were found, including the shorts, what was left of the shirt, a couple of blankets, and a laundry bag. They tested negative for blood and no DNA profile could be generated from any of the items. Additionally, items from the passenger area of Casey’s car, including Caylee’s doll found in the car seat, the car seat itself, and the steering wheel cover all tested negative for blood and no DNA profile could be generated.
A seemingly orchestrated moment of drama arrived when Mr. Baez asked, “Ms. Seubert, were you asked to conduct a paternity test for Lee Anthony as the possible potential…” “Objection!” interjected the Prosecution “… father to Caylee Anthony?” and Mr. Baez stubbornly finished his question.
The judge called for a sidebar and excused the jury for lunch. The lawyers remained to argue it out in front of Judge Perry.
Mr. Ashton, the prosecutor, argued that Mr. Baez knows the FBI does not perform paternity testing and he asked what was the good faith basis for asking that question.
Mr. Baez said that his good faith basis for asking is that it was done to see if Caylee was the potential offspring of Lee Anthony. True the FBI does not normally do it, but they did do in this case… and he was excluded from being the father.
Ms. Seubert looked at her notes and stated that on October 8, 2008, Nick Savage [an FBI agent] said he “would like us to submit the brother’s report with regard to parentage of Caylee.”
The heated prosecutor asked what was the relevance of what an FBI agent thought at one point in time.
The Judge, in his usual calm demeanor, warned Mr. Baez that he is not to ask questions that may lead to an inference. He can call the officer and ask him what he wanted tested and why, but he suggested Mr. Baez read two cases he pointed out to him where they talk about the good-faith basis for asking questions. And, directed at Mr. Ashton, Judge Perry advised that he can hear just fine and they can all speak in normal voices.
The Judge called recess and the attorneys went back to their corners.
After the lunch recess, once again with the jury present, Mr. Baez asked Ms. Seubert, “Did you conduct a paternity test to determine if Lee Anthony was the biological father of Caylee Antony?” Looking through her report, Ms. Seubert replied, “Based on the STR results, Caylee Anthony could not be the offspring of Lee Anthony.”
Re-Cross & Re-Direct
Prosecutor Ashton tried to make the point that as cells and body fluids degrade, so does the DNA, making it difficult, if not impossible to find any DNA with which to make a profile and Ms. Seubert agreed. Mr. Ashton asked if her tests on the swabs from the spare tire cover indicate that it is not from a decomposing human body? She replied that all she can say is that her tests did not detect any blood and she was unable to get any DNA material for typing. He asked her, “If someone is killed in a manner that does not produce blood, the lack of blood at the crime scene does not mean the person was not killed?” And she agreed.
As for the duct tape and the DNA alleles found in marker D3, Mr. Ashton stated that “at least we know that it is not George Anthony.” And she agreed. With regard to the expectation of finding Caylee’s DNA on the sticky part of the duct tape, Mr. Ashton stated that her “expectation of finding any DNA on the duct tape would be diminished given the conditions in which the duct tape was found, in a swampy, wet area.” And Ms. Seubert agreed.
The prosecutor asked the FBI DNA examiner, “The FBI does not do paternity tests, does it?” And she replied, “No, they do not.”
“So, to summarize,” Mr. Ashton concluded, “all of the testing you did on the stain in the trunk of the car, all you know is that it is not blood; and all we know is that the only DNA profile generated from the outdoor scene was from a lab person.”
Mr. Baez re-directed with a good question, “Is it your understanding that in the early stages of decomposition there is blood?” Ms. Seubert agreed. “And within the confinement of a trunk all of those fluids would be absorbed into the carpet if the body is placed there?” Ms. Seubert replied that it depended on whether the body was placed in a protective container, and then it might not. Mr. Baez asked, “What if there is a hole at the top of the bag?” The FBI examiner replied, “Sure it is possible.”
[Good points by the defense. If the decompositional fluid had leaked all over the trunk carpet and liner, one would expect to find at least some presumptive blood test to come back positive or some DNA material to have been found. Of course, the Prosecution is arguing that all of it decomposed and degraded.]
Next, Jose Baez called Robin Maynard to ask her about the puffy heart-shaped sticker found in the woods where Caylee’s remains were discovered. She was in charge of sifting and explained how evidence was coming by the buckets, literally, with the searcher’s name, lane and area. The item would then be photographed, and a form with the information would be filled out. Each bucket represented an area of 10’x5′ that the searcher would search. This particular item, the heart-shaped puffy sticker, which was stuck to a piece of cardboard, was found in Lane 6, 45 feet west of the baseline.
The Defense then called Ron Murdock, the Sheriff’s crime scene supervisor who had previously shown the jury, during the Prosecution’s case-in-chief, the mapping of the area where Caylee’s remains were found. Mr. Baez called him in to ask him how many feet the heart-shaped puffy sticker was from the skull, and he answered, “Thirty feet.” And Baez had no further questions.
Another familiar face, Jennifer Welch, took the stand and was shown a series of photos with miscellaneous trash. Mr. Baez asked her, for each photo, from what lane the trash shown was collected and if any of the items collected were sent to the lab for testing. For each photo of trash she replied the same thing: the items had not been submitted for testing. He also asked her if there were any bones found beyond lane 6 and 45 feet west of the baseline, and she stated that none were found beyond that point. The prosecutor, Linda Burdich, asked Ms. Welch one question, “Would it be fair to classify the area where Caylee was found as a trash dump?” and Ms. Welch replied, “Yes, that’s what I would call it.”
A new face was introduced to the cast of characters, Lorie Gottesman, an F.B.I. forensic document examiner. Ms. Gottesman received the three pieces of duct tape and was asked to try to find a remnant or residue of a heart-shaped sticker on the duct tape. She described the instruments she used, including the series of filters and alternative light frequencies, that help her see things the human eye cannot normally see. After trying all of her instruments, she was still not able to see or detect any remnant, fragment or residue from the heart-shaped sticker.
Ms. Gottesman also confirmed that she may have contaminated the duct tape with her DNA, as she seemed to be the only possible contributor of the ’17’ in DNA marker D3. Mr. Baez asked her if she had been careful, wore gloves, used the protective plastic on the duct tape, and exercised great care, and she said she did. Gottesman admitted that she could not say how or when the contamination may have happened.
The Defense’s final question to this document examiner was about the plastic pieces she was given to compare and assess. Ms. Gottesman was asked and she confirmed that she was unable to match any of the pieces of plastic from the Anthony’s home to any of the plastics found with Caylee’s remains.
The final witness on the Defense’s first day was Cary Oien, an F.B.I. hair and fiber examiner, as well as the Unit Chief of the Trace Evidence Unit in 2008. Mr. Oien examined the shovel and the stickers on the shovel. He found a fragment of a hair on the sticker from the shaft of the shovel. The hair showed Caucasian characteristics and he submitted it for mitochondrial DNA analysis.
Prosecutor Ashton, for his cross-examination, simply asked, “So, you found a hair on the back of the sticker and you don’t know what it is?” “Yes,” Mr. Oien replied and the prosecutor said, “No more questions.” And that concluded the first day of the Defense’s case-in-chief.
Today was the first day of the Defense’s case. They made some good points on the science and the lack of direct evidence. Mr. Baez, the lead defense attorney, had done his homework, as he stumbled along through courtroom procedures and protocol, helped by a charming and disarming smile that no doubt increased his likability factor with the jurors and the witnesses.
Casey seemed confident, smiling and laughing with people around her before the court day began. Her demeanor, as usual, got more serious and somber when the jury was present, but reverting back to her friendly, somewhat flirtatious, self when the Judge would excuse the jury and call a recess.
Her demeanor made me wonder if she remembered what today was?
Today is the third anniversary of Caylee’s death and my thoughts and prayers are with that little girl, her grandparents, and all who mourn her.
What are your thoughts?
Martie Hevia (c) 2011 – All Rights Reserved