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Jury begins deliberations in Casey Anthony trial
Question of the Day
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jurors began deliberating Monday in the Casey Anthony murder trial after hearing prosecutors argue the woman killed her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, because the toddler interrupted her carefree partying and love life.
Prosecutors in their rebuttal closing argument earlier Monday said the defense’s assertion that Caylee’s death was an “accident that snowballed out of control” makes no sense.
Ms. Anthony’s lawyers say the girl drowned in the family’s pool. They have said Ms. Anthony panicked and that her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a homicide by placing duct tape over the child’s mouth and dumping the body in some nearby woods. George Anthony, Ms. Anthony’s father, has denied that.
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton told the jurors that no one makes an innocent accident look like a murder.
“That’s absurd. Nothing has been presented to you to make that any less absurd,” Mr. Ashton said. He also spent significant time reminding the jurors about the forensic evidence that he said links Ms. Anthony to her daughter’s death, including the smell and chemical signature of decomposition in her car.
Ms. Anthony is charged with first-degree murder and six other charges. If convicted of first-degree murder, she could be sentenced to death or life in prison. The seven women and five men of the jury were chosen from the Tampa Bay area because of pretrial media coverage of the case and have been sequestered in an Orlando hotel. They have listened to 33 days of testimony and another two days of closing arguments.
Lead prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick followed Mr. Ashton, telling the jurors that prosecutors presented every piece of evidence they promised during opening statements back in May. Without saying it, she was pointing out that defense attorneys never presented direct evidence backing up their contentions that the child drowned and the death was made to look like a murder.
She then hammered on the lies Ms. Anthony, then 22, told during the 31 days between the time her daughter was last seen on June 16, 2008, and the time sheriff’s investigators were notified a month later. Those include the single mother telling her parents that she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zanny, a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time in Jacksonville with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic accident and that they were spending time with her. No one has come forward as Caylee’s father.
“Responses to grief are as varied as the day is long, but responses to guilt are oh, so predictable,” Ms. Burdick said. “What do guilty people do? They lie. They avoid. They run. They mislead, not just to their family, but the police. They divert attention away from themselves, and they act like nothing is wrong. That’s why you heard about what happened in those 31 days.”
Ms. Burdick concluded the state’s case by showing the jury two final, side-by-side images of Casey Anthony. One was of her smiling and partying in a nightclub during the month Caylee was missing. The other was of the “beautiful life” tattoo she got a day before her family and law enforcement first learned of the child’s disappearance.
Ms. Anthony sat stone-faced during much of the prosecutors’ arguments but occasionally shook her head in disagreement and spoke under her breath.
Defense lawyers contend that after Caylee drowned, her troubled mother’s lies and erratic behavior were brought on by her grief over her dead child and the sexual abuse she suffered as a child from her father. Mr. Anthony denies that allegation, and the judge said no evidence has been presented to support it.
Ms. Anthony also is charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. The child abuse and manslaughter charges each carry a 30-year prison term if she’s convicted.
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