ORLANDO, Fla. — The Florida sheriff’s office that investigated the disappearance of Casey Anthony’s 2-year-old daughter overlooked evidence that someone in their home did a Google search for “fool-proof” suffocation methods on the day Caylee Anthony was last seen alive.
Orange County sheriff’s Capt. Angelo Nieves said Sunday that the office’s computer investigator missed a June 16, 2008, Google search for “fool-proof” suffocation methods.
The agency’s admission was first reported by Orlando television station WKMG. It’s not known who performed the search. The station reported it was done on a browser primarily used by the Ms. Anthony, who was acquitted on murder charges in Caylee’s death.
Ms. Anthony’s attorneys argued during the 2011 trial that the woman helped her father, George Anthony, cover up the girl’s drowning in the family pool.
WKMG reports that sheriff’s investigators pulled 17 vague entries only from the computer’s Internet Explorer browser, not the Mozilla Firefox browser commonly used by Ms. Anthony. More than 1,200 Firefox entries, including the suffocation search, were overlooked.
Whoever conducted the Google search looked for the term “fool-proof suffication,” misspelling “suffocation,” and then clicked on an article about suicide that discussed taking poison and putting a bag over one’s head.
The browser then recorded activity on the social networking site MySpace, which was used by Ms. Anthony but not her father.
A computer expert for Ms. Anthony’s defense team found the search before the trial. Her lead attorney, Jose Baez, first mentioned the search in his book about the case but suggested it was Mr. Anthony who conducted the search after Caylee drowned because he wanted to kill himself.
Not knowing about the computer search, prosecutors had argued Caylee was poisoned with chloroform and then suffocated by duct tape placed over her mouth and nose. The girl’s body was found six months after she disappeared in a field near the family home and was too decomposed for an exact cause of death to be determined.
Prosecutors presented evidence that someone in the Anthony home searched online for how to make chloroform, but Ms. Anthony’s mother, Cindy, claimed on the witness stand that she had done the searches by mistake while looking up information about chlorophyll.
Many jurors apparently went into hiding amid public outrage over the verdict and refused to comment, but two have said prosecutors couldn’t conclusively prove how Caylee died.
Prosecutors Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton didn’t respond to emails on Sunday.
But Mr. Ashton told WKMG that “it’s just a shame we didn’t have it. This certainly would have put the accidental death claim in serious question.”
Mr. Baez didn’t respond to phone or email messages Sunday from the Associated Press but told WKMG that he expected prosecutors to bring up the search at trial.
“When they didn’t, we were kind of shocked,” Mr. Baez, who no longer represents Ms. Anthony, told the station.