Monday, June 6, 2011

Casey Anthony trial enters 3rd week

The third week of the Casey Anthony murder trial gets underway Monday. On the second week, that ended Saturday, jurors had a front-row seat to the vivid yet imaginary world the Florida mother created in the weeks after 2-year-old daughter Caylee disappeared in 2008. The jury heard detailed stories from Anthony's mother and her brother, of her business trips to Tampa and visits to an old flame that later proved to be false. Jurors also heard recordings of Anthony's police interviews, jailhouse visits and a 911 call.
Anthony is charged with seven counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading police in the 2008 death of daughter Caylee. The last time the little girl was seen was June 16, 2008. The girl's grandmother, Cindy, reported her missing on July 15, 2008. Caylee's body was found five months later, in a wooded area less than a mile from the Anthony family home in eastern Orange County. Anthony, 25, has denied harming her daughter or having anything to do with the little girl's disappearance or death. Her lawyer has said that once all the facts were known, it will become clear his client is innocent. In a July 16, 2008, police interview, which the jury heard Thursday, Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. John Allen told Anthony the time had come to reveal the truth. "By burying this ... you are not going to get yourself to a better place, OK?" Allen said. "What you're going to do is you're going to cause everybody else around you to suffer. And at some point this is going to come out; it always does." Anthony heard the same sentiment expressed during in a jailhouse phone conversation with her mother, also on July 16, 2008. When Anthony blames her mother for her being in jail, Cindy Anthony fights back. "Well, whose fault is your sitting in the jail?" she asked her daughter. "Blame yourself for telling lies." The excusesTestimony earlier in the trial in Orlando revealed that Anthony lied to her parents and avoided them for 31 days in the summer of 2008 while Caylee was supposedly missing. During the second week of the trial, jurors learned more about what Anthony told her parents during that time and what she was actually doing. From the witness stand Tuesday, Anthony's mother described heated confrontations with her daughter on July 15, 2008, after she learned Anthony had been lying about her whereabouts for a month. The stories began with Anthony saying she was having a sleepover with a nanny named Zenaida "Zanny" Gonzalez. Then, Anthony said she was out of town on a work trip to Tampa, Florida. By the fourth week, Anthony's story was that she was out of town visiting an old boyfriend named Jeffrey Michael Hopkins. Cindy Anthony caught her daughter in her lies by discovering she was, in fact, in Orlando with a different boyfriend. By the time her mother called 911 to report Caylee missing, Anthony had a new story. "I know who has her. She's been my nanny for about a year-and-a-half, almost two years," Anthony told the operator in the July 15, 2008, call, which jurors heard Tuesday. When asked by the operator why she waited so long to report her daughter missing, Anthony replied, "I have been looking for her and have gone through other resources to try to find her, which was stupid." The characters In the following days, Gonzalez's alleged role would expand from an occasionally-mentioned nanny to a central character in Caylee's disappearance. When initially questioned by Orange County Detective Yuri Melich on July 16, 2008, about Gonzalez, Anthony provided a description of her without hesitation. That interview was played Wednesday. Anthony said she'd known Gonzalez for four years after they met working together at Universal Studios. She provided a physical description of Gonzalez, her address, even her mother's name. Other characters were also fleshed out. Hopkins, a former Universal Studios co-worker, according to Anthony, lived in Jacksonville and had a son named Zachary who played with Caylee. And then there was Juliette Lewis, another co-worker at Universal, who now lived in New York, Anthony said. She also had a daughter Caylee's age. Anthony claimed she called Lewis and Hopkins when she realized Caylee was missing. But prosecutors claim Anthony was not looking for her daughter in the month she was missing. Instead, she was staying with her boyfriend, spending time in Orlando with friends, attending parties, going shopping and hitting nightclubs, according to testimony from friends, her former boyfriend, and acquaintances, who also said that she did not mention her daughter being missing during that time. Anthony's frustration level with her parents, particularly her mother, was rising around the time Caylee disappeared, friend Amy Huizenga testified Tuesday. "I remember she told me her mom had told her she was an unfit mother. She was extremely upset about that," Huizenga said. But Anthony also was agitated at her mother because she had to cancel plans "fairly frequently" when no one was available to watch her daughter, Huizenga testified. In late June, Huizenga said, Anthony told her that she was keeping Caylee away from her parents, as they were having marital problems and were considering divorce, and "she wanted to keep Caylee out of the drama." 'Fessing upOn Thursday, Detective Melich described the day Anthony was finally forced to admit her lies, at least in part. On July 16, 2008, Melich worked with Universal Studios to scour the employee database. Anthony was in the database, but she hadn't been affiliated with Universal for years. Melich also found no record of Gonzalez or Lewis. A Jeffrey Hopkins was found, but never worked for the company at the same time as Anthony. Gonzalez's supposed apartment had also been found vacant. Anthony voluntarily met Melich at Universal Studios to discuss the matter. Melich testified Thursday that he watched Anthony try to enter the park without a badge, then attempted to lead him to her office before being forced to admit she didn't have one. "I can tell you just for certainty everything you've told me so far has been a lie," Melich said in a recorded interview played for the jury on Thursday. "I've gone to every address that you've told me. I've looked up every name, I've talked to every person that you wanted me to talk or try to. And found out all these names you're giving me are people that either never worked here or been fired a long time ago, OK?" Anthony conceded she didn't work at Universal and that the people she had described as her co-workers did not exist. Yet she continued to blame Gonzalez for the disappearance of her child. Cindy Anthony said her daughter had been telling her about Gonzalez along with numerous other people -- a boyfriend, a co-worker and a man named Eric Baker, whom she believed to be Caylee's father -- for years before Caylee went missing. At the time, she said, she never had a reason to believe those people were fictitious. "I just found out they were imaginary people," she testified. A Zenaida Gonzalez was later found, but she had no affiliation with Anthony aside from having filled out a guest card at the Orlando apartment complex where Anthony claimed the nanny lived. The apartment where Anthony said Gonzalez lived was found to be vacant, and there was no record of Gonzalez in the Universal Studios employee database. Anthony has denied killing her daughter. She faces the death penalty if convicted.

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