The Casey Anthony trial, where the 25-year-old Florida woman faces a first degree murder charge for the 2008 killing of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Mare, saw the end of the state’s rebuttal case on Friday. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the state provided rebuttal evidence to Cindy Anthony’s bombshell testimony on Thursday that she was responsible for the chloroform searches on the Anthony home computer, not her daughter. But why spend so much time on the chloroform issue?
Simple: The state’s entire argument of premeditated murder rests on those computer searches and that the constitute proof of Casey Anthony’s premeditated murder of her daughter. If Cindy Anthony’s story is true, that she was actually home instead of at work — as her work records indicate — and the computer prompted “chloroform” when she typed in “chlorophyll,” or perceived as credible by the jury, the mostly circumstantial case against Anthony falls apart. The death of Caylee Anthony then might look like an accident, an unfortunate occurrence in the life a young woman seemingly not adept at making good decisions.
So the state attorneys brought witnesses to testify that Cindy Anthony was at work on the days the computer searches were done. John Camperlengo, a chief compliance officer for Gentiva Health Services, testified that someone using Cindy Anthony’s password and username during the week of March 17, 2008. The defendant’s mother told jurors she had gone home a couple times during work and used the home computer. During cross-examination, Camperlengo said that a person could remain logged into their system for up to five hours before being automatically logged out for inactivity.
On Thursday, when the state’s attorney asked if she specifically typed in “how to make chloroform,” Anthony said she did not. When asked about the 84 separate searches, Anthony said she had not searched for anything, that the computer had prompted the word “chloroform,” and that she had no idea what her computer did on its own. Much of Anthony’s testimony indicates that her computer skills are limited, at one point having to have the term “browser” explained to her.
But if the jury — or just one juror — believes her, the state’s case for premeditation vanishes. On rebuttal, the state had to discredit Casey Anthony’s mother, make her appear as a fearful mother intent on making certain her daughter is not convicted of murder, willing to face perjury charges rather than see her daughter face the death penalty. In short, the state had to attempt to show that a suspected murdering mother’s mother was a liar.
The state contends that then 22-year-old Casey Anthony, hellbent on living a carefree lifestyle, purposely premeditated the act of killing her daughter, Caylee. According to the state’s opening arguments, she searched for the word “chloroform” and other terms associated with possible killing, then later carried out the slaying of her daughter by chloroforming her and duct-taping her mouth and nose, thereby causing her death. She then stored the child’s body in her car, where its decomposition after several days forced her to dispose of the body, which she did in a wooded area near her parents’ home outside Orlando.
The defense argued that the death was an accident, that Caylee had died by drowning in the family pool and that Casey and her father, George, covered it up. The defense shocked the courtroom with allegations that Casey’s bizarre behavior — covering up the death, not reporting her daughter’s death for a month, the partying lifestyle during the time of disappearance, the lies she told friends and family before and after the disappearance, the lies she told investigators about the disappearance — all stemmed from emotional scarring from sexual abuse she had sustained since 8 years old at the hands of her father.
George Anthony has denied publicly that he ever had sexual contact with his daughter. He has also denied having been present at the death of his granddaughter or having anything to do with a cover-up of her death.
And the defense, once it began to make its case, centered much of its witnesses on refuting the chloroform, duct tape, and decomposition evidence presented by the state. Trying to poke holes in the state’s story, experts suggested other valid arguments as to why there were traces of chloroform evidence (decomposing bodies give off chloroform, which could point to accidental death) and that trash may have been stored and rotted inside the car (instead of a body).
Problematic for the state is that they have no actual witnesses to the death, nor do they have a confession. As for the death itself, the autopsy only revealed that the manner of death was consistent with homicide and that the cause of death was undetermined.
Anthony, who has been in jail since October 2008 (originally charged with murder without evidence that the event had occurred; Caylee’s remains were found in December 2008), refused to take the stand in her own defense, so questions concerning the “chloroform” searches or the possible use of chloroform in the death of her child went unanswered.
Succinctly: the chloroform closes the deal. If the jury finds Cindy Anthony a less than credible witness and that the there was premeditation involved due to the computer searches, and given the evidence of the remains and the car trunk, the chloroform searches becomes the beginning of tale of murder. If the testimony is found to be credible, or several other scenarios suggested by the defense — such as the drowning, which would obviate the chloroform searches altogether — provide reasonable doubt, then Caylee Anthony’s death becomes one that could possibly have been accidental or even one that did not involve Casey Anthony at all.
The premeditated murder angle hinges on the chloroform…
So, ultimately, the members of the jury have to decide. Is the state’s evidence credible and have they met the burden of proof that Casey Anthony murdered her daughter? Or did the defense do a good enough job at deflecting, refuting, debunking, and re-explaining evidence so as to provide reasonable doubt?
Closing arguments in the trial have been scheduled for Sunday.