Casey Anthony case resembles real-life CSI crime drama
Prosecutors have established that Casey Anthony lied about the disappearance of her daughter Caylee. But physical evidence linking Anthony to her daughter's death has been hard to come by.
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Prosecutors are trying to convince the jury that Anthony killed her daughter, Caylee, and then placed the body in the trunk of her car. Like the odor evidence, the hair evidence is important because it would help link the mother to the dead child through the body’s suspected presence in the car trunk.Skip to next paragraph
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FBI expert acknowledges limitations
But the FBI expert’s testimony came with acknowledged limitations. Ms. Lowe conceded that she could not testify with measurable scientific certainty that the hair came from a dead body, and, more important, that it came from Caylee’s dead body.
Here is what the FBI expert said on cross examination about the limits of her findings: “At the end of the day I can’t say absolutely that hair came from Caylee Anthony.”
Defense Attorney Baez sought to further undermine Lowe’s testimony by citing a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report on the reliability of forensic science in the courtroom.
The report was particularly critical of the use of microscopic hair analysis, noting that some judges had found its use “highly unreliable.”
The 2009 report says in part: “… Microscopic studies alone are of limited probative value. The committee found no scientific support for the use of hair comparisons for individualization in the absence of nuclear DNA [tests].”
Lowe said such DNA testing was not possible and that her testimony was based on a microscopic comparison of the two hair strands.
Ultimately it will be up to the jury to assess the importance and reliability of the forensic evidence and the science used to analyze it.
Concern about the "CSI effect" on jurors
Some legal analysts have expressed concern about a so-called “CSI effect” on jurors in criminal trials.
The popularity of television dramas like "CSI," featuring forensic investigators who are able week after week to solve difficult crimes with scientific certainty, may create unreasonable expectations in the minds of jurors, making it more difficult for prosecutors to win convictions.
Other analysts suggest the CSI effect could cut the other way, making jurors more likely to accept and credit forensic evidence during their deliberations.
Anthony, 25, is charged with first degree murder. If convicted she faces a possible death sentence. She is also charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
Six months after her disappearance, Caylee’s remains were discovered in a wooded area a short walk from the family home. Prosecutors say three strips of duct tape had been wrapped around the child’s mouth and nose.
Defense lawyers maintain that Caylee drowned accidentally in the backyard pool and that Anthony and her father, George, participated in a cover up to make it look like a kidnapping and murder.
George Anthony has denied any wrongdoing and any involvement in a cover up.