Casey Anthony trial: Internet searches for 'chloroform' take center stage
Prosecutors sought to tie Internet searches for 'chloroform' on the family computer to their theory that Casey Anthony subdued her daughter with chloroform before killing her.
(Page 2 of 2)
“I would not want to give an impression of the amounts within these samples, it is not appropriate given the tests I did,” Rickenbach testified.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“As a scientist you want to be precise,” defense attorney Jose Baez asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Especially in a court of law,” Mr. Baez asked.
“Yes,” he added.
A day earlier, on Monday, a different prosecution witness, research scientist Arpad Vass, testified that his instruments showed “shockingly high” amounts of chloroform in the car trunk.
The key witness on Wednesday was computer forensics expert John Dennis Bradley, the developer of a software program used by law enforcement to identify Internet activities on a computer hard drive after they’ve been deleted. [Editor's note: The original version misidentified Mr. Bradley. His name has been corrected throughout the story.]
Mr. Bradley said he was asked to examine the hard drive of the desktop computer from the Anthony home for any reference to chloroform. The request was made by investigators after tests performed by Dr. Vass revealed the presence of chloroform in the car trunk.
In addition to the words “chloroform” and the misspelled “chloraform,” he also discovered search words including inhalation, alcohol, peroxide, head injuries, ruptured spleen, chest trauma, internal bleeding, neck breaking, death, hand-to-hand combat, and self defense. The relevant searches took place on March 17, 2008 and March 21, 2008.
Baez attempted to paint the Internet activity as casual and harmless internet surfing. He suggested that the chloroform search may have been triggered by a gag photo on a MySpace page maintained by one of Anthony’s former boyfriends.
The photo shows a woman at a fancy restaurant in a black dress with a man kissing her neck and holding up a white napkin. The caption reads: “Win her over with chloroform.”
Three minutes vs. 84 visits
On cross examination, Bradley was asked the longest time anyone spent on the home computer looking at websites dealing with chloroform.
Baez volunteered that in the two days together [March 17 and 21] the chloroform searches took up “a little over three minutes in total.”
“Yes, I would agree with that,” Bradley said.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick responded by asking Bradley how often someone on the Anthony’s home computer had visited a particular website dealing with the making of chloroform.
Bradley said the site had been visited 84 times.
“Was this surfing the web for information about weapons and chloroform and how to make chloroform,” Ms. Burdick asked.
“Yes,” Bradley said.
“When someone types into a search engine how to make chloroform, maybe they are trying to find out how to make chloroform,” she asked.
Before Bradley could answer Baez objected to the prosecutor delivering a speech to the jury rather than a question to the witness. The judge sustained the objection.