Casey Anthony murder trial focuses on 'trash' versus 'garbage'
Prosecutors and defense counsel in the Casey Anthony murder trial argue over how to describe a plastic bag of refuse found in the trunk of her car. Does it link to the body of Caylee Anthony?
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“Absolutely,” Haskell testified.Skip to next paragraph
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He said based on the type of insects he’d found in the paper towels he estimated the body would have been in the car trunk three to five days.
On cross-examination, Defense Attorney Jose Baez challenged Haskell’s assumption that whatever was on the paper towels that attracted the insects must have come from human decomposition. Wouldn’t left-overs from a restaurant forgotten in a hot car attract the same flies, Mr. Baez asked.
Not that quantity, Haskell said.
That’s when Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton asked Haskell the difference between trash and garbage.
“To my thinking garbage is primarily decomposing organic material,” he said, “versus trash which is any inorganic stuff you are throwing out.”
Haskell said the insects he studies are searching for decomposing organic material, both animal and plant, to “colonize and try to raise their kids in it.”
He said the white plastic bag contained trash – a collection of inorganic materials that were not decomposing.
“You weren’t present when they collected the trash or garbage,” Baez asked.
“So you wouldn’t know if it was soaking-wet with organic material or not,” Baez said.
“There’s nothing to suggest it was,” Haskell testified.
Was evidence inadvertently destroyed?
Baez had earlier criticized crime scene investigator Gerardo Bloise for placing the material from the white bag in a drier for two days before storing the dried contents in the evidence room.
In testimony on Tuesday, Mr. Bloise said he took inventory of the contents before drying them. His inventory does not list items of garbage except perhaps an empty pizza box, an empty cheese wrapper, and an empty frozen dinner carton.
He testified that the white bag smelled like “trash,” but had a different odor than Anthony’s car. He said it was department protocol to place such items in an evidence drier.
“You had no idea the evidence would be altered,” Baez asked.
“No,” he said.
The routine drying may have undercut the state’s investigation as much as defense efforts.
Had they been preserved as found and immediately tested, the maggot-covered paper towels might have provided a direct link between Caylee’s dead body and her mother.
Haskell said it is possible to retrieve human host DNA from lice, maggots, and even bed bugs. It is unclear whether the procedure was attempted given the state of the evidence.
Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder. If convicted she faces a possible death sentence.
She has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys say Caylee died in a swimming pool accident and that Casey Anthony and her father participated in a coverup of the death.
The trial is set to continue on Monday.