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Casey Anthony trial: Prosecution’s case left key questions unresolved

With the conclusion of the prosecution's circumstantial case in the Casey Anthony murder trial, several mysteries remain, including how her daughter died and why, and who is Casey Anthony?

By Staff writer / June 16, 2011

Casey Anthony, right, with defense attorney Jose Baez, listens to proceedings during her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, June 15. Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her 2-year old daughter in 2008.

Red Huber/AP

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Prosecutors in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida mother charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, have left fundamental questions about the crime unresolved, even as they announced on Wednesday that the state was resting its case.

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Among the unanswered questions:

How did she die?

Where did she die?

Why did she die?

The answers to these questions may not be critical for the seven women and five men on the jury to ultimately render a guilty verdict. But given that the Orange County State Attorney’s Office is seeking to have Ms. Anthony put to death by lethal injection, those questions would almost certainly arise during lengthy appeals.

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Prosecutors are presenting a theory, based on circumstantial evidence, that Anthony drugged her daughter with chloroform and then smothered her by pressing three pieces of duct tape over her mouth and nose before hiding her body in the trunk of her car and later dumping it in a wooded area.

Presented with gruesome images of Caylee’s skull and skeletal remains, jurors have also been shown photographs of Anthony and Caylee playing happily together, smiling, and laughing. Witnesses testified that Anthony was a responsible, attentive mother.

There is a disconnect at the center of the case. Who is Casey Anthony – a caring mother, a cold-hearted killer – or both?

The trial has attracted a cult-like following of amateur sleuths across the country. Part of the attraction is the growing sense of mystery surrounding the entire messy saga. Testimony during the government’s portion of the trial has only deepened the mystery.

Nothing seems to add up.

Why would a mother wait 31 days before telling her friends, family, or the police that her toddler was missing and allegedly kidnapped by her nanny?

How could a mother whose child had recently died – or worse, was killed by her – pretend that nothing had happened by partying with friends, staying with her new boyfriend, and going on shopping excursions?

What motive would a young mother have to kill her daughter rather than simply ask her parents, Cindy and George Anthony – who adored Caylee – to care for the child, or place her for adoption?

Another scenario

Some analysts have suggested Caylee might have died an accidental death and that Casey Anthony could not bear to admit the tragedy to her mother. Instead, according to this scenario, she hid the body, first in her car and later, once it started to decompose and smell, in the woods near the family’s house.

Anthony had acted in a similar fashion before. About three years earlier, she had exhibited extreme reluctance to tell her mother some shocking news. Casey was seven months pregnant with Caylee before her mother noticed that her daughter’s expanding girth was more than just menstrual bloating, according to Cindy Anthony’s trial testimony.

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