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Casey Anthony defense tries to put Florida prosecutors on trial

Defense attorneys for Casey Anthony are seeking to put the prosecution on trial, alleging an at times incompetent investigation into Caylee's death. The tactic could be working with some jurors.

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At several points Perry has condemned what he termed “gamesmanship” and rivalry among the lawyers during the trial.

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When a potential witness from a DNA laboratory in the Netherlands, Richard Eikelenboom, presented himself at the state attorney’s office last weekend for a possible deposition in advance of his expected testimony this week, Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton refused to see him. He told him to go away.

Mr. Ashton has sought to block portions of Mr. Eikelenboom’s testimony because he says the defense did not comply with a court order in December to fully disclose all opinions that each expert witness would offer at the trial.

Baez says he sought to comply with the order but that a trial is a dynamic process and he is trying to respond to unexpected issues. The judge said his order was clear and that Baez had willfully violated it.

The judge's unusual punishment

As punishment, immediately before Eikelenboom began his testimony on Tuesday, Perry gave a special instruction to the jury that certain reports outlining the witness’s testimony had not been delivered prior to a court-imposed deadline and that as a result the jury “may consider this in considering the credibility of the witness.”

Such an instruction is highly unusual, particularly in a death-penalty case. A witness’s credibility usually speaks for itself without any pretestimony demerits assigned by a trial judge seeking to punish a defense attorney.

The punishment did not stop there. The judge also barred Baez from questioning Eikelenboom about the possibility of obtaining DNA profiles from a stain in the trunk of Anthony’s car. Prosecutors have suggested that the stain is from fluid that leaked from Caylee’s decomposing body onto the carpet lining the trunk. FBI tests found no DNA. And the state did not seek to perform more sophisticated tests.

Eikelenboom was expected to say that using the more advanced techniques in his lab, such testing might be possible. That testimony could be important to the defense because it would suggest the state has been less than diligent in using available science to help prove its case. At the same time it would highlight the circumstantial and speculative nature of some of the state’s evidence against Anthony.

Despite that pending issue, Eikelenboom was permitted to testify in general about DNA testing. He told the jury that even though the duct tape found with Caylee’s remains was severely weathered, with his techniques “you could expect to still find DNA.”

Pioneer of 'touch DNA'

Eikelenboom is best known in the DNA community as a pioneer in the detection of “touch DNA” – skin cells left behind by an assailant or criminal as a result of rough-handling during criminal activity.

In 2006, Mr. Eikelenboom helped free an innocent man serving a life sentence in Colorado for a murder he didn’t commit. After re-creating precisely how the victim was dragged into a field by her killer, Eikelenboom and his laboratory were able to identify “touch DNA” on the victim’s shirt 20 years after the crime.

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