Casey Anthony trial's new twist: Mother says she searched for 'chloroform'
The prosecution in the Casey Anthony trial had argued Casey sought information on chloroform before using it to drug her daughter. But Cindy Anthony said she searched for chloroform on the family computer.
In a surprising development, Casey Anthony’s mother testified on Thursday that she conducted Internet searches using the word “chloroform” on the days and times prosecutors allege that Casey Anthony searched for that word as part of a premeditated plot to murder her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.Skip to next paragraph
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“I started looking up chlorophyll and that prompted me to look up cholorform,” Cindy Anthony, Casey’s mother, told a stunned courtroom.
In testimony filled with unexpected twists and turns, the mother also told defense attorney Jose Baez that the stain in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car was present when the vehicle was purchased in 2000 – eight years before prosecutors allege the stain was caused by leaking fluid from Caylee’s decomposing body.
The riveting testimony prompted immediate speculation that Mrs. Anthony may have altered earlier statements she made to detectives and prosecutors in an effort to help create reasonable doubt in her daughter’s first-degree murder trial. A family lawyer later said her testimony is consistent with all her prior statements in the case.
Her statements, on the seventh day of the defense case and the 26th day of the trial, represent a serious setback to the prosecution’s case. Her comments are an assault on two pillars of the state’s theory of Ms. Anthony’s guilt: that she used chloroform and that she kept Caylee’s decomposing body in the trunk of the car.
Prosecutors have presented a circumstantial case based on the theory that Ms. Anthony drugged her daughter with chloroform and smothered her by pressing duct tape over her mouth and nose. She then allegedly placed the girl in the trunk of her car for several days before dumping the body in a wooded area not far from the Anthony family home.
The state has offered no direct physical evidence linking Ms. Anthony to Caylee’s death.
Mrs. Anthony’s testimony is important for a second reason: Among all the players in the wider drama surrounding the trial and alleged crime, Mrs. Anthony is by far the most sympathetic figure.
There is no doubt that she adored her granddaughter, was crushed by her death, and is still grieving. In earlier testimony during the state’s case, the judge had to call a special recess to allow her to try to compose herself after she began sobbing on the witness stand. During her last trip to the stand she supposedly turned toward Ms. Anthony and mouthed the words, “I love you.”
On cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick attempted to undercut Mrs. Anthony’s testimony, suggesting that her employment records indicate that she had been at work – not at home on the family’s desktop computer – on the days the Internet “chloroform” searches were conducted.
“Were you at home March 17, 2008 between 1:43 and 1:55 p.m.,” Ms. Burdick asked forcefully.
“If those computer entries were made, then I was home,” Mrs. Anthony replied, her voice rising to meet the force of Burdick’s question. “That week was Casey’s birthday and our anniversary and I went home early a couple days.”