Casey Anthony trial: Records undercut mother's testimony on Internet search
The prosecution in the Casey Anthony trial introduced records from Cindy Anthony's employer indicating she was not the one using the home computer to search for information on chloroform.
Casey Anthony’s mother could not have performed home computer searches for “chloroform” on the dates and times she suggested in testimony last week, according to records introduced by prosecutors on Friday at the Casey Anthony murder trial.
The disclosure completely undercuts Cindy Anthony’s surprising testimony on June 23 that it was she – not her daughter – who conducted Internet searches for chloroform on the family’s home computer in March 2008.
The dramatic reversal came as prosecutors concluded their rebuttal case, bringing the evidence and testimony portion of the month-long trial to a formal end. Chief Judge Belvin Perry said closing arguments would begin Sunday morning.
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Mrs. Anthony’s earlier testimony was important because prosecutors allege that Casey Anthony used chloroform to subdue her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, before pressing pieces of duct tape over the toddler’s mouth and nose to suffocate her.
Many analysts had speculated that Cindy Anthony was shading the truth – and risking a potential perjury charge – in an effort to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors and save her daughter from a spot on Florida’s death row.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick had questioned how Mrs. Anthony could be home in the middle of the afternoon when payroll records from her employer showed that she had been at work when the Internet searches were conducted.
Mrs. Anthony said that, as a salaried employee who often worked overtime without pay, she had the freedom to go home early although her pay records would reflect a full day at work.
Shortly after Mrs. Anthony’s testimony, Ms. Burdick had investigators contact the employer.
The subpoenaed records were delivered by John Camperlengo, general counsel of Gentiva, the home health care company that employed Mrs. Anthony in March 2008.
Prosecutors sought production of the documents to prove that it was impossible for Cindy Anthony to conduct Google Internet searches on her home computer for chloroform on March 17 and March 21 in the middle of the afternoon because she was at work on both days.
Prosecutors argue that the searches were conducted by Casey when her parents weren’t home. The searches sought information about chloroform and the words “how to make chloroform.”
Computer forensic experts said the searches were conducted between 1:43 p.m. and 1:55 p.m. on March 17 and between 2:16 p.m. and 2:28 p.m. on March 21.
In her June 23 testimony, Mrs. Anthony was asked if she was home from work at those precise times. “It is possible,” she replied, twice.
“Were you, or weren’t you,” Burdick asked.
“If I had access to my work computer I could tell you when I left that day,” she replied.
Documents obtained from Gentiva show that someone was logged in on a Gentiva computer as Cindy Anthony and was updating computerized patient files at Cindy Anthony’s workstation in Winter Park, Fla., from 1:41 p.m. until 2:22 p.m. on March 17, and from 2:22 p.m. to 4:06 p.m. on March 21.
Mr. Camperlengo testified that the records were accurate and that they indicated that Mrs. Anthony was present in the company’s office on those dates and those times.
Mrs. Anthony had justified her “chloroform” search with the explanation that she intended to search for “chlorophyll” and that “chloroform” was suggested as an alternative search. She said she was worried that her dogs were eating bamboo leaves and wanted to learn more about chlorophyll to see if it might make them sick. She also said she was concerned about the use of hand sanitizers around young children like her granddaughter, Caylee.
Two computer forensic examiners from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office testified that they searched the Anthony’s home computer – including the section of the hard drive containing deleted files – for the words chlorophyll, hand sanitizer, and bamboo. They told the jury they found nothing for “chlorophyll” and “sanitizer,” and under “bamboo” they discovered items related to furniture, lanterns, floors, and tiki bars, but nothing about bamboo leaves.
At the close of the state’s case, Judge Perry asked defense attorney Jose Baez whether he wanted to put Mrs. Anthony back on the witness stand. The defense declined.
Also on Friday, defense attorney Cheney Mason renewed an earlier motion for a mistrial based on prosecutors introducing a video animation showing a photo of Caylee’s face superimposed over her skull with a piece of duct tape positioned over the mouth and nose.
Defense attorneys say there is no evidence of when the duct tape was applied to the toddler’s face and whether it was applied over both the mouth and the nose, or a different portion of the face.
Judge Perry denied the motion.
He also denied a renewed defense motion for judgment of acquittal. Such motions are routinely made by defense counsel prior to closing arguments and are routinely denied by trial judges. Judge Perry cited no reasons for denying both motions.
Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter. Prosecutors allege that Ms. Anthony hid Caylee’s body in the trunk of her car for several days before dumping it a wooded area a quarter-mile from the family home.
Defense lawyers say Caylee died in a swimming pool accident and that Casey panicked. They say she and her father, George, tried to cover up the death.
George Anthony denies any knowledge of how his granddaughter died and denies any involvement in a cover up.