Casey Anthony murder trial: What did her 'Bella Vita' tattoo mean?

Two weeks after her daughter's death, Casey Anthony got a tattoo with the words 'Bella Vita.' Is that a sign she was a remorseless killer seeking the 'Beautiful Life,' or was it a tribute to Caylee?

Red Huber/AP
Casey Anthony murder trial: A photograph of a 'Bella Vita' tattoo that Casey Anthony received while her daughter Caylee was reported missing is displayed on a monitor after being entered into evidence during day 18 of the Casey Anthony murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday.

Two weeks after a Florida mother allegedly killed her two-year-old daughter and dumped the body in a wooded area she paid a tattoo artist $65 to decorate her left shoulder blade with the Italian words “Bella Vita.”

Bobby Williams of Cast Iron Tattoos in Orlando told the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial on Tuesday that Ms. Anthony made an appointment and spent 30 minutes at the shop while he drafted and applied the tattoo in early July 2008.

He said she spent most of the time during the procedure talking on her telephone.

What was Casey Anthony’s demeanor, asked a prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Frank George.

“Normal,” Mr. Williams said. She didn’t seem upset about anything, he added.

“Did she seem happy,” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes. Happy for the most part,” Williams replied.

The comment came near the close of the state’s case against Anthony after three weeks of emotional and gruesome testimony. Prosecutors are expected to finish their presentation of evidence Wednesday morning. The defense case is set to begin on Thursday.

During the cross examination of Williams, defense lawyer Jose Baez suggested that Anthony wanted the tattoo as a tribute to her recently-deceased daughter, Caylee.

The defense lawyer asked Williams whether it was customary that some people get tattoos to remember loved ones who have passed?

“Yes,” Williams answered. “That is common.”

Did you do the tattoos in honor of Caylee for George and Cindy Anthony (Caylee’s grandparents), Baez asked.

Before Williams could answer, prosecutors objected. Judge Belvin Perry sustained the objection.

Baez persisted: Did you do tattoos for any other members of the Anthony family?

“Objection,” the prosecutor said.

“Objection sustained,” the judge repeated.

By introducing the tattoo testimony prosecutors are seeking to portray Anthony not only as an uncaring mother but also as a remorseless killer. They have charged her with first-degree murder and are seeking the death penalty.

The only motive suggested by prosecutors is that Anthony had grown tired of being a mother and wanted to live the “good life,” or “beautiful life,” as symbolized by her tattoo.

Williams testified that Anthony returned to his shop two weeks after receiving the Bella Vita tattoo and made an appointment for her and her boyfriend to get tattoos on July 19, 2008.

What was her mood,” George asked.

“Just normal,” Williams said, “Happy, not seeming to be upset or anything.”

Williams said he had known Anthony for seven years. He said while she was in the shop Anthony mentioned that Caylee was with her nanny that day, but she added that she would bring Caylee with her for the July 19 appointment.

The comment was a lie. Prosecutors say Caylee was already dead – killed June 16, a month earlier, by her mother. Baez has told the jury that Caylee did, in fact, die June 16 but that it was an accidental drowning in the family swimming pool.

He said Anthony’s emotionless response to the tragedy is an outcome of years of sexual abuse by her father.

Prosecutors have presented a different story. In the weeks following Caylee’s disappearance, Anthony spent every night with her new boyfriend. She did not mention the missing child to family or friends, and did not report the disappearance to police until a month later.

The prosecution theory is that Anthony killed her daughter using a combination of chloroform and duct tape. She then allegedly hid the body in her car for several days before dumping it in a wooded area not far form the Anthony family home.

Defense lawyers say that after Caylee accidentally drowned in the swimming pool, Casey Anthony and her father, George, participated in a cover-up, making the death look like a kidnapping and murder.

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