Midpoint in Casey Anthony trial: Judge rejects defense motion to dismiss

The prosecution rests in the Casey Anthony trial, and the defense calls for a dismissal, saying all that has been proved is that Caylee is dead and Casey tells lies. The judge says there's enough evidence for a jury to consider.

Red Huber/Reuters
Chief judge Belvin Perry listens to a motion for acquittal from the defense during day 19 of Casey Anthony's 1st -degree murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, on June 15.

After 19 days of testimony and the introduction of more than 130 pieces of evidence, state prosecutors rested their case Wednesday in the trial of Casey Anthony, a Florida mother accused of killing her two-year-old daughter.

Defense attorneys immediately attacked the quality of the state’s case, urging Chief Judge Belvin Perry to dismiss murder, manslaughter, and child abuse charges against Ms. Anthony.

Defense attorney Cheney Mason told the court the state had managed to prove only two things during the past three weeks of trial – that the child, Caylee, was dead, and that his client had a history of telling lies.

What prosecutors had failed to prove, he said, was that Casey Anthony planned and carried out a premeditated murder. “In this case there is no evidence of anything other than a caring, loving, mother-child relationship,” he said.

Mr. Mason made the comments during a hearing in the Orlando courtroom after the jury was dismissed for the day.

“There is no evidence to establish when the child died, other than a monthly window of possibility, where she died, how she died, who, if anyone, was with her in attendance when she died,” Mr. Mason said.

“There has been in this case no evidence of premeditation,” he added. “There has been a stacking of inferences, a stacking of speculation, but not evidence.”

In response, Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick said the state had successfully debunked Anthony’s claims in 2008 that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny. In addition, the prosecutor said the medical examiner and Anthony’s father, George, had rebutted the suggestion that Caylee died accidentally in the family’s swimming pool.

“It is our position that a jury in this case can reasonably conclude that Caylee Marie Anthony died from the application of three pieces of duct tape to her nose and mouth,” Ms. Burdick said.

The prosecutor added that the jury could also conclude that she died from poisoning from chloroform, or from a combination of both chloroform and the duct tape.

Burdick said the jury could also conclude from evidence already presented at the trial that Anthony’s motive in the premeditated murder of her daughter was the challenging relationship she had with her mother, Cindy.

“The relationship of Mrs. [Cindy] Anthony and her daughter [Casey] did provide a motive for Casey Anthony to eliminate the child,” Burdick told the judge. She did not elaborate.

Such mid-trial motions for acquittal are routinely denied. After considering the arguments for 45 minutes in his chambers, Judge Perry returned to the bench and denied the defense request.

“The state has established substantial competent evidence for the jury – which is the trier of fact in this case – to decide,” he said.

The action set the stage for the defense to begin presenting its case Thursday morning.

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