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Judgment Nears for Casey Anthony, as Testimony Wraps in Murder Trial

5:34 PM, Jul 1, 2011   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The prosecution wrapped up its rebuttal phase in the Casey Anthony murder trial late Friday afternoon, suggesting judgment was near for the Orlando woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter then lying to authorities.

After an off-day Saturday, both sides will return to court Sunday. Court spokeswoman Karen Connolly Levey said that closing arguments will likely be heard later that day, with deliberations set to continue through July 4 and perhaps beyond.

Orange County Superior Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. dismissed jurors around 5 p.m. by telling them that -- following six long, often emotional weeks of testimony -- no more evidence would be presented.

The judge then heard a defense motion requesting an acquittal. Attorney Cheney Mason said that the prosecution had not sufficiently presented its case -- including exactly how Caylee Anthony had died and at whose hands -- while the prosecution claimed the case was best left in the jury's hands.

Perry sided with the prosecution, a decision that promised the drama and intrigue would continue for at least several more days.

Earlier Friday, prosecutors worked to zero in on Casey Anthony, trying to prove Friday that she -- not her mother -- was the one who searched for chloroform and neck-breaking on the family's home computer.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against the 25-year-old woman if a jury convicts her of first-degree murder. Anthony is charged with seven counts overall, including aggravated child abuse and misleading police, in Caylee's 2008 death.

Prosecutors believe Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter, Caylee, unconscious before taping her nose and mouth with duct tape and disposing of her body in a wooded field near their home.

She has pleaded not guilty. Her defense team has claimed the girl was not killed but instead accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. They say Casey Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked and covered up the death. George Anthony has denied the claim.

Last week, the defendant's mother, Cindy Anthony, testified that she was at home during some of the times highlighted by prosecutors, searching for answers to what was making her dog sick and landing on pages mentioning chloroform as a result. The mother testified that she feared her dog became sick from eating bambo that contained chlorophyll.

She said she also searched for terms such as alcohol, acetone and hydrogen peroxide because she had been told of a scare concerning hand sanitizers and children, as well as searches on various injuries because a friend had been in a car accident.

She denied searching for some of the terms retrieved from the computer, including one misspelled search for "how to make chloraform." She also denied making the 84 visits to one site related to chloroform reflected in the computer records.

The prosecution called several law enforcement forensic computer experts, to raise questions regarding Cindy Anthony's testimony.

Orange County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Kevin Stenger claimed there did not appear to be any searches for chlorophyll or for bamboo, as Cindy Anthony had claimed, though he did say there was a specific Google search for neck breaking. And Detective Sandra Osborne testified there were no evidence of a chlorophyll-specific search on the computer's hard drive, though there was evidence of searches for things such bamboo furniture.

Defense attorney Jose Baez tried to cast doubt on these searches as encompassing everything that Cindy Anthony claimed she'd searched for during her testimony.

The personal attorney for the suspect's parents, Mark Lippman, added in a statement, "My client remains steadfast in her statement that she researched chlorophyll and as a byproduct of that research also researched chloroform."

The lawyer for Anthony's former employer also took the stand Friday, bringing with him work records that he testified showed that someone using Cindy Anthony's credentials logged in and was actively using a desktop computer at her office on the days when those searches were made. Cindy Anthony had claimed she'd done many of the questioned searches in that period from home.

While work records showed she was at the office during some of the searches, she told Baez that it was common to enter eight hours on her time card even if she worked more or less than a full day and said it was "virtually impossible" for her company to have kept e-mails and other records showing whether she was working.

However, Gentiva Health Services chief counsel John Camperlengo told jurors that as a health-care company, Gentiva keeps many records for lenghty periods of time.

He said he provided such records to prosecutors after a June 24 subpoena. The records included e-mails sent under Cindy Anthony's login during that week, as well as a detailed log of computer activity showing someone using Anthony's login was actively updating patient records.

The testimony came after another delay in the trial, when Perry pushed back the start of court so Baez could interview in advance these investigators.

Baez complained at the outset of Friday's session that prosecutors were trying to introduce new evidence that had not been disclosed in reports, as Perry has ordered -- a rule the judge has scolded Baez for violating multiple times during the trial.

"They can't decide to ambush the defense after the defense has rested with new evidence," Baez told Perry.

But prosecutor Jeff Ashton said nothing the witnesses were expected to testify to should have been surprising to Baez.

 

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