Casey Anthony Trial: Closing arguments end with Bella Vita tattoo

12:12 PM, Jul 4, 2011   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Florida -- Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick ended closing arguments in the Casey Anthony murder trial Monday with a picture of the "Bella Vita" tattoo Casey Anthony got while Caylee was missing, and asking who benefited from Caylee's death.

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"Bella Vita" means "Beautiful Life" in Italian. When Burdick sat down, lead defense attorney Jose Baez immediately asked for a mistrial based on improper statements by the state in closing arguments. Judge Belvin Perry denied the request.

Closing arguments in the Casey Anthony murder trial spilled over to a second day after hours of contentious arguments on Sunday.

Crime Scene Photos: Pictures from where Caylee Anthony's body was found (Caution: Some pictures may be considered graphic)

More Pictures: Click here to see the photos Casey Anthony doesn't want you to see (Caution: pics contain some adult material, including drinking and partial nudity)

Perry opted to hold court on Independence Day when closing arguments approached 7 p.m. the day before and he decided to send the jurors home for the night.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton began his rebuttal argument just after 8:30 a.m.

"Defense counsel offered a very appropriate and aggressive attack on the science," Ashton said.

Ashton said it is up to the jurors which experts they want to believe.

In his closing arguments, lead defense attorney Jose Baez described the state's evidence as a "fantasy of forensics." Specifically targeting medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia. Defense expert Dr. Werner Spitz said Garavaglia botched Caylee Anthony's autopsy.

Ashton defended Garavaglia's testimony. He said it is extremely rare for a skull and mandible to be attached after a body decomposed, which Caylee's was. Ashton said the only viable explanation is that duct tape had been placed on Caylee's face before she decomposed.

"That tape had to have been on that skull before she decomposed," Ashton said.

In his closing arguments on Sunday, Ashton said Casey Anthony killed Caylee by strategically placing three pieces of duct tape over Caylee's mouth and nose, causing her to suffocate.

Spitz proposed that someone at a later point had reached down, picked up the skull and mandible and put them back together with duct tape.

Ashton called Spitz's testimony "non credible" and inconsistent with defense theories, but said it is up to jurors to decide
Spitz also testified that it was sloppy of Garavaglia not to saw open Caylee's skull, but when Ashton pressed him on this, Spitz was unable to give any example of written protocol that medical examiner's should saw open a skull under these circumstances.

Two state experts testified that it is unnecessary and excessive to saw open a skull.

Spitz also testified that residue of brain decomposition was found in Caylee's skull, but Ashton said Dr. Bruce Goldberger had already washed the inside of Caylee's skull, tested it and found no evidence of decomposition.

"His fund of information about this case is not sufficient to make his testimony credible," Ashton said.

Ashton then moved on to the entomological evidence in the case, which Baez had also refuted during his closing arguments.

Ashton bolstered the testimony of state entomological expert Dr. Neal Haskell, citing his decades of experience, versus three years of experience for the defense's expert, Dr. Tim Huntington.

Ashton noted that both entomologists agreed that Caylee began decomposing in a different location than where she was later found in a wooded area off Suburban Drive, less than a quarter-mile from the Anthony family's east Orange County home.

The experts disagreed over whether Caylee had begun decomposing in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car. Haskell believed that Caylee spent several days in the trunk, but Huntington disagreed, based on a lack of evidence of early colonizing insects in the trunk. Haskell said the trunk kept the bugs out.

Ashton then began discussing chloroform evidence that had been refuted by Baez.

Baez harshly criticized the testimony of Dr. Arpad Vass, of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Vass testified that chloroform levels from air samples taken from the trunk of Casey Anthony's car was surprisingly high. He also said the air samples showed compounds consistent with human decomposition.

Ashton emphasized that there should not have been any chloroform in the trunk at all, but there was.

The next topic attacked by the defense that Ashton addressed was the smell of human decomposition in the trunk.

Baez criticized Vass, saying that he was pushing his "sniffer" device that indicated human decomposition in an air sample in order to make money off the sale of the device.

Ashton said the device was designed for use by the military and law enforcement. He said Vass would split 15 percent of the amount of the sale of the device with his co-inventors only if the device was purchased by someone in the private sector. He described Vass as an unapologetic geek who is interested in the science.

Defense expert Dr. Kenneth Furton said the decomposition in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car was not necessarily human, and could have been a result of the trash that was also found in the trunk.

No DNA was found on the duct tape found on Caylee's skull, a point Baez brought up on Monday, but Ashton said experts agree it would be highly unlikely to find DNA on the duct tape after Caylee's body had fully decomposed in a Florida swamp for six months.

Baez also challenged a state expert witness' testimony that hair banding found on hairs in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car indicated they had come from a decomposing body.

"To say that there is no evidence to connect Casey Anthony to Caylee's death ignores all of this evidence," Ashton said.

During his closing arguments, Baez repeatedly brought up reasonable doubt, and reminded jurors that if they had any, they could not responsibly find Casey Anthony guilty.

Ashton said both sides agree that the duct tape found on Caylee's face came from the Anthony family home, but the defense suggested that the duct tape belonged to Casey Anthony's father, and was linked to him, not Casey Anthony.

"People don't make accidents look like murder. That's absurd," Ashton said.

Baez objected to Ashton's statement and the objection was sustained. The comment was stricken from the record and the jury was told to disregard.

Ashton criticized the defense's theory that Caylee drowned and George Anthony had placed duct tape on her face and disposed of her body on June 16, 2008. He said the defense implied that when George Anthony reported gas cans, which had the same Henkel duct tape on them that was found on Caylee, stolen on June 24, it was part of a nefarious plot to implicate Casey Anthony in Caylee's death.

Ashton said the theory does not make sense.

"George Anthony had absolutely no idea that that roll of Henkel duct tape had anything to do with the death of his granddaughter," Ashton said.

Ashton said George Anthony denied that he knew Caylee drowned, or that he had found her dead in the family pool. Ashton said Casey Anthony rejected that theory as well by choosing not to testify.

Ashton then rejected Baez's allegations that the scene where Caylee's remains were found on Dec. 11, 2008, was staged.

"This scene was staged by mother nature, and no one else," Ashton said.

Ashton cited the leaf litter and vine growth all over the area, including vines that had grown into bone.

Ashton defended meter reader Roy Kronk, who found Caylee's remains. Baez attacked Kronk because he had reported finding a possible skull in August 2008 in the same location that he found Caylee's remains in December. Kronk said he was blown off by the deputy sent out to investigate, and didn't bother reporting it again until he was in the area again.

Baez accused Kronk of taking Caylee's body home, and staging it later in the woods to obtain reward money. Ashton said Kronk simply enjoys a good story, but it does not make him a "morally bankrupt" man, as Baez had said.

Ashton then went on to outline the charges against Casey Anthony.

Ashton said the prosecution has proven that Casey Anthony is guilty of first-degree murder. He said the criteria for that is that Caylee is dead, as a result of a criminal act by Casey Anthony and that the act was premeditated.

Ashton laid out different scenarios the jurors may believe regarding how Caylee died.

"Any way you slice it, Casey Anthony is guilty of murder in the first degree in this case," Ashon said.

Ashton began discussing George Anthony. He said the jurors have seen hours of recorded jail conversations between George Anthony and his daughter.

Ashton said there is nothing in those videos that show anything other than a caring father and grandfather.

"Throughout all these conversations he is supportive, he is helpful to Casey, he is loving to her. She even says to him on more than one occasion when he expresses guilt that he is a great dad, a great grandfather," Ashton said.

Ashton said nothing in the tapes suggest George Anthony was setting up his daughter. He said most of the friction occurred between Casey Anthony and her mother, Cindy Anthony.

"George Anthony is not this Machiavellian, self-interested monster that the defense has suggested," Ashton said.

As Ashton made this comment, Casey Anthony could be seen mouthing something in response.

Ashton said George Anthony's suicide note was written by a man in pain, who just wanted to know what happened to his granddaughter. He tried to commit suicide in January 2009, one month after Caylee's remains were found.

Ashton concluded his part of the rebuttal by thanking the jurors for their sacrifice and wishing them well.

Burdick then stepped up to speak to the jurors in the final part of closing arguments in the trial.

"The state of Florida in this case has proven every element of every charge in this indictment against Casey Anthony," Burdick said.

Burdick said that Baez's biggest fear was that jurors would make decisions based on emotion, but Burdick said no one is asking them to do that.

Although this case is certainly emotionally charged, we won't ask you to make decisions based on anything but the testimony from the witnesses and the exhibits you will be ask to consider once you begin deliberating," Burdick said.

"My biggest fear is that common sense will be lost in all of the rhetoric of the case," Burdick said. "That you won't step back and take a look at the evidence as a whole. You have to look at the big picture here."

Burdick reminded jurors of Baez calling Casey Anthony a liar on numerous occasions in his closing argument. She said lying perverts the criminal justice process.

"As we have come to find out, accusing others of lying is classic Casey Anthony. When Casey Anthony wants to divert attention away from herself, she accuses others," Burdick said. "As we have heard from the evidence, Ms. Anthony has spent years lying. Has spent 31 days ... Mr. Baez suggested those 31 days mean nothing."

Caylee was not reported missing until July 15, 2008, 31 days after she was last seen alive.

"The allegation of a false abduction diverts resources away from the perpetrator. Diverts attention away from the perpetrator. Buys the perpetrator more time," Burdick said.

Casey Anthony initially told investigators Caylee had been abducted by her nanny and that she was conducting her own investigation during those 31 days.

Burdick said law enforcement did not have a reason to smell Casey Anthony's car the night of July 16 because at that time, they had no reason to believe Caylee was dead -- Casey Anthony was asking law enforcement to help her find her daughter. She said Casey Anthony was buying time with law enforcement.

Burdick said the prosecution's detailing of what Casey Anthony was doing while Caylee was missing was not an attempt to paint her as a slut, as Baez had accused during his closing arguments, but that the prosecution was proving that Casey Anthony was not conducting her own investigation as she had claimed.

Burdick said every single thing Casey Anthony told law enforcement, except that Caylee was born Aug. 9, 2005, was a lie.

"Responses to grieve may vary, but responses to guilt are oh-so predictable," Burdick said. "Guilty people lie. They avoid. They run. They mislead -- not just their family, but the police. They divert attention from themselves and they act like nothing is wrong."

Burdick said the way Casey Anthony behaved was not someone who was grieving over the accidental death of their child.

"The question is no longer, 'what happened to Caylee Anthony.' We know what happened to Caylee. The question is, 'Who killed Caylee?'" Burdick said. "For the longest time, Caylee was alive. Nobody killed Caylee, Caylee was alive, until her remains were found. As I told you, as I warned you in opening statement, as the facts and circumstances changed over the course of time, the defendant's lied changed. They got bigger. They got better. They involved more people. Mr. Baez would have you believe that there must be something wrong with Casey Anthony because she has "imaginary friends." Those weren't imaginary friends, those were lies. Every one of them was a lie."

Burdick said the people Casey Anthony created were lies designed to get Casey Anthony out of trouble.

Burdick said Casey Anthony changed the lie that Caylee was alive and had been kidnapped when her remains were found, and the theory changed that there was some sort of accident that led to Caylee's death.

"You know that Caylee Anthony's death was no accident," Burdick said.

Burdick then played audio of an interview between investigators and Casey Anthony in July 2008 where she was asked if it was any chance Caylee died by accident, and Casey Anthony stuck by her kidnapping story.

Burdick played a video of Casey Anthony in a jailhouse visit with her parents. When Cindy Anthony said the media suggested that Caylee could have drowned, Casey responded, "Surprise, surprise."

Burdick said other people's description of Casey Anthony as a good mother came from people who only briefly saw Casey Anthony interact with Caylee and did not have children of their own. She said, of course Caylee loved Casey Anthony, she was her mother.

Burdick said Caylee was healthy, happy and well-fed because of her grandparents, not because Casey Anthony was a good mother.

"What amazing parent acts with complete indifference to the accidental death of their child?" Burdick said.

"If this truly were an accident in the pool, Caylee would have been found floating in the pool , not floating in a swamp down the street," Burdick said.

Burdick said if George Anthony had found Caylee, he would have called 911 and tried CPR. She said he never would have put her in a bag and thrown her in the woods.

Burdick said the way Caylee's body was disposed of speaks volumes about what the person who disposed of her really thought of her.

Burdick then re-played a call made by Casey Anthony from jail to her mother where she criticized her mother for going on the news and then demanded she provide her with her boyfriend's cellphone number. Casey Anthony said she didn't want any of her family to come to her first bond hearing.

"I can't sit here and be crying every two seconds. I can't," Casey Anthony said when asked if she was lying, and why she is reacting the way she was by a family friend. "They (the Anthony family) just want Caylee back, that's all their worried about right now."

After the call was over, Burdick said the call shows clearly that Casey Anthony is a pathological liar, who was only focused on seeing and talking to her boyfriend, the same thing she was focused on during the month that Caylee was missing.

"Casey Anthony is the only person who had access to every single piece of evidence discussed by Mr. Ashton today and yesterday," Burdick said.

"Someone in that house killed Caylee Anthony. They want you to believe George was involved int he cover up of an accident. That did not happen," Burdick said.

Burdick said, at the end of the case, the question is, "Whose life was better without Caylee?"

She then played the frantic 911 call made by Cindy Anthony on July 15, 2008, to report Caylee missing.

"It smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car," Cindy Anthony said in the call after telling the dispatcher her granddaughter had been kidnapped.

Burdick ended her argument by showing a photo of the tattoo Casey Anthony got while Caylee was missing.

Following the state's rebuttal argument, the jury is expected to receive its instructions and begin deliberating to determine Casey Anthony's guilt on seven individual charges.

Only 12 of the 17 jurors brought in from Pinellas County will participate in deliberations. Five of the jurors are not yet aware that they are alternates.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

Anthony also is charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. The child abuse and manslaughter charges each carry a 30-year prison term if she's convicted.

Related: Jurors in the Casey Anthony trial

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