Rebuttal, closing arguments left in Anthony trial

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The prosecution plans to use its rebuttal case Friday to attack testimony offered by Casey Anthony’s mother about computer searches she claims to have made months before her 2-year-old granddaughter first disappeared.

The rebuttal phase of the murder trial comes a day after Anthony’s defense rested without calling her to testify about the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Judge Belvin Perry ruled that electronic time card information from Cindy Anthony’s employer can be introduced by the state to rebut testimony she made earlier. Cindy Anthony previously testified that searches made in March 2008 for “chloroform” and “how to make chloroform” were made by her and not Casey Anthony as the prosecution contends.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in Caylee’s death in the summer of 2008. Evidence of chloroform was found in the trunk of the 25-year-old’s car. Only the state’s rebuttal case and closing arguments remain in the case.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Casey Anthony could get the death penalty.

While the defense rested Thursday, experts say defense attorneys may have left lingering questions and failed to deliver on promises they made at the outset to explain how the toddler died.

Casey Anthony did not take the stand and the defense did not present concrete evidence that Caylee wasn’t killed, but accidentally drowned.

Her attorneys also never produced any witnesses bolstering the claim made in opening statements that Anthony had acted without apparent remorse in the weeks after her daughter’s death because she had been molested by her father as a child, resulting in emotional problems.

“If you do not at least present facts to support that argument, the jury is going to think you have no credibility,” said Tim Jansen, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee. “When you promise the jury something and don’t deliver it you severely handicaps your clients’ case and you undermine your credibility with that jury.”

Instead, their 13-day case primarily focused on poking holes in the prosecution’s contention that Anthony killed Caylee in June 2008 by covering her mouth with duct tape. Prosecutors said the woman dumped Caylee’s body in the woods near her parents’ home and then resumed her life of partying and shopping.

The prosecutors’ case relied on circumstantial and forensic evidence, and it did have holes. They had no witnesses who saw the killing or saw Casey Anthony with her daughter’s body. And there was no certain proof that the child suffocated.

What’s more, prosecution began its rebuttal case late Thursday by continuing to walk through the door opened Wednesday by the defense when it allowed parts of a note Casey Anthony’s father left during a failed suicide attempt to come in. The note included George Anthony asking questions about the death of his granddaughter. Several members of the jury were glued to their monitors as the prosecutor projected the letter for them to read.

“She (Caylee) was found so close to home. Why?” George Anthony wrote at one point in the letter to his family in January 2009.

The defense said in its opening statement that Caylee drowned and that George Anthony, a former police officer, helped cover up the death by making it look like a homicide and dumping the body near their home, where it was found by a meter reader six months later. George Anthony has vehemently denied any involvement in Caylee’s death, the disposal of her body or molesting his daughter.

Florida A&M law professor Karin Moore said she was “confused” throughout the case by the defense’s approach.

“The defense could have attacked George Anthony weeks ago on cross-examination during the state’s case, but waited until late in the trial,” she said. “I think they waited too long to ask the big questions and got themselves in trouble.”

The defense’s final witnesses Thursday included Krystal Holloway, a woman who claims she had an affair with George Anthony that began after Caylee disappeared. She said he told her in November 2008 that Caylee’s death was “an accident that snowballed out of control.” George Anthony has denied having an affair with her but admitted visiting her home on several occasions.

They also recalled George Anthony to ask if he had supplied duct tape he used to put up posters of his granddaughter when she was missing. He said he couldn’t remember.

Lead defense attorney Jose Baez also asked him if he buried his pets after their deaths in plastic bags wrapped with duct tape. Anthony said he had on some occasions. Prosecutors have said Caylee’s body was disposed of in a similar manner. Under prosecution questioning, he said he had never thrown their carcasses in a swamp.

The prosecution began its rebuttal case with photographs of clothing taken at the Anthony home. Court was adjourned for the day later in the afternoon, with prosecutors set to continue Friday.

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Associated Press reporter Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee contributed to this report.

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