Prosecutors nearly finished in Casey Anthony trial
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors said Monday they are almost finished presenting their evidence in the murder trial of Casey Anthony, who is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter nearly three years ago.
Jurors heard testimony from two more FBI forensic experts as the trial entered its fourth week and the state continued to try to link toddler Caylee Anthony's decomposing remains to her mother.
A hair and fiber expert testified that a strand of hair found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car could have fallen from the child's head during the movement of her dead body. Another expert, who tested for fingerprints on three strips of duct tape found attached to the toddler's decomposed skull, said that she observed a heart-shaped outline on one of the pieces.
Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter and faces a death sentence if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors contend Anthony suffocated Caylee with duct tape, while the defense says she drowned in her grandparents' pool.
The child was not reported missing for 31 days. Her remains were found in a wooded area near the Anthony home in December 2008.
The experts were the lone witnesses called on Monday. Judge Belvin Perry recessed for the day just after noon because the prosecution said their next witness wouldn't arrive until Tuesday.
The state has also notified Perry that it could conclude its case as early as Wednesday. Depending on the length of the defense's case, Perry told the jury he thinks they could begin deliberating during the last week of June.
"So far we are ahead of schedule," Perry told them, while noting it was just an estimate at this point.
The first witness of the day, fiber investigator Stephen Shaw, told jurors he analyzed the single hair found in Casey Anthony's trunk and compared it to samples found with Caylee Anthony's skull.
Shaw testified that he saw more evidence of human decomposition on the hairs taken from the child's remains than on the hair found in the trunk. That suggests that if there were a body in Anthony's trunk, it wasn't there for very long.
He also said he found the same microscopic characteristics for the skull hair as the trunk hair, but could not say they definitely were a match.
But Perry ruled that prosecutors could not show jurors an electronic presentation of the hair analysis that would have been more detailed than verbal testimony and shown a visual representation of hair decomposition.
Perry said he found it troubling that the contents of the study were not shared with defense attorneys ahead of time. Jurors waited outside the courtroom for about 20 minutes while the issue was settled.
Defense attorney Jose Baez also later got Shaw to say on cross-examination that exposure to the elements could cause scientists to misidentify the presence of decomposition in hair.
FBI physical scientist Elizabeth Fontaine said that her examination of duct tape found at the crime scene didn't yield any latent fingerprints. But she testified that she did notice the outline of a heart on one of the three pieces while examining it under ultra-violet lighting.
There were no pictures taken of what she saw, though. After subjecting the tape to chemicals during further fingerprint testing, it was no longer present.
The prosecution said in their opening statement that they believe the outline was a heart-shaped sticker.
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