In its first day of flailing about, lead defense counsel Jose Baez bored the jury with a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo about DNA, by way of his expert witnesses. His intent was to cast doubt on the state’s circumstantial case against Ms. Anthony by citing the absence of DNA and traces of blood in the Anthony’s Pontiac Sunfire and on various articles of clothing. The prosecution had little need to cross-examine witnesses, except to establish that the lack of blood and DNA did not preclude that a crime had not occurred as per the prosecution’s case.
There were a couple of moments that brought the jury back from their daydreams. Baez’s opening arguments had portended his reliance on the notion that Ms. Anthony had been sexually abused by her father, George, and her brother, Lee, which caused her to live in denial and become a psychopathic liar. During today’s testimony, Baez explored the possibility that Lee had been the actual father of Caylee Anthony. However, the DNA evidence examined by the expert witnesses called by the defense failed to corroborate that allegation.
Many legal experts and regular folks were expecting that Baez would deliver some fireworks today. His opening statement was so dramatically surprising with its drowning and cover-up story that it seemed obvious that he would begin the defense’s case by calling witnesses to support it and the sexual abuse scenario. He disappointed many who had jockeyed for position to get a seat in the courtroom. The boring DNA presentation was not the entertainment they were seeking.
If Baez continues his bumbling, he’ll lose the jury completely.
What about the OCD?
People are certainly addicted to these high-profile trials, but some of the non-addicted ones are still in the running for the Casey/ISAG incompetence award. One guy posted a self-righteous, “Oh, is that trial still going on? I refuse to watch it” comment in a Facebook thread about the trial. When the proprietress of the thread, a paralegal herself, said that it was actually quite interesting, the pious prick reiterated his position: he refused to watch it. So, I asked, “Why the hell did you bother to comment on it?” Guess he wanted to spread the word that he didn’t have the derangement syndrome like the rest of us, but posting there was a self-indictment if anything.
In Central Florida, essentially, a seven county area surrounding Orlando, it is almost impossible to escape the tentacles of the the “Casey Trial”. This brings back memories of the famous O.J. trial in Los Angeles. The audience is concentrated more locally, but both trials have provided a form of entertainment that mesmerizes people from all the social strata. All of the major local TV stations cover the trial live, with a remote-operated pool camera providing the video. Also, the TV stations are publishing a live video stream on their web sites, as is the local newsrag. CNN’s HLN channel is also providing live coverage. Media pseudo-wonks such as Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Grace, and Greta Van Susteren are camped out here, anxious to advance their theories so they can brag about how correct they were. The audience is steadily increasing, but here in Central Florida, it was here from the start. It drones on TVs, radios, and Internet connected computers virtually everywhere one goes.
A friend, knowing that I would be away most of the day tomorrow, reminded me to record the trial coverage for the day so I wouldn’t miss anything. I told her that I would be watching it on my Android phone, so there was no need to record it. She told me that she had an Android phone, too, and wanted to know how to do it. It is easy. Just open up one of the TV station’s websites in the built-in browser, and navigate to the live coverage. You’re in! My friend checked it out, found that it worked, and became excited over the prospect of not having to be separated from the action. “There goes your productivity!” I said.
Cheap entertainment for troubled times.
My informal polling of friends, associates, and strangers has concluded. Most people want to see Casey go down for the crime they’ve already convicted her of having committed. It is very hard to believe that a mother could have treated a child in such a manner, but they’re ready to conclude that Ms. Anthony is a lying psychopath, and they want to see her punished for it. However, even if the verdict goes their way, it might be a long time before they can he served their vindictive dish. Being a capital murder case, the appeals can go on and on.
One big question as Baez continues to bumble through his witnesses is whether Ms. Anthony will testify. This, of course, would be a dangerous ploy. Having admitted that she is “such a great liar”, she is likely to add perjury to her other major offenses, but the real danger is that she reveals the inconsistencies in the defense’s case under cross-examination. For that reason, it is doubtful that Baez will call her to the witness stand, unless he is truly desperate.
Because the State of Florida’s case is entirely circumstantial, it might fail to get a conviction for the original charge of first degree murder. A second degree or manslaughter conviction is a possibility. Those who would like to see Ms. Anthony get the lethal needle or rot away the rest of her life in a state penitentiary without parole will be sorely disappointed if she is convicted of a lesser charge. And if she is acquitted — oy! There could be riots. People are always looking for an excuse to riot these days to vent their frustration. Right, Vancouver?
Bottom line — it might be cheap and dirty entertainment, but around here, one can walk up to a stranger on the street and instantly have something to talk about. That’s remarkable in itself.
José, can you see?
I see Ms. Anthony sitting there in court and wonder if she sees the same Baez as we do. She hired him, putting her life in his hands. Is she not growing a bit concerned about his blundering naivete? Baez has been at the bar for a mere five years and has had only three years experience at criminal defense. The one murder case he defended wound up with a conviction. Baez brought together a team — a somewhat lesser team than the O.J. “dream team” — but he has not managed it well, as I’ve stated in previous posts. He obviously wants the limelight mainly to himself. That’s going to screw up the defense.
Cheney Mason sits there largely unused. The defense would have benefited by more of this experienced criminal defense attorney’s haughty cross-examination and less of Baez’s passionless questioning. Now, it seems that there are rumors of friction between Mason and Baez, especially over Baez’s insistence in laying out his case in great detail in his opening arguments, a blunder in Mason’s opinion. Mason’s frustration with Baez’s tactics can be seen in the following transcript excerpt from a sidebar conference dealing with allowing the jury to hear testimony from the prosecution about the fact that animals had chewed on bones of the decedent.
Defense attorney Cheney Mason: “Talking about animal chewing is not probative of any issue in this case … It’s scandalous or shocking and emotional, but it doesn’t prove anything. There’s no question that the child is dead, that these are her bones. But to start talking about animal chewing, I think is inflammatory and we object to it.”
Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton: “It is my understanding that the defense’s position is that these bones were moved, placed into this location at some later date. The fact that the bones were scattered by animals and chewed on is probative of the length of time that they had been present.”
Judge Perry: “Well, but for your argument and suggestion that somebody kept the bones and moved them about, I would sustain your objection. But in view of the fact that that’s your theory, that Mr. [Roy] Kronk took the bones and took them somewhere and kept them, it has relevancy in that standpoint.”
Soon after, the parties discussed what defense attorney Jose Baez said regarding Kronk during his opening statement. Mason reminds the others that Baez said “the bones were dragged and moved.”
Later he adds, “Does it prove that defense counsel made an opening statement decision that may have not been prudent? Perhaps.”
Perry said, “Before Mr. Baez made his statement, I told you I would…sustain the objection,” Perry said. “But when you talk about somebody moved and kept bones for the purpose of getting a reward, I mean … it’s a whole line of questioning that you’ve just opened a can of worms up on.”
Then Mason asked whether the Baez opening statement opened the door to all of this.
Perry responded by saying Baez had questioned a crime scene investigator and a deputy about this long after his opening statement.
At this point Baez says, “The gnawing of bones does not – does not give any indication as to how long remains would be there.”
But Perry ultimately said, “animal activity has to do something with the timeline in this case … it’s an issue that the defense raised.”
Blunder. Perry overruled the defense’s objection to showing the jury the evidence, which had to be disturbing.
Will there be changes on the dysfunctional dream team? At this late juncture, one has to doubt it, but for you and me this is only conversation fodder; for Ms. Anthony, it is her life.