José Baez’s defense of Casey Anthony ended with a decidedly canine whimper instead of the much ballyhooed potential bang of the skanky defendant taking the stand. It says a lot for this trial when the featured event of the day involved a 28-year old chain restaurant waiter who flipped off prosecutor Jeff Ashton from the gallery during the trial and was summarily fined and sentenced to serve prison time by no-nonsense Judge Belvin Perry.
The first defense witness was River Cruz (née Krystal Holloway), who claimed she had a down and dirty affair with handsome George Anthony. He had strongly denied any such thing in prior testimony. Baez attempted to elicit testimony from Ms. Cruz that George had admitted that Caylee Anthony’s death “was an unfortunate accident gone out of control”, but under cross-examination, Cruz could not put the finger on George. Whether he laid a finger on her is moot, although a potential negative perception of Mr. Anthony could introduce doubt into jury deliberations.
Other witnesses were pretty dull until we entered the “dead dog” phase of the defense strategy. At this point, Baez called each of the Anthonys (sans Casey) to testify about the manner in which their dead pets had been wrapped and taped prior to burial. I found this to be highly disrespectful to the dearly departed doggies. How would you like to be taking your eternal dirt nap with people talking about how they wrapped you in plastic garbage bags secured by duct tape? I doubt that the jury would spend so much as a minute discussing the relationship between a duct taped dead doggie and little Caylee’s traumatic death. If Baez was trying to prove that Caylee’s death was an accident and that she received the same treatment as beloved family canines when they went to that great fire hydrant in the sky, how bizzare! Who the hell is going to buy that?
The court recessed for lunch at 11:30 and would resume at 1:30. This unusually long lunch break caused a buzz among the media vultures who, after the dead doggy testimony, were desperate for a story. Could Casey be going to take the stand? They rushed out to see who was having lunch with whom, and to glean what they could glean.
At 1:30, Ms. Anthony was seen signing several papers and discussing them animatedly with members of the defense team. This was all that the TV people needed to see to conclude some or all of the following must be true:
- Casey was going to testify and she was signing papers to absolve counsel of responsibility, as she was testifying against their advice
- Casey was not going to testify, and she was signing papers to indicate that she made that decision of her own volition
- Casey was probably in the midst of the defense cooking up a plea deal (huh?)
The document Ms. Anthony was signing turned out to be a routine stipulation (or as Judge Perry would call it, a “stippalation”). The media were screwed again. The judge asked both sides and the defendant if they had agreed to the stipulation, and once that was done, he called the jury back in.
Judge Perry: The defense may call their next witness.
José Baez: Your honor, the defense rests.
Casey Anthony would not testify. The judge asked her to answer several questions regarding her decision not to speak for herself: whether it was her decision and her decision alone, whether she made the decision under duress, and so forth. She satisfied the judge that all was hunky dory.
The jury was sent away for yet another argument between the opposing sides. The prosecution had obtained some time records from Cindy Anthony’s employer for its rebuttal of her claim that she was the one who did the computer searches involving chloroform on the Anthony’s home computer. Presumably, these time records would show that she was at work at the time the searches were done. Baez felt that there was not enough time for the defense to review the presumably voluminous records. Besides, the defense wanted records from the a day prior to the date of the documents obtained by the prosecution. At one point, Baez complained about the prosecution, “That’s all it is. More blablablablabla.” I believe that both sides are complicit in the blablablablabla. So the discussion wore on, with Baez asking for more time and Perry telling him essentially to pound sand. “It is what it is.”
After a couple of rebuttal witnesses had been heard, it was time for the featured event of the day, a trial within a trial. Perry first excused the jury for the day.
Matthew Bartlett, a 28 year-old white male waiter at T.G.I. Fridays at Millenia, was brought before the judge and shown two pictures.
Judge Perry: Do you recognize these pictures?
Perry: Whose pictures are they?
Bartlett: That’s me.
Perry: And what are you doing in the pictures?
Bartlett: I’m giving a hand signal to Jeff Ashton.
Perry: You extended your middle finger. What does that hand signal mean?
Bartlett: It means the f-word to someone.
Perry then asked him when the flip-off took place — was it during the trial. The answer was yes. The judge asked Bartlett if he had read the signs on the door about not making gestures or facial expressions during the trial. He said he had. The judge asked him if he had been further instructed by the deputy in the proper comportment during the trial. He said he had. The judge then asked him why he did it in spite of all those indications that he shouldn’t. Bartlett would not say what we all knew he should: that he is a disrespectful asshole who thinks the world revolves around him. Instead, he abjectly apologized, hoping that the judge would accept the apology and send him home.
No such luck.
The judge summarily imposed a $400 fine and six days in the county jail for contempt of court. He said that Bartlett would also be responsible for court costs, which the clerk estimated would be approximately $230. The judge mercifully gave Bartlett a payment plan, with six equal monthly payments starting August 1. Then he advised Bartlett of his right to appeal and that if he couldn’t afford an attorney, the court would appoint one for him at public expense.
Perry: Do you wish to appeal?
Bartlett: [still somewhat taken aback by the sentence] Yes!
The judge then asked him what was his annual income, which turned out to be $15,000. He asked about savings accounts and checking accounts, in which Bartlett said he had $12 and $600, respectively. He asked about any other assets, which Bartlett denied owning. Finally, he asked what Bartlett’s monthly living expenses were. Bartlett replied that they were $1,500.
“The court will appoint a public defender for your appeal. You will be remanded and held at the county jail for processing. That will take about 45 minutes,” said Perry. Two deputies escorted Bartlett out of the room.
That was that. This dumbass kid is bound to become a sensation among slackers — a hero, even. Remember the “Don’t taze me, bro!” guy in Gainesville? This guy is going to have that same sort of notoriety and following. Young hedonists, who think Casey is being wrongfully accused by a society bent on not letting the poor girl have a little fun (and by way of projection, doing the same thing to them), will lionize this schmuck for his brass balls and for taking the fall for their cause. I’m here to say that those who fall into that category are all assholes who didn’t have a proper upbringing, and their parents should be shot for malfeasance. These scofflaws contribute nothing to our society, but take more than their share. I hope Bartlett has a nice time being Bubba’s bitch down at 33rd Street.
Today, more rebuttal witnesses. Judge Perry still thinks summations can be delivered on Saturday morning and instructions given to the jury on Saturday afternoon. We’ll see.