Dude! Smell My Car!
Posted by thedarwinexception on May 28, 2011
I am behind. A whole day behind. In fact, as I write this I haven’t even finished watching all the testimony from yesterday, and I’m already recording testimony from today. Do you know why I am behind? Because of the kid. Paul had appointments yesterday, so I was the one watching her. And here’s a shocker – 3 year old s aren’t sympathetic, they don’t care that someone their own age died and her mother is on trial. No empathy at all. No matter how many times I said “Let’s be quiet and watch this” – I wasn’t getting any co-operation. All the kid wanted to do was go outside and ride her bike. So that’s what we ended up doing. And we went to the ice cream stand. So now I am a day behind. Oh well.
So both parties started out the day with motions – one for a mistrial, which was denied, of course. The state, on the other hand, was successful with it’s motion to curtail the character evidence being introduced by the defense in it’s cross-examination questioning. This is the whole “good mother” thing. As in “From what you observed – was Casey a good mother?” I wondered how they were getting away with that, and finally the state made a motion to have these self serving statements stopped. The defense based it’s motion for mistrial on the accusation that the state was pretty much doing the same thing – confusing “demeanor” evidence with “character evidence”. Which is not so, actually. There’s a huge difference between “Was she a good mother?” And “Was she anxious, nervous, upset….” One is character, one is demeanor – guess which one is which.
The State says that all of the videos and the demeanor evidence they are putting in front of the jury is to rebut Casey’s assertions to the police that she was “actively looking for her daughter on her own”. The defense contends that since they are conceding that Casey wasn’t looking for her daughter, there is no need to present this evidence, and by doing so, the state is simply attesting to Casey’s bad character. And although it is proper for the state to present character evidence – they only can do so to rebut character evidence introduced by the defense, and Baez says they haven’t introduced any character evidence yet – and the judge make the quip of “How many times have you used the words ‘good mother’ Mr. Baez?” hahahha.
The first witness up today is Mallory Parker – she is the former girlfriend and current fiancee of Lee Anthony. She talked about the time that Cindy Anthony called Lee and asked him to go downtown to find his sister. Cindy had heard that this is where Casey might be – and she was anxious to find her. Mallory said that she and Lee went to Church Street and looked all over for Casey – but never found her. She testified that she tested Casey several times that evening, barely getting any responses. She said that Casey did text her one time to say that she “needed her space”. Cross examination was very emotional. Mallory said that Casey and Caylee had a “Special bond”, that the love that Caylee had for Casey was :amazing”. She got choked up and had tears streaming down her face, Casey got choked up – and Baez even had a crack in his voice. It was all very tragic – but all I kept thinking was “If Casey’s bond with Caylee was so special and they loved each other so much – how could she be walking arm in arm with her boyfriend in Blockbuster the very evening her daughter died – no matter how the daughter died.” It’s all very odd.
We then had William Waters on the stand. Casey went to his fourth of July party – and they went shopping the next day at Ikea.
The state then introduced a shit load of videos of Casey shopping. Casey shopping at Penny’s, Casey shopping at Target. Casey shopping at Winn-Dixie. Casey shopping at Ikea. Casey shopping at Target again. She bought a shitload of groceries at Target. I miss Target. We don’t have a Target up here. It looked like she was buying groceries at Target. None of the Target’s I was ever in sold groceries. Are there “Super Targets” now that also sell food? Man, I miss Target. Anyway, all I could think during these videos was “Fuck! I have got to get me a fake job at Universal! Look at all the money this bitch is spending!” I know she was using her friend Amy’s stolen credit cards and checks. But, you know, she pled guilty to those charges and the jury won’t know she was using stolen money. So you know they have to be wondering where the fuck the money came from for all this shopping. The last they heard, she was stealing gas cans because she had no money for gas in her car. I’ll bet every one of them is going to go home after this trial and send resumes to Universal “Hi, My name is Juror number 1109, I would like to apply for a fake job with your company, so that I, too, can go shopping at SuperTarget and fill my cart with groceries.”
Next up is Katherine Sanchez. She was the manager at the Amscot where Casey abandoned her car. She testifies she saw the car there for two or three days, determined it was abandoned, and waited over the weekend to see if anyone would come to get it. Then, after 3 or 4 days of the car being there, as is the store policy, on June 30th she contacted the towing service her company contracted with, Johnson’s Wrecker Service, and had the car removed. She testifies she went around the car on one of the days it was parked there, looking for a note from the owner. She didn’t find one, nor did she smell anything emanating from the car. She said that this could have been because the car was parked right next to the dumpster. You wouldn’t expect that the Amscot would generate anything but papers and office garbage – but there are also two fast food restaurants in the same complex – and they throw a lot of food away, leading to a smelly dumpster.
She also testified about the security cameras. She said that her office had no access to the recordings done by the cameras – corporate would have those tapes. I haven’t heard about any surveillance from the Amscot, so I don’t know If the state ever subpenaed those, or if they were ever available.
Next up is Simon Birch. Who sound slightly like Russell Crowe. He has been in the tow business for 30 years, with a 2 years hiatus when he worked for Waste Management, so the man knows his smells. He says he has had experience with dead bodies that have been left in cars. He has smelled them 6 or 7 times. He’s not an expert witness, and doesn’t have to be vetted as such, but he’s as close as you are going to get in a lay person.
Birch talks about all the legal requirements and forms that go along with towing a car, and testifies that once they determined who the registered owner of the car was, that they sent a letter to George and Cindy Anthony to tell them where their car was located, what the requirements and fees would be to retrieve it and the address from where the car was towed. Birch testifies that he also did a quick evaluation of the car, went around the vehicle looking for obvious signs of damage, did a cursory look inside the car through the glass (they aren’t allowed to enter the vehicle at this point, and the car was locked.) and while he was doing so, he noticed a strong odor coming from the car. He testifies that he recognized the smell and thought to himself “Oh wow – I know what that smell is.” He says the odor wasn’t too overpowering, since cars are sealed quite well, and only the strongest of smells can penetrate that seal.
George and Cindy Anthony showed up to get the car on the 15th of July. They were quite upset about how long it took the Tow Service to contact them, the price to get the car, and Cindy was quite vocal and animated in her displeasure.
Birch took George out to the back yard to retrieve the car while Cindy stayed in the office with the poor receptionist girl who probably wondered what the fuck she ever did to deserve an irate Cindy in her office.
Birch testified that as they were walking back towards the car, George apologized for Cindy’s behavior, said that they were under a lot of stress lately since their granddaughter was missing and their daughter wouldn’t tell them where she was, and that he and Cindy would probably get divorced over this.
When finally reached the car, George opened it with a key he had, and the smell that came from the car was “over-powering and eye opening.” Birch again says that he recognized the smell as “human decomposition”. Adding that once you smell that smell, it’s one you never forget. But he said nothing to George about what he thought the smell was.
George tried to start the car and was unsuccessful. They both thought that it sounded like the car was out of gas, and George said he had a gas can in his vehicle, so Birch escorted him back to the front, where he got the gas can, and back to the Sunfire, where George filled the car with the gas from the gas can. (It was the metal round can that Casey had earlier stolen – the one George testified earlier about, saying he never used it again.)
Birch testifies that they finally opened the trunk, thinking that since there didn’t seem to be any source in the car for the smell, it must be coming from there. They found a white kitchen garbage bag in the trunk, which Birch took out of the trunk and threw towards the dumpster. He says he remembers seeing a pizza box, some papers, and what looked to be regular kitchen garbage in the bag.
Baez then has a chance to cross examine the witness – and he begins by asking Birch if he’s a good citizen – if he would obstruct justice or allow a car that might have valuable forensic evidence in it to leave his lot. Baez reminds Birch that his lot is the one the Sheriff Department contracts with for cars towed for forensic processing – in fact, the Sunfire was eventually towed by this same establishment for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. What he’s really asking is exactly what I thought when Birch was testifying on direct. If Birch was so sure that this was a car that held a “smell of death,” and he had just heard George say to him “My granddaughter is missing and my daughter won’t tell us where she is”, then why in the world did he allow George Anthony to open that trunk without calling the police first? That just seems outrageous. And while I know that the headlines are going to trumpet Birch’s statement “CAR SMELLED LIKE DEATH.” and overlook the fact that someone is so certain that this car “smelled like human decomposition” and they *didn’t* call anyone, I really think that his credibility is tarnished somewhat by his lack of action and discretion in allowing George to open that trunk.
Baez then has the witness acknowledge that even after the car was seized from the Anthony’s (and towed by his business), and even after the world wide media coverage concerning the processing and seizure of the car, even after the statements being repeated in the headlines about the car smelling like there had been a damned body in it – he still didn’t call the police, It wasn’t until the 24th, 9 days later, that he ever gave a statement to the police. And during that statement, he said that he couldn’t remember whether he actually saw a [pizza box in the bag, or if he conflated that memory with what he saw on television. Alluding to the fact, of course, that maybe he didn’t actually smell anything in the trunk, he just conflated that with Cindy Anthony’s statements of “It smells like there’s been a damned body in the car” that he also might have seen on television.
On re-direct, Linda Drane Burdick asked the witness if, when he threw the bag out of the car, the smell seemed to follow the bag. The witness said no, the car still stank. On re-cross, Baez had the witness testify that George had keys to the car, and knew the prior location of the car because of the letter. I guess he’s trying to establish that George had access to the car while it sat at Amscot. I don’t see how, since he didn’t know where the car was until he got the letter, and by then the car was at the tow yard.
Next up is George Anthony once again, this is the third time the state has called him. This time he is here for the limited purpose of what happened when he and Cindy got the letter from the tow yard and what happened when they picked up the car.
George says that the post office left one of those little yellow “You’ve Got Mail!” things on his door and it wasn’t until he was doing yard work that he was even aware the notice was on his door. He went himself to the post office to pick up the letter, and when he read it, he was concerned, because as far as he and Cindy knew, Casey had the car in her possession in Jacksonville. He called Cindy to tell her that the car was at a tow yard, and to tell her that he was going to the tow yard to see what was going on. The yard was only a mile or so from the post office.
He was quite upset when he talked to the receptionist at the yard, because the car had been there for two weeks racking up fees. He thought that he and Cindy should have been notified much earlier, just out of courtesy. The fees were over $500, and he found out that he also needed the title to the car to retrieve it. He called Cindy again, she said she would go by the bank and get the money and George told her to meet him at home, since he needed other documentation to pick up the car.
When he was at home, he got the required papers together, and he also went and got his gas can with gas to bring – only because it seemed like something you normally do when picking up a car from someplace. That’s what he had always done before- bring a gas can.
When they finally got to the yard they were both agitated. Cindy was arguing with the receptionist, and Simon Birch finally came up and talked to them – he ended up giving the Anthony’s a break on the fees. George thought that was just to appease them or get them the hell out of there.
Cindy stayed in the office and George went back to the yard with Birch. George says that when he got within three feet of the car he could smell it. He said he had smelled that odor before and he knew what it was – he thought that he might find his daughter and granddaughter dead in the car, and he was relieved when he got to the car, looked in and didn’t see what he was fearing.
George testifies, like Birch, that the car wouldn’t start, he went and got his gas can from his vehicle, and that they decided to open the trunk. George says that before he did so, he said softly “Please don’t let this be Casey or Caylee”. He didn’t find his granddaughter or Daughter, but they did find the white trash bag with a pizza box and a 64 ounce Arm&Hammer container in it. George also says he saw maggots.
He then drove the car to the front where Cindy was. The smell was still very strong, even though the garbage bag was gone. He had to leave the windows open as he drove. When he got home he opened the sunroof, the trunk, all the windows just to air it out. He and Cindy talked – they were both concerned and worried about Casey and Caylee, in light of finding the car.
Then he testifies that he was always the one to maintain the family cars, washing them, rotating tires, changing oil, cleaning the insides. This is how he knew that the stain he saw on the spare tire cover was new. It was a round basketball sized stain. He was not able to tell if the stain came from some wet substance or a dry substance. It was subtle – but it was a stain. And it hadn’t been there before.
He left the house shortly after getting home – he had a new job to go to. Cindy was going to try and get in touch with Casey.
Baez then get up to cross examine. And he immediately whips out his stupid fucking low tech calendars. Good God.
George testifies that he got the notice from the tow yard on July 13th. Baez argues with George about ow long the mail takes to get from a mile and a half away. Birch had said that the letter had been sent around the 4th. Baez established the the notice could have been sitting stuck in the front door for well over a week. He tried to get George to admit that he might have gotten a second or third notice from the post office. He kept getting shut down by the State, who objected because of facts not in evidence.
I guess this goes with the whole “George Had Access To The Car” theory Baez has. A second notice, coupled with keys to the car and the letter from the tow office, would give George plenty of opportunity to fuck around with the car.
After George got to work, he called Amscot. Baez says that Birch testified that George had told him the car had been at Amscot three days. Baez wonders how George would have been able to tell Birch this, if he didn’t call Amscot until after he had retrieved the car. George says he never told Birch this.
Baez then praises George’s “lucky thinking” and “fortunate guess” that he took a gas can with him. George just says that it’s his experience that made him take a gas can. Baez asks if the round metal gas can that he took had duct tape on it. George doesn’t remember which gas can he took.
Baez then asks him pretty much the same thing he talked to Birch about – if George, who hadn’t seen Casey or Caylee for almost a month, who had people actively searching for Casey (through Lee and Mallory going downtown to find her), who was a detective and knew what human decomposition smells like, who told Birch that his granddaughter was missing – if this man “smelled the smell of death” in the car – why did George have the tow guy go to the trunk with him? As a witness. Baez accuses George of trying to “distance himself” from any evidence in the case. George says that is not so. George says he is a stand up guy and if anything was wrong he wouldn’t distance himself from it.
Then Baez and George get into one of their tiffs because Baez wants George to say that the smell of human decomposition got stronger when they opened the trunk, and George wants to say that all he saw was a bag of garbage. Baez then asks If his experience as a police officer was how he knew the smell of death – George says yes, and Baez follows up with the fact that George never touched the bag because he didn’t want to get fingerprints on the evidence.
Baez is then back on track from where he started – given everything he knew everything he saw and everything he smelled – after he opened the trunk – is that when he called 911? George, of course, says he never called 911, and Baez goes through the litany of how, with all the available evidence he had that something might be wrong – why in the world didn’t he? And why didn’t he call Casey? You were a detective – if you smell a dead body in the car – that’s a potential crime scene.
So you go home, you air the car out – and you go to work. Yes.
Baez then asks if George had a secret meeting with police on July 24th, and told them about the smell of the car. George says it wasn’t a secret meeting, and he doesn’t remember what he said. Baez refreshes his memory with the documents. George has told them that he had experience with this smell – with dead bodies found in the woods, and Baez seizes on this statement – because it was 6 months before Caylee was found in the woods.
Baex then asks George if the reason he drove the car home, aired it out and then went to work without calling the police was because he knew that Caylee was already dead. I don’t see how this follows, but, you know. This is what Baez is shooting for. George, of course, says of course he didn’t know at that point what had happened ot his granddaughter. Baez says that he reason George went to work was because he was trying to distance himself. If he was at work, he would be the last person questioned with regards to the disappearance of his granddaughter. Which is fucking bizarre. What? The police don’t question people with jobs? Baez is loony.
Whatever. The state gets up to re-cross. And I’m really hoping the only question they ask him is “George, as a former detective – did you ever question a witness at work?” Idiot.
Mr. George asks when the notice was placed on his door – George doesn’t know.
He then asks about the distancing thing – and he puts forth a hypothetical situation to George – he says “Let’s suppose Caylee Anthony drowned in a pool, and you took her body and placed it in a field – then there would be no any evidence in Casey’s car – would there?” And you know, I just want to get up, place my hand over my heart and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Because finally, someone gets it. This is all so stupid and convoluted and lacking in fucking common sense that I’m getting a fucking head ache. “No, there wouldn’t be” George replies – and the State follows with “So there would be nothing for you to run away from, would there?” And I’m quite sure the jury is all nodding their heads, agreeing that this is a waste of their Memorial Day weekend.
And, despite the questions being asked over objections by Baez, that was the sum total of the re-direct.
The judge tells Mr. Anfony he can stand down.
And the state re-calls Anthony Lazzaro.
The state asks Mr. Lazzaro if “L7Tone” means anything to him – he says yes, that’s his AOL instant messaging name. It has to do with his lucky number, his initial, and a DJ name. Casey’s Instant Messaging name was CaseyOMarie.
Mr. George is attempting to introduce the conversations – the defense objects and there’s a whole sidebar, hearing and conversation before that happens. The state explains that they would like to introduce one snippet of conversation because it establishes that Mr. Lazzaro wants to come over to her house, but she has to put him off because the parents and the kid are in the way. Which is kind of dumb, because she didn’t kill the parents. And he already testified that he liked the kid. Seems she would have killed George and Cindy, not Caylee. But maybe the tow of them wouldn’t fit in the trunk. How big is the Sunfire’s trunk, anyway?
Well, I must be on the right track, because the judge asks the very same thing – why didn’t she kill her parents?
The judge doesn’t want to allow the text messages – and he sends everyone home – well, not the jury – he sends them back to the hotel with instructions not to stay up too late watching the Lightning game – because they have to be back in court on Saturday.