The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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A Competent Day

Posted by thedarwinexception on July 1, 2011

So after no testimony on Saturday, today is sure to be a rushed, long day. The judge isn’t going to want to waste any more time.

The judge immediately reveals that the reason for the abrupt recess the court took on Saturday was because the defense filed a motion questioning Casey’s competency to proceed. Based upon that order the court ordered that the defendant be examined by three psychologists to determine her competency to proceed. The court appointed three independent experts, Dr. Daniel Treshler, Dr. Harry McClaren and Dr. Ryan Hall.

The three experts examined Casey over the weekend and submitted reports to the court with their findings. Based upon the reports of the three experts, the court finds that Casey is competent to continue to proceed. The reports of the psychiatrists are sealed.

The defense and the state have cleared up all matters relating to Dr. Kenneth Furton that they discussed on Saturday.

The defense’s first witness today is a familiar face – Detective Yuri Melich. Baez asks the detective if he misspoke in his testimony on Friday. The Detective agrees that he did. Melich says that in regards to the cell phone records he testified about, specifically the ones regarding Roy Kronk, he subpoenaed the cell phone records only for June 1st, 2008 through July 1st, 2008.

Baez then points out that it wasn’t until August 11th that Roy Kronk first called the police regarding this case. The detective agrees. Baez asks if Roy Kronk’s involvement spanned the months of August through December. Melich says yes. But he only subpoenaed cell phone records for June. Baez points out that if the detective had pulled all those months of cell phone records that it would have been easy to tell if Kronk was in the area of Suburban Drive when he shouldn’t have been. Melich agrees.

Baez asks if there are any other incidents where he misspoke to this jury. Melich says not to his knowledge. Baez says OK – so this is the only time you have misled the jury?

Melich says that Baez is implying that he deliberately misinformed the jury – that was not the case. Baez was asking him questions regarding a three year investigation, there was a lot of cell phone records, a lot of subpoenas, and since Melich doesn’t know what Baez is going to ask him, he can’t prepare. So yes, he did misspeak, but it was not deliberate.

Baez says he’s not implying anything, he is just asking if there was any other information the detective gave that was false. Melich says not that he can recall, but was there anything else he wanted to bring up?

Baez says – “well, now that you bring it up – let’s talk about Mr. Anthony’s cell phone records.” Baez asks if Melich testified that he had George’s cell phone records for June and July. Melich says that he isn’t sure what exactly he testified to – they were talking about cell phone records and home phone records. Melich says that when he left court on Friday, he went back and checked and he did subpoena George Anthony’s cell phone records for June and July of 2008. Baez asks if he has those with him and Melich says no, he doesn’t. Baez asks if those records have Cell Tower locations, and Melich says no, they don’t.

Baez asks if that information would have been useful, and Melich says yeah, if Melich had thought it would play a part in this case, which he didn’t believe was true at the time. Although Melich did subpoena the cell phone records of most of Casey’s friends, ex-boyfriends and acquaintances.

Baez asks the detective if he confiscated the computer of Roy Kronk – Melich didn’t. Yet Melich did confiscate the computer of a woman named Joy Wray. – A woman who claimed to have taken photographs of the area on Suburban Drive. She also claimed to be a spy for George Bush. She also had been Baker Acted. Melich says there was a specific reason that he confiscated Ms. Wray’s computer. Melich also confiscated Ricardo Morales’s computer – and that’s how it was learned that he was selling photographs to the Globe.

On December 13th, 2008, two days after the remains were discovered; Melich received an email from Joe Jordan. Baez says that this email was not turned over to the prosecution or the defense for over a year and a half. Melich asks if he can see the email in question.

Once he reads the email, Baez asks if it’s true that Melich only turned this email over to the prosecution and the defense after Baez found Mr. Jordan. Melich says he doesn’t remember when the email was turned over.

Baez then asks Melich about the two search warrants that were served on the Anthony home in December. In the first search, they confiscated items relating to the Winnie the Pooh blanket. Baez also asks if he left a list of the items confiscated and a copy of the search warrant at the home. Melich says he left these items.

Baez asks if Melich spoke with the Anthony’s – and if he told them any information that had not yet become public. Melich says it is not unusual for him to disclose information to victims in a case. Baez asks if he told the Anthony’s anything about the items that were found on Suburban drive. Melich says he can’t recall specifically if he talked with the Anthony’s or what he might have told them.

Melich says he did not employ a cadaver dog on the other two vehicles at the Anthony home. Baez asks if the issue ever came up that Casey might have driven Cindy’s car at one point. Melich says he remembers that coming up in the course of the investigation. George informed him of that. But the detectives did not find any evidence to confirm that this happened – or was not true of the pertinent time frame that he may have thought it occurred.

Melich says he never deployed a cadaver dog inside the Anthony home.

Baez then shows an enlarged aerial photo of the general area of the Anthony home and has Melich point out both the Anthony home and the site where the remains were found.

Baez then has Melich confirm that Casey was arrested on July 16th, 2008. And that she was out on bond for a short period from August to October. She was subject to electronic monitoring during that time. There were throughout that period of time 5 – 10 media trucks outside of her home. Wherever she went the media followed. Since the indictment of October, 2008, Casey has been in jail.

Baez is done. Burdick crosses. She asks about the email from Joe Jordan. Melich received this email 24-36 hours after the remains were found. They were busy with that, and were, at that time, receiving hundreds of tip a day.

Burdick asks if the cars of George or Cindy Anthony ever smelled like they had a dead body in them. Melich says no.

Burdick asks about the cell phone records he had subpoenaed. The ones from Casey’s friends, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends. She has the witness testify that the focus of these records were the June-July 2008 time period. Casey’s own phone records were initially subpoenaed only for this time period as well – the period of June 1st through July 15th. This was the critical time period when Caylee was missing and the detectives were focusing on finding out where Casey had been and where Caylee could be found.

Casey’s phone records also were subpoenaed to follow up on the information that Casey had originally gave them regarding the babysitter who had stolen her daughter – information that later proved to be false. Anyone Casey had talked to during this time period was also followed up on in an effort to locate Zenaida Gonzalez and some of the other names that Casey had given as contacts of Zenaida’s – Juliette Lewis, Raquel Ferrell, Jeffrey Hopkins, all eventually discovered to be imaginary people.

Baez re-directs – Baez asks Melich if Joe Jordan had given Melich information before. Melich says that it was all through email, Melich doesn’t think they had met face to face. Melich says that Mr. Jordan was one of the many people trying to help out, tell the police where to look, how to do their jobs, give the police information. Baez says – “But you actually took some of his information and used it, right?” Melich says he doesn’t remember what information he took from Mr. Jordan. Baez asks if Melich remembers Mr. Jordan directing Melich to blogs posted by Cindy Anthony’s brother. Melich says that someone told him about blogs – he doesn’t remember if it was Mr. Jordan or someone else.

Baez asks Melich if he was actually present when Deputy Forgey went through Casey’s car with the cadaver car. Melich says he thinks he was. Baez shows Melich a drawing that Melich had made earlier depicting the forensics bay, the Sunfire, and a second car. Melich testifies that Forgey only had his car inspect one car. Forgey had testified that he led the car through other cars in the parking lot first.

The detective is excused. The defense calls Detective Michael Vincent. Baez shows him a drawing that he did earlier (similar to the one Melich had drawn.) He, too, testifies that Forgey only deployed his cadaver dog on one car in the parking lot. And Baez is done with Vincent. The state has no questions.

The witness is excused. The defense’s next witness is Gerardo Bloise. Oh my fucking God. It’s another drawing that Bloise drew in an earlier hearing in March 2011. It’s the same forensics bay drawing. Bloise testifies that Forgey only deployed his dog on only one car in the parking lot. Baez has no other questions.

Burdick asks if the witness’s focus that day was the white Sunfire. Bloise says yes. This is what he was paying attention to and documenting.

Baez asks if, in his job as a detective, his job is to focus on the details- the minute details. Bloise says yes.

The witness is excused. The defense’s next witness is Deputy Jason Forgey (you had to expect this…) Like it really matters how many cars he deployed the dog on before the dog hit on the Sunfire. Good Lord. Even if the guy says “Oh, I was wrong, I didn’t send the dog around any other cars- just the Sunfire. Does that make the “hit” less valid??

Baez shows Forgey another drawing. One that Forgery drew in March 2011. Of the forensic bay. He drew the two cars that he deployed Garus on. He didn’t know whose car the other one was. He says there were witnesses to this incident. He says Bloise, Vincent and his supervisor were there. They would all corroborate that he deployed his dog on two cars. Baez asks if he deploys the dog on another car so that the dog doesn’t false alert. Forgey says that’s what they do in training; this was a real world scenario. In real world scenarios you don’t always have two vehicles. He only deployed the dog on two vehicles because the other vehicle happened to be there.

Burdick crosses. She says regardless if there were one car, 100 cars or 2 cars, Forgey still knew that the white Sunfire was the car in question, correct? Forgey agrees.

The witness is excused. The defense’s next witness is Dr. Kenneth Furton. He is a Chemistry Professor. He has a PhD in Analytical Chemistry. He focused on chemical mixtures. And the compounds emitted by forensic specimens. Since 2003 he has studied the volatile chemical given off by live humans as well as dead bodies. He has government grants to study human scent (Your tax dollars at work.) He has never testified as an expert witness in human decomposition. He has testified as an expert witness in Analytical Chemistry. He has a patent on some device that identifies human based on the volatile chemicals they emit.

Baez offers him as an expert in human decomposition and analytical chemistry. Ashton has no objection to the chemistry part, but wants to voir dire the witness with regards to the human decomposition part.

The witness testifies to Ashton that his research has been from the perspective of cadaver dogs – studying what they alert to. Ashton also says “And by your research – we actually mean your students research.” Furton says yes, but it’s under his direction. Ashton also asks the doctor if, up until recently, the doctor didn’t work with whole human cadavers, but with training aids used by cadaver dogs. The witness agrees. He says that one of his students worked with portions of human remains used as training aids by the cadaver dogs and one student used whole human cadavers. Ashton asks if, other than the research of one student with training aids and the research of one student with whole human cadavers, if the doctor has any other expertise in human decomposition. Ashton says human decomposition is a very broad subject matter. Ashton says, for instance, do you have expertise in stages of human decomposition, bloat versus ….you know, that area?

The doctor says only as it relates to volatile organic compounds that might be emitted at each stage.

Ashton tells the judge that he has no objection to the witness being accepted as an expert in the very limited area of organic compounds as they relate to human decomposition – but not the entire field of human decomposition.

Baez says that’s fine – they are not going into any areas outside of the odor analysis of decomposition.

Baez asks the doctor what items he received and reviewed in this case. He received all the records related to the investigation, including the autopsy report, the photos of the items in the trunk of the car, the expert witness report, and the reports from the Body Farm and the depositions and reports from the expert witnesses. He specifically looked at the work done by the Body Farm. He also reviewed the report by Dr. Sigmon. He also reviewed the studies done by Dr. Vass.

This witness, based on his own research and that of others, thinks that there is no chemically unique signature related to human decomposition to the level that it cold be used to identify the presence or absence of human decomposition based on the chemical residues that are present.

He has a power point presentation.

The Power Point explains the GC/MS machine and explains how it accepts samples and prints out a chromatogram.

Furton then shows a slide which compares the chemical make-up of 10 living individuals – 5 females and 5 males. Furton has a “human bar code” – a listing of the chemicals that these 10 people gave off. There is a unique pattern of chemicals for each person.

Furton then shows a slide that compares the “human bar codes” of 7 living individuals and 6 dead individuals (3 form a mortuary, 3 from a crematorium). This graph shows that dead individuals look a lot more similar than living individuals. Their chemical make up – while not perfectly aligned, contain nearly identical compounds and in the same relative abundance.

Furton then shows a slide he created that lists the 20 most common chemicals found in the deceased samples of individuals. These chemicals were found the most consistently and the most abundantly in all of the deceased individuals.

Furton then shows a slide that shows the chemical compounds found in other decomposing samples, such as canines and meat samples – tuna, chicken, lamp, pork – as well as humans. This study was to identify what chemicals were prevalent in non human decompositional events and compare them to the uniquely human compounds. There is quite a bit of overlap in the chemical signature of human and non-human decompositional events.

This brings us to another demonstrative aid and the magic easel.

Furton has taken the eight major studies (as well as some publications, including the one by Dr. Vass) that have been done on human decomposition and compiled them into one chart, classifying them by the major compounds that each study found to be present in human decomposition. This is an easy snapshot into what compounds they all agree on. Furton has the compounds grouped by classification – ethers and alcohols, acids, hydrocarbons, etc.

The doctor testifies that all of the studies have different methodology – they studied bodies in various stages of decomposition and in varying locations – some buried, some above ground some out in the open, some in vehicles or water. This chart is a compendium of what they found according to their methodology.

Furton has assigned a percentage to each compound – indicating what percentage of the studies and papers agree that a particular chemical is found in their individual study. Furton explains that if most of the percentages were above 50%, that this would indicate scientific agreement. Most of the percentages on the chart fall well below the 50% threshold. Some of them are as low as 25%. There are only 4 chemicals that are above 50%.

Furton is through with the magic easel and re-takes the stand to continue his Power Point presentation. He next shows a slide that has a picture of some of the items that were found in the trash in the trunk of the car.

Baez asks the doctor specifically about the 4 fatty acids reportedly found on the paper towel. Furton explains that these acids are milk lipids that can also be found in cheeses and other dairy products.

The other four chemicals (the solid chemicals) that were testified to be present in human decompositional events – sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron are also chemical s that can be found in milk, Dr. Furton testifies. These chemicals are found in our bodies *because8 we drink milk and other liquids that contain these chemicals.

These chemicals and the 4 fatty acids are not unique to human decomposition. That’s why the science has not developed to the point where we can reliably locate human remains. There are no reliable indicators in the form of chemical emissions.

Baez asks the doctor is the Body Farm did a quantitative or qualitative analysis in their analysis of the materials in this case. Furton says that they did a qualitative analysis. They did not do a quantitative analysis. Furton says that a quantitative analysis is important to know the concentration to rule out other sources of the sample. Chloroform is a very prevalent chemical which is found everywhere. The concentration is very high in certain consumer products such as cleaning solutions and bleach.

The doctor tried to cite the World Health Organization study about the scary levels of chloroform that can be found in household products, but Ashton objects. There are two sidebars, and the jury is sent out for lunch.

Ashton then presents to the judge case law cites regarding expert witnesses using hearsay on which to base their opinions.

The attorneys come back after their lunch break to continue the arguing about Furton’s testimony. Ashton says this is a proffer matter – Baez says it’s a proper line of questioning and he’s not interested in pre-trying his case before the prosecution so that Ashton gets a free look. Baez thinks this is going on far too often.

The judge says he doesn’t need a proffer, but the judge has read the case law Ashton cited and as long as the witness is giving his opinion, that’s fine. But he can’t sit on the stand and regurgitate other studies and reports and cites. The judge says he will trust that this is not what the witness is going to do.

Ashton says that this witness has no independent knowledge of levels of chloroform in household products. The only knowledge he has of this is the study from the World Heath Organization. Ashton says that, as an officer of the court, that the only knowledge he has of these levels is hearsay. And a witness cannot testify on direct examination to the underlying facts that his opinion is based on if those underlying facts are not admissible.

The judge says he is not going to require a proffer, but the doctor cannot testify to underlying facts. If he does, and it comes out on cross examination that his testimony is based on hearsay, then his testimony is subject to being stricken.

Baez argues that every scientist reads textbooks and articles and peer reviewed material and relies on these sources for their opinions. And if the material they base their opinions on is “generally accepted” as a source in the field, that these are not considered hearsay under the rules of evidence. And yes, the doctor relied on the internet, but the internet, too, is an acceptable and customary source that should fall outside hearsay.

The judge says that there are many ways for an expert to gather data for their opinion. One way being, you know, if you are an analytical chemist, to study and research household materials for their chemical compounds and coming up with opinion. But if the basis of the Doctor’s knowledge is purely an internet search, you know any one of us could do that and come back and regurgitate the information. You don’t have to be an expert to do that.

Baez says he will ask the doctor what the basis of his opinion is. And Baez does a short proffer to explore the basis of the witness’s knowledge.

The witness says that the basis of his opinion is general knowledge of the basic properties of volatile chemicals such as chloroform, through his education and experience.

Just before he testified, the doctor researched via the internet to see what other articles and papers might be found on household products and chloroform levels. He googled through Google Scholar so some of the sources were journal articles – some were websites. Baez asks if these articles were such that they are generally accepted by scientists and researchers in forming their opinions. Baez asks if he has been instructed to not use the knowledge he gained in his internet searches when rendering his opinion. The doctor says he has been so instructed.

Ashton asks if the doctor has ever done any research into the levels of chloroform in household products. The doctor says no. Ashton asks if everything he knows about these levels is based on what he has read from various sources. The doctor says yes – well, his experience and knowledge as an analytical chemist – and what he has read in peer reviewed journal articles and government documents.

Ashton says “well if you’ve never done any research on chloroform levels, what do you mean experience – other than reading?” The doctor says “well, in my experience as an analytical chemist – my life is separating, analyzing, identifying and quantifying chemicals and compounds and chloroform is just another compound.” Ashton says he understands that, but his testimony is about levels in common household items – that’s based completely on what you’ve read, not from firsthand knowledge through research or experience.”

Ashton argues to the judge that the witness can offer his opinion, but he can’t regurgitate other’s opinions. He can’t testify regarding what he’s read. He can’t bring up inadmissible testimony and hearsay. Claims that cannot be cross examined.

Baez says that he thought this issue was settled before lunch at the sidebar. This witness is a chemist, he’s an analytical chemist, and he analyzes chemicals. This is the way experts get their opinions and information – through respected and reliable studies and journals and the research of others. The witness is getting his information through valid sources – he’s not saying he heard this at the bowling alley.

The judge rules that the witness can give his opinion. He doesn’t have to state where he gets his information from. If he is cross examined and asked where the opinions come from, he can then state the source of his knowledge.

The jury comes back, the direct continues with the question: “What contains chloroform” The doctor says that the most common place you find chloroform is when chlorine reacts with organic compounds – for instance when bleach interacts with the fragrances that are added to it. You might also see chloroform in butters, oils, cheese, things of that nature. You can also find chloroform in chlorinated water – the chlorine will react with the organic compounds present in water.

Baez asks the witness if, in his opinion, the chemical compounds that Dr. Vass found in this case would indicate the presence of the human decomposition. The Doctor says that these 5 compounds are not unique to human decomposition, two of the compounds, chloroform and carbo-tetrachloride are common compounds found in ordinary cleaning products, and the three methyl-sulfides have been reported in decomposing organic matter, it doesn’t even have to be another animal. It’s been reported in urban trash cans, for instance.

Since these compounds are not unique to human decomposition, they can’t be relied upon to indicate that presence.

Baez is done. Ashton to cross. And Ashton asks the doctor if he examined the spare tire cover in this case. Ashton shows it to him. He says “Do you see any bleach stains on that?” The doctor says “None that are apparent.” Baez says “Judge – there’s a missing part!” The judge says “Overruled”.

Ashton then points out to the doctor that these chemical reactions he’s talking about – like the one with bleach and organic compounds – they don’t happen in a vacuum – they produce other compounds, too. That reaction also produces other compounds besides chloroform. This is where Ashton loses the doctor. The doctor seems unsure about the by-products of mixing chlorine and organic compounds. He is loathe to say that it would create other compounds besides chloroform. Which, you know, is something even I learned in High School Chemistry. And I didn’t pay a lot of attention in Chemistry. Except for “we’re making explosions” days. And dude, you don’t need a PhD in Chemistry to realize that “gee! My eyes are burning! Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed this bleach and this toilet cleaner!” But the doctor says it wasn’t in any peer reviewed articles he read. So, you know, that would need to be researched and published. And now I don’t believe anything he says. Because he’s a dumbass. Idiot.

Ashton asks the doctor “Isn’t chloroform a carcinogen?” The doctor says yes. Ashton then asks “But it’s in butter and cheese?” The doctor says “Yes.” Ashton says “But in the low parts per billion?” The doctor says yes. There is an FDA limit on how much chloroform can be in food products. The doctor doesn’t know the exact limit.

Ashton then brings up the doctor’s power point presentation. He shows him the slide that compares the “human bar code” of living humans to dead individuals. Ashton asks if this chart illustrates that we all smell much more alike when we are dead than when we are alive. Ashton asks if this chart would tend to indicate that there is some validity to the science of identifying the distinct odor of human decomposition. The doctor agrees that it does, but that we haven’t yet found the entire set of unique compounds that constitute human decomposition. Ashton then shows him the next slide – and says “OK, so your student completed this study just this year, right” And the doctor is quick to point out that the student completed the study under his direction.” Ashton says “Yeah, but the student is the one who actually went to the morgue and got the samples and analyzed them” The doctor admits that’s true.

Ashton asks the doctor about the collection method that was used in this study. The student went to the morgue and used a “Scent Transfer Unit” (which looks like a dustbuster). This is a device used by law enforcement to collect living human scent. The doctor is expanding the scope of the device to collect scent from dead bodies.

Ashton asks if the doctor would agree that this collection method is inferior to the triple sorbent traps. The doctor agrees that this is the case. Ashton also asks about the “background noise” of the samples collected. There were some compounds found in the morgue bodies that weren’t found in the crematorium bodies – Ashton speculates that this may have been compounds that were ambient in the air, and the doctor agrees that this is a possibility.

Ashton also clarifies that the pork, beef, tuna etc. that the doctor tested was not a “fresh kill” kind of meat, but unprocessed meat foods for human consumption that were purchased, allowed to rot, and then tested. And the chart indicates that there is a great difference in the chemical compounds between the animal meats and the human bodies.

Ashton then asks about the chart comparing the varied studies and papers on human decomposition. Ashton asks which of the studies covered the longest period of time and the Doctor says that would be the Vass studies. Vass’s study is the only one that looked at bodies over a period of time. The other studies looked at one point in the decompositional process. Vass’s study and the Strathopopolis study were the only ones to use the triple sorbent traps and they were the only ones that looked at whole bodies. The other studies were looking simply at body parts or blood. Only the Vass studies analyzed anerobic bodies.

Ashton asks the doctor if this is why Vass’s study identified the most number of compounds – he looked at the bodies over time, he studied different environments and he used triple sorbent traps. The doctor agrees.

Ashton then poses to the doctor that even though the doctor doesn’t think the presence of the odor is enough to establish the presence of human remains, given the chemical analysis of the odor, along with the presence of fatty acids on the paper towel, the inorganic compounds found in the carpet, and the volatile fatty acids found in the carpet –those four things together – the things that Dr. Vass’s study showed – can the doctor please tell the jury – can all four of those things together be explained by the presence of a dead body in the car?

The doctor says it’s possible. But the chloroform and the carbon tetrachloride have only been found in two studies to be present in human decomposition, so they could have come from another source. Otherwise they are inconsistent with the other studies that have been published.

Ashton says “but they were found in two studies” And the doctor says yes – by the same person who did the analysis in this case. And Ashton points out that unless the doctor discredits that study (which the doctor doesn’t) then the presence of these chemicals could indicate human decomposition. The doctor says he does discredit the studies in that they are limited in scope and ongoing research.

Ashton asks if the doctor actually questions that Dr. Vass’s study found chloroform and carbon tetrachloride? The doctor says that Vass did not run standards, which may or may not be correct, but the doctor does believe he saw them on the GC/MS.

Ashton asks if the doctor thinks that the studies were not done thoroughly, properly or correctly? And the doctor says – they should have run standards.

Ashton shows the doctor his deposition wherein he said “I’m not saying the tests were not run thoroughly, properly or correctly.” Ashton asks if the doctor has changed his opinion. The doctor says he’s just saying that there’s another step that’s missing – he’s not saying the findings are invalid.

Ashton asks about the study by the student that involved the morgue/crematorium. Ashton asks if in this study, they relied on the GC/MS to identify a number of the compounds they found. The doctor says yes, that’s right. The top 20 compounds they found they ran standards on – the lesser abundant compounds they did not.

Ashton asks the doctor what other one event or substance, other than a decomposing human body, could explain all 4 things found by Dr. Vass in this case? The doctor says it could be a combination of things – like the cleaning products reported by Dr. Vass – in addition to a decompositional event, doesn’t have to be human – these things could explain all 4 findings. Ashton says “So there is no one other things that could explain all four findings except for a human decompositional event? ”The doctor says “Well, it could even be a human decompositional event plus something else: He does not accept that a human decompositional event would explain the chloroform or the carbon tetrachloride. And the doctor doesn’t think it has to be a human decompositional even t- it could be an animal combined with consumer products.

Ashton then asks “OK – from what you know that was found in the trunk of the car – how do you explain these four findings?” The doctor starts talking about the cheese and the salami, the milk lipds….I’m not sure if he knows that the packages were all empty or if he thinks that just the fact that those products used to be in those packages is enough.

Ashton asks the doctor if he agrees that something was decomposing in the trunk of the car. The doctor agrees. Ashton says that the only question is what was it, right? And the doctor agrees again. Ashton asks the doctor again – from what we know was in the trunk, what is it that you believe – is there anything in there – which you believe would account for the findings of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory?

The doctor says “we just talked about that” – he thinks it’s garbage combined with cleaning products (I think). Ashton must think that, too, because he has the doctor put up the slide with the garbage.

Since the doctor mentioned the salami package in his own speculation about what cause the chemical compounds related to decomposition, Ashton circles that one first. He asks the doctor if he agrees that there was no meat in this package. The doctor agrees and says that there would have been residue. Ashton asks if he would agree that a little residue in the bottom of the package isn’t going to be enough to create an odor that will permeate an entire trunk and be detectable by the methods used. He said no, not if this package were by itself and put in the trash, probably not. Ashton then circles the “Velveeta Remnants” the packaging of the cheese products. Ashton then asks if the doctor knows how much of Velveeta is actually a milk product. The doctor laughs and says, yeah, it’s main ingredient is milk and milk fat – but not very much cheese. Ashton asks if the doctor knows home much Velveeta was in the package. The doctor says he doesn’t know, but from the pictures, it wasn’t very much.

Ashton goes and gets the packaging. Baez objects and says this was after it was altered. Overruled.

Ashton opens the Rigatoni & Broccoli Velveeta cheese box. The doctor agrees that there is no food in this box and it would not produce an odor.

Ashton opens the next evidence item. The doctor says there could be residue, and residual odor is not visible to the naked eye.

Ashton opens the third item – a soiled box. The doctor says that if this were contaminated with residue from the actual foil package, it might give off an odor. Yeah, Ashton goes and gets the foil package. There is some cheese residue on the inside.

Baez objects again – it’s altered evidence. Overruled.

Ashton passes the foil around to the jury. I’m wondering if they’re smelling it. I’d smell it.


After the sidebar Ashton asks the doctor of he would agree that there was not sufficient amounts of organic material to create the level of chemical compounds and decompositional odors that were found. The doctor says he could not say that –there was some rotting cheese on the inside of the foil. That would be consistent with the same fatty acids in the report that he read. That one thing or if that just contributed is speculation. Maybe not that one thing alone, but we don’t know what caused the stain, so maybe these things were just contributors.

Ashton says “But we’ve been through everything in the trunk – as far as you know?” The doctor says – as far as I know, yes. Ashton asks if the limited amount of organic material that they saw in the garbage be sufficient to leave a smell in the vehicle two years after it was removed. The doctor says that would be unlikely.

Ashton is through. Baez is re-directing. He notes that in the “human bar code” chart that shows the top 20 chemicals found consistently among the deceased bodies in the doctor’s study there was none of the five chemicals Vass found in this case.

Baez asks the doctor if a body that has been buried for one year, or five years, or 10 years, assist him in any way with rendering an opinion in this case. The doctor says it would be limited use. But it’s helpful to look at all studies and information.

WooHoo! A return visit of Baez’s favorite garbage picture. He asks the doctor if the garbage on the right is different than the garbage on the left. The doctor says it’s spread out.

Baez asked probably 25 questions in this exchange that were objected to and sustained. The funny part was when Ashton would object to something and Baez would whine “He did that when he was questioning, your honor!!” It’s like, yeah, he did, you should have OBJECTED, maybe?? It really was kind of amusing.

Baez then digs into the garbage. He shows the doctor the brown stain on the lip of the can – and asks the doctor if that looks like chewing tobacco. The doctor agrees. But there’s nothing in the can. Baez asks if the doctor knows where that spit is. He says he doesn’t. Baez shows the doctor the Velveeta box again. He shows him a purple stain on the box and asks the doctor where the source of that stain is. The doctor says it’s no longer there. Baez shows him pupera on the box and asks if there must have been something there to attract those insects. The doctor agrees. Baez asks if the chemical composition of the trash would have changed from three years ago when it was collected to now, and after being put in a dry room. The doctor agrees with that as well.

Baez asks if science has advanced enough yet for scientists to know with any certainty what the unique chemical signature is of human decomposition. The doctor says he doesn’t think so.

Baez is done. Ashton re-crosses. He asks the doctor if it’s true that the property of an odor is such that it is stronger the closer it is to the source. The doctor agrees. Ashton then asks that if the odor was emanating from the garbage bag, then when the bag was removed from the trunk the smell would go with it. The doctor says that if there were residue on the carpet, then some smell would still be associated with that. And Ashton asks if the majority of the odor would go with the bag. The doctor agrees.

Ashton asks if the witness reviewed the reports of the crime scene technicians. He said he had. Ashton asks if any of those reports noted that anyone said that there was a strong, offensive odor, similar to death, was emanating form the bag. The doctor says not in any reports he read.

The defense calls Sgt. John Allen. Ann Finnell is questioning this witness. This is going to be a fucking blast.

Allen was the supervising sergeant in this case.

He brought with him today (or had them delivered) 2 Mini DV tapes. These items he got from a Mr. James Hoover in December 2008 and January 2009. He also brought with him a DVD disc that is a copy of the Mini DV’s that the AV unit of the OCSD made.

Finnell is done (yeah)

Burdick crosses. She asks if this “James Hoover” is an associate of one Dominic Casey. The witness says he is. Mr. Casey was a private investigator who worked for Jose Baez. In October 2008 he was hired by the Anthony family after a falling out with Baez. Mr. Casey was an individual who would email information to the witness regarding the location of a live Caylee Anthony for many months. The witness says that he went round and round with Dominic Casey during the search not only for Casey but also during the search for the original suspect Zanny the Nanny.

Mr. Hoover came to the attention of Sgt. Allen when Allen became aware that Hoover was trying to sell these videos to the National Enquirer. On December 18th, 2008 the tapes were turned over to Allen in the parking lot of a Publix when Special Agent Nic Savage and Allen interviewed Hoover. It was Allen’s understanding that these tapes held all of the information that Hoover possessed that was relevant to the investigation. Later, he found out that there was additional evidence on another tape that contained different information than what had already been turned over. Allen obtained the other tape.

Allen testifies that Hoover didn’t ask the OCSD for money.

On Re-direct, Finnell asks the witness about dates. Allen doesn’t know specific dates, either of his termination with Baez or his employment by the Anthony’s.

The witness is excused. The defense calls James Hoover. He has a huge cast/ace bandage thing on his left hand. Guess he hit someone.

Hoover is a licensed private investigator. Baez asks Hoover when and how he got involved in this case. He says that he got involved as a private citizen in July 2008, basically. Baez asks how that happened. He says that he “went down” as a private investigator, and eventually he ended up providing private investigative services for George and Cindy Anthony, probably at the end of July, beginning of August. He says he simply went and offered his services to George Anthony while George was in his front yard.

Primarily he acted as someone who kept the harassers away from their house and from them. Kind of like a bodyguard. The Anthony’s brought Hoover into their inner circle – they trusted him. He also assisted with following up on tips, in conjunction with a man named Dominic Casey, who had worked with the defense team, and then began working with the Anthony’s.

On November 15th, 2008 he worked on a tip with Dominic Casey. That morning he called Dominic at about 8:15. Dominic told Hoover to go to his office; Dominic had something to tell Hoover. Hoover met Dominic and asked him what he wanted to tell him.

That day they were scheduled to act as bodyguards for George and Cindy at a meet and greet in Orlando. Instead, they went to Suburban Drive to look for Caylee. She was supposed to be in the wooded area and deceased. Hoover videotaped this search.

Hoover identifies the video tapes, there is a sidebar, and the jury is sent out for another “brief legal matter”.

The judge asks Baez if the witness has authenticated the tapes. Baez says yes, and asks Hoover if he saw the tapes and if he can authenticate them. The witness says yes.

They return the jury.

Baez asks again if the witness has seen the tape, and if it is a fair and accurate representation. Baez establishes with the witness that this tape was filmed one month before Caylee’s remains were found. Dominic knew that Hoover was video taping him.

They show the tape to the jury. It’s kind of a weird tape. Hoover is no videographer, that’s for sure. Half the tape is him taping out the front window of the vehicle, and Dominic Casey is on the phone the entire time he’s on camera. (Although that’s an intriguing question – who was he on the phone with – was that person “guiding” him?)

Hoover testifies that they walked the length of Suburban Drive. They were specifically looking for three pavers.

The tape then changes locations to what looks like the side of someone’s house where there are a number of black plastic bags. Dominic Casey is seen hitting and moving the plastic bag to judge their contents. Hoover says they were looking for Caylee’s remains in a black plastic bag. Then we see Dominic Casey digging with a spade in the dirt beside a house or shed or barn. It looks like there’s a black plastic bag buried where he is digging.

Then they are back in the woods off of Suburban Drive. They find a small blanket.

The tape continues with footage from the next day.

Baez asks him to point out on a map where he parked and where he searched, but Hoover can’t really do it without the utility poles to orient himself.

The tape continues with Casey going down the path into the woods – it seems to be the same path that Caylee’s remains were found on. He sees a paver stone and yells out to Hoover “Here it is!” Yeah, he has some inside information from someone about this area. You can bet on that.

Baez stops the tape and asks the witness if he just saw that fallen tree. Good God. They were right there. They find the three pavers they were (for some reason) looking for. Dominic Casey is seen poking with a stick at the underbrush and between rocks. Hoover says that he was “probing” the area for the remains.

And then the video is back at that house. Where Dominic counts the pavers again – one, two, three. Did Casey stop at this house first and get some pavers to mark the path or the dump site? Which doesn’t really make sense, since she knew the area, and her friend said that they used to bury pets and stuff there, and it was reported that Casey used to play in those woods as a child.

The tape is finished. Baez has the witness mark on a map where he was when he was taping.

Baez shows him another map that shows where the abandoned house was that was shown in the video – that’s where they were digging and found the paver stones.

Baez asks if the witness notified law enforcement of the existence of these tapes after he learned that Caylee’s remains were found a month later in the same area where he was looking. The witness says no, he didn’t tell law enforcement at that time. He thought that he had taped over the tape with a Christmas Parade his son was in. Eventually he found the tape – and found it hadn’t been taped over. That tape was never for sale.

Dominic Casey had some still photos that he had taken in the woods. He tried to sell these photographs right before Christmas because he was broke. Hoover tried to sell the photos to Fox News for Dominic. He was going to give the money to Dominic and the Anthony’s.

When Law Enforcement interviewed Hoover, he gave them the Christmas Parade video, thinking that this was the original video – taped over. It wasn’t until December 30th or so that he realized he did have the video of the woods and that it wasn’t taped over. He didn’t lie to Law Enforcement or intentionally give them the wrong video – he really thought that the video of the woods had been taped over.

Baez asks about Hoover’s attempts to sell the tape to Fox News. Hoover insists the only tape he tried to sell was the one that he thought was taped over-t hat this tape had no value to him because it was taped over. Baez asks how much he was going to get for the tape. Hoover says that someone told him it could be worth $200,000. But Hoover says he made no money from the video.

Baez is done. Burdick crosses. She asks the witness if he was just trying to hold out for the highest bidder. Hoover says absolutely not. Burdick says he gave law enforcement two videos – one that had bad color and one that contained a Christmas pageant. Burdick says the witness told law enforcement that the woods video was taped over. The witness says it was. Burdick says – no it wasn’t you still had it. And the witness says he believed it was taped over. When he discovered he still had the tape, he immediately called the lawyer’s (maybe Baez) that contacted law enforcement.

Burdick asks Hoover if he was secretly trying to videotape the Anthony family. He says no. Burdick says the witness was trying to capitalize n his relationship wit the family. Hoover says “You’re so wrong.” Burdick says that he was secretly taping Dominic Casey on the first day. The witness says no, Dominic knew he was being taped.

The first day they parked the car near the corner of Hopespring and Suburban. When Dominic first got out of the car he moved the cameras from the front seat to the back seat. He got out of the car and told Hoover “wait here for a minute”. Hoover got the camera and started filming Dominic Casey. The film had a lot of “off color” to it, so Hoover changed the film. Then, when he looked back after changing tapes, he could no longer see Dominic, so he backed the car up until he saw the point in the woods where Dominic was.

They went back to the house and then went back to the wooded area later that day. This is when they were looking for the “pavers”. On the second day they parked near the third light pole from the corner.

Burdick asks about the blanket they found in the woods. Burdick asks if it was really a bath mat. Hoover says he never touched it, but it looked like a blanket to him. Burdick says in the video tape that Dominic Casey says it was a bath mat. Burdick asks if, to this day the witness knows where Caylee’s skull was found. The witness says no, he doesn’t know. And he doesn’t know where her skeleton was found. He didn’t see a red Disney bag. And there were several fallen trees or logs in the woods. He says he didn’t end up in any water. He did see water the second day – 15 feet or so into the woods. His shoes got soggy.

Burdick is done. Baez re-directs. First thing he makes clear is that Hoover never gave him the video. And he never tried to sell it to Baez. Baez then asks Hoover what they were doing in the woods one month before Caylee was found? Hoover says “looking for Caylee’s remains.”

The witness is excused. The defense calls Dominic Casey. He is a private investigator and a security officer. He’s been licensed as a PI since March 2008. On October 1st, 2008 he was employed by George and Cindy Anthony. He was previously employed by Baez Law Firm. He terminated his relationship with Baez on October 1st, 2008. There was some overlap in the two.

He was following up on tips for George and Cindy that they were receiving on the hotline. He was also doing security work for them. There were protestors at the house and they would congregate there daily from September until the end of October or so.

Because of the protestors he would park his car on Suburban Drive for 20 to 30 minutes at the end of every evening to make sure all the protesters had actually left the area. While he was sitting there he would see other people in the area. Specifically, he would see Sheriff’s vehicles in the area of the school, and a couple of media vehicles.

Finnell asks him about a teddy bear. And how he facilitated the sending of the teddy bear to Luke Phillips.

He acquired an address from Luke Phillips, gave the address to Cindy Anthony and asked Cindy if she could send something of Caylee’s to Luke Phillips. She said yes, and she forwarded a teddy bear. Cindy told him it was a teddy bear. Dominic got a package back from Luke that was meant for Cindy. He brought the box to Cindy. Cindy opened the box. And it was Teddy.

Luke Phillips is a man who offered help to the family right from the beginning in July. He is a psychic pimp. He aids in searches and hooks desperate families up with “psychics”.

On November 15th, 2008 he went with James Hoover to Suburban Drive. Dominic Casey describes Hoover as a volunteer who provided security services to the family. On November 15th 2008, he was on a cell phone on Suburban Drive. He was talking to Jeanette Lucas. She is a psychic.

Dominic Casey draws on a map the area where he went on Suburban Drive on November 15th, 2008.

He went to the location to look for the remains of Caylee after receiving the call from Jeanette.

He walked down the middle of the road towards the school, and told Hoover to stay in the vehicle. He walked far enough away from the vehicle so that Hoover couldn’t hear him. He was on the phone with Jeanette and headed into the woods. He went into the woods about 20 – 25 feet. And he was in the woods for maybe less than 10 minutes. As he came out he saw Hoover standing within 10 feet from the curb with a video camera in his hands. Dominic Casey says he never gave Hoover permission to tape him. Hoover said he wanted the tape for Dominic’s file.

When he came out of the woods he saw another opening into the woods. A trail, more or less. He went into the second opening maybe 20 -25 feet. It was white, sandy and there was two or three inches of water. He spent 10 minutes or so walking around looking. He was looking for three white paver stones.

From there he came out of the woods onto Suburban drive, got into the vehicle and went around to a few streets over where there was a vacant house. (On Jeanette’s instructions he went to this house.) He stayed at this house maybe 10 minutes. He was looking for the three paver stones here. He cut open some garbage bags to see what was inside of them.

Then they went to the Hotel by the Airport to pick someone up for the “meet and greet” event being hosted by George and Cindy.

The next day he and Hoover went back to Suburban Drive. He went back there to prove a psychic wrong. He went through the same two opening. He just wanted to pan around and look. Make sure he didn’t miss anything that Jeanette was telling him and what she was telling him to look for. He spent maybe 15 minutes that time. And Hoover was still with him. And still video taping him. This time it was with Dominic’s approval. And this time Dominic brought a stick because the ground conditions were soft, silty sand. And they saw plenty of snakes in the area the day before. They found nothing.

They went back to the abandoned house, as well, and looked around there. They found nothing.

Dominic went back to Suburban Drive a third time Hoover was not with him this time. He was on his way to the Anthony residence the following week – maybe the 18th or 19th. He went back for relief. He did not go into the woods at all. He parked and got out of his vehicle and walked up and down the length of the woods in the middle of the street. He wasn’t looking for anything.

Finnell is done. Mr. George gets up to cross. Dominic Casey had contact with Casey while she was out of jail. His job was to follow up tips and whatever investigation needed to be done. While he was working for the Anthony’s he would have contact with Mr. Baez.

George asks about the first time Dominic Casey went to eh Suburban Drive location He did that at the behest of a psychic named Jeanette Lucas. She was directing him. George asks the witness what Cindy Anthony’s mood and demeanor were at this time in November 2008. The witness says she was traumatized and distraught. She was missing her granddaughter and her daughter. The witness says George Anthony was similarly traumatized and distraught.

Mr. George asks if the witness went to the area to help George and Cindy and Dominic Casey says no, he wouldn’t put it that way. Jeannette Lucas called him early Saturday morning and all he was doing was following up on the tip. George and Cindy did not send him into those woods.

Mr. George asks the witness to mark on a map where Hoover’s vehicle was parked on November 15th and where he went into the woods.

He remembers seeing an old busted toilet in the woods, and he saw many trash bags just thrown around. He cut a few of them open. He also found a bath mat. He did not see a red Disney bag. It wasn’t an exhaustive search. He thinks he was on the phone most of the time.

He left that day and called Luke Phillips (to tell him Jeannette was full of shit. She called him back the next morning and he told her what he had seen and what he had done. She told him to go back.) So he went back to the woods. He spoke with Jeannette again when he got there. This time he brought a trowel and a probe. He told Hoover he could tape the search but he also told him that there was to be no audio. Dominic Casey only learned today that there was audio on the tape. Dominic had forbid this.

He then went to the area a third time – on his own. He walked towards the school, then towards Hopespring then back to his vehicle. He never left the road.

Mr. George is through. Finnell re-directs. She has him mark more maps with X”s and O’s. And he explains again that these are estimations. He says he did this for the Prosecutors in March 2011. Which gets a sidebar because I don’t think the defense knew that he did this. If he did it. Yeah, they did know this, it was his deposition.

Finnell goes through the whole “Did you have a tape measure on that day…..” To prove that these are estimations. Proving again that even if you videotape something, once side or the other will try to prove you wrong.

Dominic Casey is excused.


2 Responses to “A Competent Day”

  1. QueBarbara said

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that Baez is on the defense’s side. I think he sometimes gets confused, too.

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