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Casey Anthony defense: Caylee drowned in pool

May 24, 2011
By KYLE HIGHTOWER, Associated Press

ORLANDO (AP) - The defense attorney for a Florida mother charged with murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter said Tuesday during opening statements that the girl drowned in the family swimming pool and claimed the toddler's grandparents covered up the accident.

Prosecutors, however, said Caylee Anthony died from three pieces of duct tape being placed over her mouth and nose. Caylee's mother Casey Anthony waited a month before telling her own mother that the toddler was missing.

Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, she could be sentenced to death.

An autopsy was never able to conclude a cause of death. Casey Anthony has previously said a baby sitter kidnapped the girl.

Casey Anthony's attorney said she was abused by her father as a child and alleged that Casey's brother made advances toward her and was given a paternity test to see if he was Caylee's father.

All those secrets eventually led to the cover up of Caylee's drowning, attorney Jose Baez said.

Baez said Caylee and her grandmother, Cindy, swam most of Father's Day on June 15, 2008, and suggested that Cindy forgot to pull up a ladder that prevented the toddler from climbing into the pool on her own. Baez suggested that Caylee slipped into the pool the next day when no one was looking.

The distraught family panicked and didn't call police, he said.

"Casey should have called 911. That's what she's guilty of she's, not guilty of murder. This is not a murder case," Baez said.

Prosecutors offered a timeline of Casey's whereabouts based on cell phone records. It stretched from the time Caylee was last seen by her grandparents until her remains were discovered by a meter reader in woods near her home in December 2008.

Jurors were shown images on a screen of a photo of Caylee taken on Father's Day alongside an image of the little girl's skeletal remains.

Casey Anthony waited a month before telling her mother that Caylee had disappeared, and that was only after her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, had recovered a car Casey had been driving from a towing lot. The vehicle had a foul odor inside.

Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick asked jurors, between descriptions of Casey Anthony shopping, visiting friends and hanging out with her boyfriend with no sign of her daughter, "Where is Caylee Marie Anthony?"

She also described Internet searches conducted on a computer at Casey Anthony's home that showed queries for chloroform, neck-breaking and alcohol.

Prosecutors said everything Casey Anthony did was based on a web of lies.

"Casey Anthony ... appeared to be ... a loving mother, trying to provide support for her daughter," Drane Burdick said. "But as the evidence in this case will show, that was an illusion."

During a lengthy opening statement, Baez accused George Anthony of planting duct tape matching the brand later found over Caylee's mouth in a way that would implicate Casey.

"George Anthony took certain steps to make sure he was as far away from this situation and that Casey would end up taking the blame for this," Baez said.

Baez also blamed the police department for botching the investigation, claiming they wanted to feed a media frenzy about a mother killing her child instead of investigating a mundane drowning.

Police "had murder on their minds. This couldn't be an accident," Baez said. "You'll find that professional police work took a backseat in this case. We were more concerned about the public than doing their jobs."

Casey Anthony was emotional throughout the day, crying periodically and wiping her nose with a tissue.

George Anthony sat stone faced in the back of courtroom next to his wife.



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