Accused child killer Casey Anthony told a judge on Thursday that she would not testify at her murder trial, and the defense team rested its case after two weeks of trying to refute the prosecution.
Judge Belvin Perry asked Casey whether the decision to forgo testifying was hers alone after consulting with her attorneys.
“Yes sir,” Casey said in an Orlando, Florida courtroom.
Casey, 25, is accused of smothering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee with duct tape on June 16, 2008 so she could “live the good life” free of the demands of motherhood. Prosecutors say Casey stored the child’s body in her car trunk, then dumped it in woods near her home.
Caylee’s skeletal remains were found with duct tape, a Winnie the Pooh blanket and black plastic trash bags on December 11, 2008 in the wooded area.
Casey’s defense contends the toddler accidentally drowned in the family’s backyard pool, but the death was not reported.
The finale of the defense’s case came as the closely watched trial nears the end of its sixth week.
The proceedings once again included fireworks. The alleged mistress of Casey’s father testified for the defense, attorneys battled over evidence and a courtroom spectator was sentenced to six days in jail for giving a prosecutor the middle finger.
Prosecutors failed to convince Perry that jurors should be allowed to open and smell a canned sample of air collected from Casey’s car trunk.
The smell has been a major point of contention.
The investigation into Caylee’s disappearance began in mid-July 2008 after Casey’s parents found her abandoned car at an impound lot suffused with an odor they likened to a dead body.
Prosecutors presented additional witnesses who identified the scent as that of human decomposition, including a research scientist who studies the chemistry of that particular odor.
The defense, however, maintained the smell came from a bag of trash found in the trunk.
“This jury, in my estimation, is going to want to smell the evidence,” prosecutor Jeff Ashton argued.
But defense attorney Jose Baez objected, and Perry agreed on the grounds that smelling the air sample would effectively turn jurors into witnesses rendering opinions about the origin of the odor.
NEW EVIDENCE OBTAINED
New evidence threatened to derail the judge’s plans to have the jury begin deliberating on Saturday.
Prosecutors said they had just obtained work records for Casey’s mother, Cindy Anthony. She had surprised them when she testified she was home searching for information about chloroform on the family’s computer despite time cards that showed she was at work.
Evidence of the chemical, a once-popular anesthetic that is also released by decaying bodies, was found in Casey’s car trunk.
At the end of Thursday, Baez told Perry that he had just subpoenaed additional work records for Cindy, and the records might not be available until next week due to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Earlier on Thursday, a woman who claimed to have had an affair with Casey’s father George Anthony gave conflicting testimony about whether he knew or merely speculated in 2008 what had happened to his then-missing granddaughter.
George previously has denied having an affair or anything to do with Caylee’s death.
In a sworn statement Krystal Holloway gave to detectives in 2010, she quoted George as saying this about what happened to Caylee: “It was an accident that snowballed out of control.”
In the same sworn statement, Holloway said George also told her, “I really believe that it was an accident, and it just went wrong and she tried to cover it up.”
Asked by defense lawyers and prosecutors whether George said he knew that Caylee died as a result of an accident, Holloway seemed to agree with Baez that George knew, and also with Ashton that he didn’t know.
Ashton said in court that even he was confused by her answers.
Over Baez’s objection, Perry instructed jurors to consider Holloway’s testimony only in terms of how they felt it reflected on George’s credibility, and not consider it as evidence of how Caylee died.
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