Monday, June 20, 2011

A Mystery Writer Watches the Casey Anthony Murder Trial

A heart shaped sticker on a piece of duct tape is a vital clue in a murder mystery. Truth is stranger than fiction.

I've been watching and/or listening to the Casey Anthony murder trial on CNN via the computer

The good thing about the computer live feed is no commercials. No talking heads. Just what is actually happening in the courtroom. Without sounding unfeeling, I couldn't help but think that the Casey Anthony trial has all the elements of a good mystery. At the same time, I can't forget that an innocent child really is dead and her killer, may or may not pay for the crime.

When Court TV first premiered back in 1991, I was fascinated. I video-taped hearings so I could watch at night when I came home from work. Memorable hearings for me included: the Rebecca Schafer murder trial, a Denver bank robbery case, and of course the O.J. Simpson murder trial. I used to get so frustrated with the commercial interruptions and the hosts talking over the proceedings. Maybe I'm the exception, but I like hearing the "boring" parts. I'm interested in the process, in the objections, in the judge's instructions. I always learn something new about evidence collection or the law in a certain jurisdiction.

For me a trial is structured much like a mystery novel. A crime occurs. It's investigated. Evidence is gathered. Witnesses interviewed. Experts consulted. Suspects eliminated. Someone is arrested. And in most cases, unless there is a plea bargain, the matter goes to a hearing. The prosecutor sets out a plot and lays out a timeline, weaving in the evidence and testimony. The defense attorney does much the same while attacking the prosecutor's theory of the crime. As a mystery writer I find the whole process as intriguing as a fiction - maybe more so.

Setting aside for a moment the real tragedy of this case, I viewed the main players in the courtroom as a cast of characters. The following are my opinions based on my viewing of the trial so far. As I write this the final witnesses for the prosecution are being called.

Casey Anthony is a young, narcissistic, unwed mother who has been proven to be a compulsive liar. She led a double life for more than two years since the birth of her daughter, Caylee.

Casey and Caylee lived with Casey's parents, Cindy and George. Cindy was a nurse. George was a retired police officer, who worked part-time as a security guard. Casey has an older brother, Lee, who was not living in the home at the time of Caylee's death. The family seems to have been enablers for Casey's irresponsible lifestyle.

Casey pretended she worked at Universal Studios as an event planner. She pretended she had a babysitter, Zanny, for Caylee. At one point in June 2008, she and Caylee left the Anthony family home. After 31 days and many lies from her daughter about where her granddaughter was, Cindy Anthony reported Caylee missing.

Casey's car had been abandoned and found with a terrible odor inside. Casey wove a tale of a kidnapping by the babysitter. The world searched for the missing child. In December Caylee's body was found a few blocks from her home, wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket, and duct tape with a heart-shaped sticker on her skull.

The prosecutor's evidence:
  1. Casey lied to the police about her daughter's disappearance.
  2. Casey lied to the police about her job.
  3. Casey lied to the police about the babysitter.
  4. Casey abandoned her car. When it was towed and later retrieved by George Anthony, the car reeked of decomposition.
  5. Coffin flies were detected in the car and on paper towels that when tested had adipose materials on them.
  6. A hair was found that matched Caylee's and this hair showed root banding - a known phenomenon of hair from a decomposing body.
  7. Chloroform was found in the car's trunk liner.
  8. An examination of the family computer revealed searches for "how to make chloroform."
  9. Heart-shaped stickers were found in Casey's room. A heart-shaped sticker was found with remains.
  10. Casey worked nights as a "shot girl" in a nightclub. No one knows for sure where Caylee was when she was supposed to be with the imaginary babysitter. Speculation is that she was locked in Casey's car or car trunk - sleeping.
  11. The duct tape, baby blanket, and other items found with the body came from the Anthony house.
  12. After Casey was missing but before police were involved, Casey partied, got a tattoo, and generally did exactly what she wanted.
The defense's evidence:

We don't know yet. In the defense's opening statement, Attorney Jose Baez claimed that Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool and the body was hidden by George Anthony, Casey's father. Casey, he claimed was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and was too afraid to report the accidental death, fearing she would be blamed by the police and even more importantly, her mother. So in response, she lied about everything.

By the time you are reading this blog, the defense will be well on their way to presenting their case. As a mystery writer I can't wait to find out what tale they'll spin. As a human being, I can't wait for justice for little Caylee.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books- Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. Rhonda, this case is so sad. I just came back from a visit to my hometown and everyone in central Florida is glued to their TV sets. I think if Casey manages to get away with this ala OJ we are going to see some very angry and vocal people.

  2. How anyone could do this to their own child I don't know. But some people are sick and missing normal feelings--I'm afraid this mom is one of those.


  3. Just saw this:

    I am so grossed out by Casey Anthony that I have to change the channel whenever I see her face. Ugh. This whole case just makes me really sad.