At a grueling Sunday session in Orlando, the prosecution and defense offered up their (still unfinished) final statements, to be continued Monday.
All the cards were on the table today as the nearly six-week trial came to a head. This morning, the prosecutors came out swinging in their closing argument, painting a final portrait of Casey as a premeditated killer. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton took particular aim at Casey’s social life, claiming that Anthony sacrificed her daughter in order to pursue a relationship with a club promoter. “Something needed to be sacrificed, that something was either the life she wanted or the life thrust upon her. She chose to sacrifice her child,” Ashton said during his 90-minute argument. While Ashton spoke, all eyes were, as usual, on the expressive Casey. She choked back tears as Ashton showed a video of Casey playing with her daughter. But she couldn’t contain herself when Ashton called her a liar. He claimed she knew exactly what she was doing in placing three pieces of duct tape over young Caylee’s mouth in order to be “thorough.”
Jose Baez, Casey’s defense lawyer, opened his four-hour-long argument with a focus on the staple of courtroom justice: reasonable doubt. “How did Caylee die?” he asked point-blank, again raising the principal question in the case that the cause of the two-year-old’s death hasn’t been proven. Baez fought back against the prosecution’s case, calling it “fantasy forensics,” and proceeded to pick apart each argument made by prosecutors, from the maggots in the car trunk to a sticker found in the trash. He accused the state of seeking a win at all costs: “This is about winning a high profile case and nothing else. This is not about the search for truth.”
In one contentious moment, Baez referred to prosecutor Ashton as “this laughing guy over here,” prompting an objection, a recess, and finally an apology from both attorneys. Ashton was seen in the court with his hand cupped over his mouth trying to stifle a smile as Baez spoke. Judge Belvin Perry felt Baez’s comment was out of line but made both apologize, as the judge specifically noted that neither lawyer should show an emotional reaction to the other side’s arguments. Perry, while verbally lashing the attorneys’ professionalism, threatened to charge both with contempt.
The defense seemed to a doting, educational tone when defense attorney Cheney Mason took the floor. Speaking directly to jurors, Mason reminded them “Casey Anthony is not required to present evidence or prove anything,” he said, reminding them that guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a highly specific and narrow field. Mason also called attention to “the elephant in the room,” referring to Casey’s decision not to testify, explaining to the jurors that this should not impact their judgment.
Closing arguments were not officially wrapped up Sunday and will continue again on Monday. Once the prosecution has a chance to air its final claims, the jury will be sent for deliberations and continue as long as necessary for the jurors to make a decision. If convicted of first-degree murder, Casey Anthony could receive the death penalty.
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