From CSI to OMG: A Strange Opening for Defense in the Casey Anthony Trial

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Red Huber / Reuters

Chief judge Belvin Perry listens to a motion for acquittal from the defense during day 19 of Casey Anthony's first-degree murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, June 15, 2011.

Before dawn broke outside of the courthouse in Orlando, Florida, fireworks (fistfights actually) erupted as spectators tussled trying to snag one of the 50 spectator tickets for the Casey Anthony trial.
Orlando court officials have been opening the plaza outside of the courthouse at 5:30 am to allow would be spectators to line up for tickets. According to local media, people began assembling at 8 pm last night. And why not? Yesterday’s audience was treated to everything from DNA analysis to heated arguments between lawyers that prompted the judge to send the jury to lunch and remind the counselors, “I’m not hard of hearing.”

When court resumed for the afternoon session, defense lawyer Jose Baez asked (after a great deal of protest from the prosecution) whether investigators had conducted a paternity test on Caylee Anthony’s remains to determine whether Casey’s brother, Lee, had fathered the child. For a case that already had more random twists than a David Lynch film, we can now add incest to the mix.

(MORE: Why the Forensic Evidence May Not Be Enough to Convict Casey Anthony)

In the early stages of the trial, Anthony’s defense asserted that her father, George, had sexually assaulted her, and Baez now appears to be crafting a narrative that Anthony was also abused by her brother Lee. After prosecutors objected to the paternity question, Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. allowed the testimony, only if Baez made it clear that investigators had not requested the test. FBI forensic analyst Heather Seubert, who testified about other DNA evidence, said that the DNA profile ruled out Lee as Caylee’s father.

So why bring up the question at all? Baez is keeping his cards close to the vest on whether he will put Casey on the stand, but he appears to be building up the idea that her erratic behavior could have been caused by abuse. Casey’s father, George, has denied ever abusing his daughter.

(MORE: How the Casey Anthony Trial Became the Social-Media Trial of the Century)

For those lucky enough to emerge with a ticket from this morning’s melee, today’s proceedings promise plenty of intrigue. Dr. Werner Spitz is expected to testify and provide an alternate theory for Caylee’s cause of death. Spitz, a pathology expert who has performed more than 60,000 autopsies and consulted on cases ranging from the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr all the way up to the JonBenet Ramsey trial, is expected to testify in support of the defense’s theory that Caylee Anthony drowned in her grandparent’s pool. It may seem like a stretch, given all they’ve heard so far, but the jury only has to find reasonable doubt. One more reason to stay tuned.

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