Casey Anthony told Judge Belvin Perry Thursday afternoon that she will not take the stand to testify in her own defense. Following that announcement, the defense rested.
Attorneys for both sides then spent more than an hour arguing about issues related to the prosecution’s rebuttal case.
The first complaint made by the defense involved hundreds of pages of records from Cindy Anthony’s former employer, Gentiva, that prosecutors had given them Thursday morning. Defense attorney Cheney Mason argued that this constituted a discovery violation because the records were intended to impeach Cindy’s testimony that she conducted searches for information about chloroform on the family computer in March 2008 while she was supposed to be at work.
Those searches, along with others about internal injuries and neck-breaking, discovered in computer records from two days in March had been presented by prosecutors as evidence of premeditation for murder under the assumption that Casey Anthony was the one who conducted them, but Cindy testified that they were all hers.
Mason said Cindy stated in a July 2009 deposition that she may have done those searches, so prosecutors had two years to seek those work records, but they only subpoenaed them last week after Cindy testified for the defense. Prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick responded that Cindy went into much more detail in her testimony during the trial than she did during her deposition and she was the one who brought up computer records and emails that could prove whether she was at work.
According to Mason, defense attorney Dorothy Clay Sims began talking to the Gentiva compliance officer who prosecutors planned to call to testify about the documents during the lunch break, but she needed additional time if Perry was going to allow the records to be introduced.
Mason urged Perry not to “reward the prosecution” by allowing the evidence. Defense attorney Jose Baez argued that it was prejudicial because it would look like they had presented false evidence to the jury during their case.
Perry asked if the defense knew that Cindy would testify that the timecard records contained in earlier discovery were essentially meaningless, and Baez said both sides were aware she was a salaried employee and could come and go as she needed. Burdick responded that prosecutors only followed up on the matter the previous week because of how vigorously Cindy defended her claim that she was home regardless of what her timecards showed.
Perry ruled that no discovery violation had occurred, but he said he would give the defense the rest of the afternoon to speak with the witness and examine the records.
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton said the second rebuttal witness would be Mike Vincent of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who would verify that one of the cans of air samples entered into evidence allegedly containing the odor of human decomposition from Casey Anthony’s trunk did smell the same as the trunk. This led to a broader argument about whether jurors would be given the opportunity to smell the evidence themselves, an issue Ashton originally brought up during jury selection.
Perry said appeals courts have condemned the practice of allowing jurors to smell or taste evidence in the past because it essentially calls upon them to become witnesses in the case. He said if one of the jurors had smelled decomposition before and shared their opinion with the rest of the jury, that would infringe on the right of the defendant to cross examine witnesses against her. He ruled that the cans would not go back to the jury room with the other evidence during deliberations.
Perry also determined that Vincent’s testimony was not needed to rebut anything in the defense case because several witnesses testified during the state’s case in chief that the odor in the trunk was human decomposition.
The first rebuttal witness, crime scene technician Alina Burroughs, only took the stand briefly Thursday to identify photos of clothing taken from the Anthony home while executing a search warrant in December 2008.
Before the jury was excused, Ashton introduced George Anthony’s suicide note into evidence and allowed jurors to read it.
After the jury was released for the day, a 28-year-old Orlando man who had been caught giving Jeff Ashton the middle finger during court earlier in the afternoon was brought before the judge. Matthew Bartlett, a waiter at a T.G.I.Friday’s, apologized repeatedly for what he did and admitted it was stupid.
“I don’t even know why I did it,” Bartlett said.
Perry found Bartlett guilty of criminal contempt of court and sentenced him to six days in jail and a $400 fine.