The jury in Casey Anthony’s murder trial began deliberating at 12:09 pm on Monday.
Prior to the reading of 26 pages of jury instructions by Judge Belvin Perry, prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick delivered a powerful final rebuttal argument.
“My biggest fear is that common sense will be lost in all the rhetoric of the case,” Burdick said. She insisted she would never ask the jury to make their decision based on emotion, as defense attorney Jose Baez had said prosecutors wanted.
She said “the irony is rich” that “the most well-documented liar ever seen in a courtroom” is accusing witnesses and investigators of lying, fraud and perjury. She referred to the defense tactic of calling other people liars to distract the jury as “classic Casey Anthony.”
While Baez had dismissed testimony about Casey’s behavior during the 31 days between when her daughter Caylee was last seen and when she was reported missing as “irrelevant,” Burdick said her actions suggested a consciousness of guilt, not grieving.
“Responses to guilt are oh, so predictable,” she said. “What do guilty people do? They lie, they avoid, they run, they mislead…they divert attention away from themselves and they act like nothing is wrong.”
The defense built their closing argument around the unanswered question of how Caylee died, but Burdick said there was only one real question left: “Who killed Caylee Anthony?” According to her, the evidence proved that Caylee’s death was not an accident.
She played a portion of one of Casey’s interviews with detectives where they brought up the possibility of an accident, and even specifically mentioned children drowning in pools, and Casey said nothing. Then she played a clip from one of Casey’s visits with her parents in jail where her mother tells her the media is talking about the possibility that Caylee drowned in the pool and she dismisses it.
“No person would ever make the accidental death of a child look like murder,” Burdick said. If this was an accident, “Caylee Anthony would have been found floating in the pool, not floating in a swamp.”
She mocked the defense claim that evidence showed Casey was an “amazing mother.” For example, the defense said she provided Caylee with food, shelter and clothes. “That makes her a great mother? No, that makes her a mother. Maybe an adequate mother.” Most of those things were provided by Casey’s parents, not her, Burdick said.
“What kind of amazing parent acts with complete indifference to the accidental death of their child?” she asked. She said the way Caylee’s body was ultimately found “speaks volumes about how the person who disposed of her really felt about her.”
As prosecutor Jeff Ashton had in his portion of the closing argument, Burdick attacked the defense claim that George Anthony was responsible for the cover-up of Caylee’s death. She showed the jury a photo of the playhouse George and Cindy built for Caylee in the backyard and said that indicated how much he cared about her. She questioned why George would have been pressuring Casey so hard in their jail visits to talk to the authorities if he was trying to hide something.
She then played a long clip of Casey’s phone call to her parents’ house on the night she was arrested where the only thing she was interested in was getting her boyfriend Tony Lazzaro’s phone number and she expressed no concern at all for Caylee. She also cursed at her parents and repeatedly said calling them was a waste of time.
Burdick argued that Casey was the only person who had access to every piece of evidence in the case. She suggested that the garbage bag in the trunk of the car was a “decoy” put there to keep people from getting suspicious about the smell of the car when she abandoned it in front of a dumpster in an Amscot parking lot.
“Whose life was better without Caylee?” she asked. She compared George and Cindy going to work and wondering where their daughter and granddaughter were in June and July 2008 with Casey staying at her boyfriend’s apartment while Caylee was dead in the woods.
“That’s the only question you need to answer in considering why Caylee Marie Anthony was left on the side of the road dead,” Burdick said. Then she showed the jury a split-screen with a photo of Casey partying at a night club on one side and a close-up of the “Bella Vita” (beautiful life) tattoo that she got weeks after Caylee died on the other.
“There’s your answer,” she said.