Four things to know about the Casey depositions

NEED TO KNOW
  • Why were the shocking Casey Anthony mental health documents just now revealed?
  • Newspaper asked to have depositions unsealed after prosecutor wrote about them
  • HLN explains the interviews and how they were used as strategy in the case
Four things to know about the Casey depositions

So you've had some time to read through the nearly 500 pages of newly released deposition transcripts from the Casey Anthony case... but still have questions? So did we! The depositions of psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Danziger and psychologist Dr. William Weitz are filled with surprising revelations, but there are plenty of things you may still be wondering about. HLN has a few answers.

The trial ended six months ago. Why are we only seeing these documents now?

Because they weren't public until the Orlando Sentinel asked for them to be unsealed last month. The newspaper’s motion came after prosecutor Jeff Ashton discussed previously unreleased information about the depositions in his recent book, “Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony.” Anthony’s attorneys argued that the depositions should remain sealed while her appeal is pending -- and they even tried to have Ashton held in contempt of court for spilling the details. But in his order unsealing the documents, Judge Belvin Perry said that he only intended for them to be kept private through the end of Casey's trial for her daughter Caylee’s murder.

Who are these doctors and how did they get involved in the case?

Dr. Jeffrey Danziger actually played a role much earlier in the case as one of the mental health experts appointed by the court to evaluate Casey Anthony’s competency following her arrest in 2008. He was contacted by the defense in October of 2010 and asked to interview Anthony again to “see if there was anything from a psychiatric standpoint that would be relevant to her defense,” according to the transcript. He said he met with Anthony four times in November and December of 2010.

Dr. William Weitz described himself as a registered traumatologist and told prosecutors he has testified in 50-75 criminal cases since the 1980s. The defense brought him in as a consultant in December 2009, in part because of his expertise in “traumatic stress issues.” He conducted two lengthy interviews with Anthony in February and March 2011.

Did they believe everything Casey Anthony told them?

Jeff Ashton certainly didn’t think so. In his book, he described Danziger’s demeanor on the day of his deposition this way: “In my opinion, he saw himself that day, not as a physician giving a diagnosis but as a vehicle for the transmission of a lie and I think the thought sickened him.” During the depositions, Danziger and Weitz were both careful to separate the facts about what Casey told them from the truth about what they might believe to be true.

“Am I ethically doing the right thing by reporting things she said that accuse others of crimes that may never have happened?” Danziger questioned at one point.

Asked if his statements accurately reflected Casey Anthony’s claims of sexual abuse, Weitz responded, “That’s what was represented to me … I’m not saying it took place.”

So why didn’t these experts testify at Anthony’s trial?

For one thing, their conclusions may not have been all that helpful to the defense case. Prosecutors stated in a motion filed in April that both experts “do not diagnose the defendant as suffering from any clinical or personality disorders.” In his deposition, Danziger said he was “puzzled” that Anthony seemed so calm in jail despite the situation she was in. Weitz also noted the dissonance in her demeanor.

Several motions filed between the two deposition dates suggest another possible reason. Because the defense wanted these two experts to testify, prosecutors argued that they should be allowed to have their own mental health expert examine Anthony. In response, the defense argued the state did not have that right and asked that numerous restrictions be placed on the examination if the court allowed it to occur. The next day, at the second part of Danziger’s deposition, Baez announced that they were taking him off the witness list. A few days later, the defense filed a notice that both witnesses were being withdrawn. Why? HLN’s Nancy Grace believes they were afraid to let a prosecution mental health expert interview Anthony.

“They called the whole thing off when they realized the state shrinks were going to get to interview Tot Mom,” Grace said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

For the latest on this and other crime stories, watch "Nancy Grace" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST on HLN

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