A young couple reportedly partied at a bar after allegedly murdering a 19-year-old girl, then argued about how to dispose of her corpse in text and Facebook messages!
Two private investigators who worked with Casey Anthony’s family testified Monday about conducting a search for her daughter Caylee’s body in the wooded area off Suburban Drive one month before her remains were found there.
Private investigator Jim Hoover, who videotaped the searches, said he and investigator Dominic Casey went to Suburban Drive on November 15 and 16, 2008 to look for Caylee’s remains. He said they were looking there with the belief that Caylee could be “in the wooded area and deceased,” but they did not find anything.
Much of Hoover’s testimony was sidetracked by confusion over whether he attempted to sell those tapes to Fox News or the National Enquirer. He said at one point he was told the tapes could be worth up to $200,000, but when asked by prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick if he held out to try to sell them before giving them to law enforcement, he said she was “absolutely wrong.”
Still, Hoover had acknowledged on direct examination that he tried to sell some photos to Fox News because “the Anthonys were broke” and he wanted to give the money to them.
Hoover claimed he had Dominic Casey’s permission to film the searches, but Casey, taking the stand after him, testified that he knew Hoover was recording video at the time but he had forbidden him from recording audio. According to Casey, today in court was the first time he heard the audio.
Casey testified that he was on his cell phone with a psychic named Ginette Lucas while he and Hoover were searching the Suburban Drive area on November 15, 2008. He was not allowed to testify about what she told him, but he said they were there looking for Caylee’s remains.
Casey stated that they found water about ankle-deep approximately 20 feet into the woods. He said they went to look at an abandoned house in the area after he talked to Lucas again.
According to Casey, they returned to the area on November 16 “to prove a psychic wrong.” Casey said he went back again a few days after that without Hoover. He testified that he did not handle any physical evidence related to the case or see any bags that appeared to contain human remains during any of those visits.
Dominic Casey was on the stand until close to 7:15 pm, making Monday the longest day of the trial so far. This may be Judge Belvin Perry’s effort to make up for time lost when Saturday’s testimony was canceled while the court considered a motion to evaluate Casey Anthony’s competency to proceed with the trial.
The defense has also filed a motion seeking a mistrial based on a federal court ruling issued last week declaring Florida’s death penalty sentencing statutes unconstitutional. Defense attorney Ann Finnell requested a mistrial and asked that a non-death penalty qualified jury be selected for a new trial. That motion was not addressed in court Monday.
Earlier in the afternoon, defense forensic chemist Dr. Kenneth Furton concluded his testimony on his research on chemical compounds related to human decomposition and doubts he had about the findings of prosecution expert Dr. Arpad Vass. While he was not highly critical of Vass, Furton said that research on the subject of compounds produced during decomposition was still ongoing and there are many other possible sources for the chemicals that have been identified.
Furton stated that the five chemical compounds upon which Vass based his conclusion that a human body decomposed in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car are not exclusive to decomposition. Some, including chloroform, can be found in cleaning products or decomposing organic matter, he said.
Asked by prosecutor Jeff Ashton if the presence of a dead human body could explain the chemicals Vass found, the fatty acids on paper towels in the trash and the stain on the trunk carpet, Furton responded, “I would say it’s possible.”
When Ashton repeatedly pressed him about whether any other single thing could explain all of the findings in Vass’ report, Furton maintained that a combination of things, including a “decomposition event not necessarily of human origin,” could have produced the chemicals Vass identified. He did agree with Ashton, however, that something was decomposing in that vehicle.
Furton noted that there were salami and Velveeta packages in the trash bag found in the trunk, suggesting it was possible the decomposition of meat or dairy products could have produced the chemicals and odors found in the trunk. Ashton pointed out that there was little or no organic matter in any of the items recovered from the trash, including those packages.
At this point in the cross examination, Ashton gave Furton and jurors a chance to view and smell a few pieces of trash from the bag found in the trunk.
While Furton was unwilling to dismiss the possibility that the material found in the trash could have created a significant odor, he admitted that it would be “unlikely” for it to produce an odor that would remain two years later like the smell in the trunk reportedly did.
Testimony resumes Tuesday morning.