Gerus, a cadaver dog, detected odor of a dead body in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car and on the grass in front of Caylee’s playhouse, according to Deputy Jason Forgey, a cadaver dog handler with the Orange County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit, who testified on Tuesday.
In the court, Forgey testified that Gerus alerted him that there was a dead body in the trunk of Anthony's car.
Gerus is trained to find human cadaver even among other odors. Forgey said his dog had alerted him to the presence of a dead body every time, and then he found cadaver. He also gave details about the training for his dog.
When Gerus was near Casey’s car, it stood with his hind legs and put his head and paws into the open truck of Casey’s car. And then Gerus laid down on the ground and made eye contact with Jason Forgey, alerting him.
Forgey was led to Anthony’s home. On the grass in front of Caylee’s playhouse and sandbox, the dog gave signal again. Forgey dug the ground at the spot, but nothing was found.
The next day, Forgey took the dog to the same place, but Gerus didn’t alert him this time.
The deputy said he believed there must be something on the grass because the dog had alerted him, but the remains might have disappeared by digging.
“I believe that is exactly what happened,” he told the jury. “That’s why we didn’t get any [alert] the next day.”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Jose Baez tried to undermine the authority of testimony of a dog. “You are just speculating,” Baez said. “When trying to interpret what a dog is doing or saying is speculation.”
According to Baez, one can’t say for certainty that the signal the dog gave was related to the odor of a dead human body.
Dr. Michael Rickenbach, who is a forensic chemist with the FBI, also took the witness stand on earlier Tuesday. He testified that the chloroform levels in Casey’s car were not extremely high. On Monday, Dr. Arpad Vass, a researcher who has studied decomposing bodies for 20 years, testified that the chloroform levels in the air samples taken from Anthony's trunk were shockingly high.
Chloroform is present during decomposition. During cross-examination, Rickenbach said the chloroform could also be produced by cleaning products.
The trial is expected to take 6-8 weeks before a verdict is reached.
The prosecutors say Casey chloroformed Caylee and then put duct tape over her nose and mouth, suffocating the girl.
Casey's lawyers claim Caylee was not murdered. They say the toddler accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and George, Casey's father, helped her keep the death a secret. George denied the claim on Thursday.
Caylee was last seen alive on June 16 and it was only on July 15 that she was reported missing to the police. Cindy had alerted the police by calling a 911 dispatcher and saying that she had smelled a dead body in the trunk of Casey's car that was spotted in an impound lot. The car was later towed by authorities for forensic analysis.
Initially, Casey told the police that a babysitter had abducted Caylee. Investigations showed Casey was lying as the babysitter Zanny was fictitious. Five months later, in December 2008, Caylee's decomposed skeletal remains were found in a wooded area near Casey's house by a meter reader who was relieving himself.
Casey has been charged with seven counts, including first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading the police in the death of Caylee. If she is convicted of first degree, she could be sentenced to death by the seven-woman, five-man jury.