The sensational murder trial of Casey Anthony, who has been charged with killing her two-year old daughter Caylee Anthony and dumping her body in a trash bag, began on Tuesday, throwing focus on the sexual abuse suffered by the Universal Studios theme park worker at the hands of her father and brother.
Casey, who has been charged with committing a first degree murder and then covering up the crime, is a victim of sexual abuse and was only trying to hide her pains, her lawyer Jose Baez said in opening statement on Tuesday.
Though the defense lawyers did not say that their client killed her daughter, they suggested sexual abuse as potential mitigating circumstances to the jurors to consider if they later have to decide whether to sentence Casey to death if she is convicted of murder.
Casey's sexual abuse and her dysfunctional family became the main focus of Tuesday's opening statements of her lawyers. Casey in a letter written in jail last year, had accused her father, George Anthony, and her brother of sexually abusing her. Baez said Casey's brother had made advances toward her and was given a paternity test to see if he was Caylee's father.
On Tuesday, prosecutors had asked George whether he had molested his daughter or committed any sexual abuse. Casey's father said No to both.
Earlier, Baez told the court that George had sexually abused her when she was only a few months old.
Just as she had hidden her sexual abuse from the public for so many years, Casey had covered Caylee's accidental death by pretending to have a job and taking Caylee to a nanny each day.
Baez said the dysfunctional Anthony hid dark secrets though it appeared normal from outside.
You will hear about ugly things, secret things, things that people don't speak about, Baez told the jury.
Caylee was reported missing on July 16, 2008. Her grandparents, George and Cindy, said they last saw Caylee alive on June 16, when Casey took her daughter from their house and left for work.
Casey's parents said she had told them that Caylee was with a baby sitter. Investigators later found the babysitter Casey mentioned didn't exist.
Three days after Caylee was last seen, Casey also stopped at her parent's house, backed her car into the garage and had borrowed a shovel from a neighbor for an hour or so.
Cindy, who had spent days trying to find her granddaughter, finally became worried and had called 911 on July 16 to report her granddaughter missing when she saw Casey's car at an impound lot.
At that time, Cindy had told the dispatcher that she could smell something foul in her daughter's car. It smells like there has been a dead body in the damn car, she had told the dispatcher.
Five months later, Roy Kronk, a meter reader, stumbled across Caylee's decomposed body in a wooded area near the Anthony family's house where he had gone to relieve himself.
An autopsy could never conclude the cause of Caylee's death.
Over the next few days, the prosecutors will weave their arguments based on on forensic evidence. Investigators and scientists will testify how they found traces of chloroform in the trunk of Casey's car, along with evidence of human decomposition. They will also say how Internet searches done on a computer at Casey's home that showed queries for chloroform, neck-breaking and alcohol were discovered by the investigators.
The prosecutors will also say how Casey would pretend to go to work everyday and tell her parents that Caylee was being watched by a series of babysitters, that Caylee had gone to a business meeting with Casey at Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa, that Caylee had gone with her to Jacksonville, that Caylee was at the beach and at a cartoon character breakfast at Universal.
However, security cameras at Orlando shopping malls and stores would place Casey in town and without her daughter. Casey's friends have also taken photographs of her the week after her daughter's disappearance that show she had participated in a hot body contest at a nightclub.
Cell phone records also showed Casey had spent nights at a boyfriend's house when her parents thought she and Caylee were out of town.
The prosecutors will try to prove Caylee died of suffocation from three pieces of duct tape being placed over her mouth and nose. The same duct tape was found in Casey's house.
Casey's lawyers will tell the jury that Caylee died by accidental drowning in the family swimming pool and Casey did not murder her. They will say Caylee never actually was missing because she had drowned in the family swimming pool. They claim Casey's father knew of the tragedy and had helped cover up the incident.
Casey should have called 911. That's what she's guilty of, she's not guilty of murder. This is not a murder case, Baez told the jury on Tuesday.
Baez also said George had planted the duct tape matching the brand later found over Caylee's mouth in a way that would implicate Casey. George Anthony took certain steps to make sure he was as far away from this situation and that Casey would end up taking the blame for this, Baez said.
If convicted, Casey could be sentenced to death.