consciousness of guilt – big?
In his recent rulings, Judge Perry used the phrase “consciousness of guilt” as it related to the Miranda and the Agents of the State motions in the State v. Casey Anthony case. After thinking about what it really means, or rather now that I have a better understanding of what it means, I realize its importance with regards to a jury’s consideration of guilt or innocence.
Standing alone, consciousness of guilt is never indicative of guilt or of innocence. For instance, the court says that “flight” after a crime could generally be indicative of consciousness of guilt. But, the flight factor could apply to innocence, too. There may be an innocent explanation to the behavior, i.e. the defendant may be perfectly innocent, but fled because they were scared. An innocent person may also behave in ways that may appear irrational due to stress or other factors. If the behavior tends to weigh more heavily on the side of guilt, the rest of the facts would have to bear it out – guilty or not guilty are certainly not judged on consciousness of guilt alone, but provides insight into why a defendant took certain actions. Judge Perry will advise the jury what consciousness of guilt means, and he will tell the jury it must not be judged alone, but should be used to support other facts in the case.
When Casey Anthony is tried, the Prosecutors will point out various behaviors that will indicate consciousness of guilt. And, the five factors used are:
- Flight Clearly this will apply as Casey hid from her family for 31 days, she avoided certain friends who might question Caylee’s whereabouts, she abandoned her car knowing it would implicate her. Did she leave her purse in the car to make it appear as if she’d been kidnapped?
- False statements We don’t need to list all the lies Casey told – it would be an exhaustive list – but all her false statements were purposeful to avoid detection. She told countless lies to hide her whereabouts from her family, she lied about Caylee’s whereabouts to everyone, etc. This is clear consciousness of guilt.
- Tampering with evidence Deleting files on her computer could be an example.
- Threatening a witness I don’t think this applies. But the Grunds have surely been hurt in this case.
- Using false names I Don’t think she used a false name, other than when she used Amy Huiezenga’s identity and emptied out her checking account.
Whenever Casey lied about what she was doing during those fateful 31 days will be used to indicate consciousness of guilt.
I must admit, this case could not get any worse for the Defense. The recent motions nailed the coffin tightly on the defense case. And, given the defense’s inability to argue the merits of their side, it is quite possible they will not prevail in the upcoming Frye hearings. The bottom line is, when placed side-by-side with the Attorney’s for the State of Florida, the defense keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. Like in the movie “Big” when Tom Hanks’ character wanted so badly to grow up, he was able to use a magic machine to grow up big and tall.
I’m afraid there’s no magic wand to help Casey Anthony’s attorneys grow big enough to challenge anyone, much less Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane-Burdick.