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Posts tagged ‘Evidence’

5
Aug

Sharing the Outrage: An Innocent Man Executed

This morning I read this New Yorker Magazine article “Trial By Fire,” on my cell phone, as I was taking my dogs out for their first walk of the day, and my teeth are still clenched. I feel like there’s this vice-grip-like anger pounding in my neck.  It’s like this astonished and futile anger and I would just like to spit.  And curse – really loud.

Shit.

But, see?  Cursing is completely pointless.  So is spitting for that matter.

And then, after reading this insanely sad article, I realize it was written in 2009!

Where the hell have I been?  Todd Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas in 2010!

Another innocent man murdered by the death penalty – murdered by our own US government.   This is the greatest country on earth, we’re so often told, and we do this?   We murder our citizens is what we do.

I sat for a while on my couch, after reading the article, with my dogs on my lap, drinking my coffee, the sun pouring in from the window behind me, and I imagine being hauled away – accused of a crime I didn’t commit.  Dudes with guns coming into my home, throwing my dogs aside and tackling me in my pajamas because they knocked on the wrong door.

And then…What if I had to go to trial with a court appointed hack as a lawyer, in a paltry town in Texas, knowing my lawyer didn’t give a rat’s ass about me because his D.U.I. cases pay his bills?  What if?

And I think – forget what if – that could be me.  I could be Todd Willingham.  It could happen to ANYONE (well, except for the very rich – they buy themselves out of those kinds of outrages).

Our justice system isn’t. Our children are being scooped up – young black children, in particular. Yes,  children, scooped up in a system that isn’t even a system anymore because it only knows quotas and profits because criminal justice is a business now.  It’s become its own criminal enterprise.

See the movie “Kids For Cash” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll understand.

Thinking about the death penalty in this country and thinking about how criminal justice is itself, criminal, is very depressing.

“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.”  Cameron Todd Willingham
 

I get so frustrated.  I want to work on this cause (to abolish the death penalty) with my whole body and soul and make it the single most important pursuit of my life.  Except I have a life with bills to pay and a mortgage that I can’t really afford because I live in Florida and got sucked into the mortgage mess.

I want to do something real.  But what?   Well, for now I can share what I read this morning – this insanely well written story in the New Yorker Magazine, by author David Grann,

Sharing the outrage.  It’s the least I can do.

The New Yorker Magazine article tells the story of how one woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, teacher and playwright, befriended Todd Willingham, while he was on Death Row, learned about his story, and fought to save his life.  She would have succeeded, too, if Rick Perry hadn’t intervened by ignoring the appeals and the new exculpatory evidence in the case (evidence which would have exonerated Todd Willingham).

Instead, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, had him killed.

Bastard. Shit-head. Fucking Lunatic.

Excuse me while I go spit.

Resources:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s website:

http://camerontoddwillingham.com/

A Movie about the case:

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/film/incendiary-the-willingham-case

A CNN clip

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27
Aug

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013. A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial. Read more »

2
Apr

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013.

A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.

I wrote about Zimmerman in the past, the article below I wrote in April, 2012.   I wanted to write about the Zimmerman case, as I had written about the Casey Anthony trial, but couldn’t bring myself to do it – knowing that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

That may sound odd, but the truth is, the horribleness of this case, and now its outcome, is terribly depressing.  Life is hard enough, I thought then, why go down that road of despair?  How could I write everything that needs to be said about the case and the verdict?

It’s too important to be taken lightly or to simply “blog” about.

I feel that writing about this moment in history is so serious and would take such devotion on my part, that I’d need to give it my full, undivided, attention – to do it justice.

So, instead of writing about it, I let it simmer in me.

The simmer – what I feel is not exactly “rage”, but its cousin.

I think of this case and its outcome every single day and now, today, Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, is asking the state of Florida to cover Zimmerman’s bill! Yes, a million would cover it, thank-you-very-much-Florida.

So, I’m outraged more.  Paying Zimmerman’s legal bill????

Really?!!

It’s UNFAIR.  At least on moral ground.  As for legal ground, I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. It must be legal for O’Mara to ask, and I don’t blame him for asking – that’s what lawyers do.  But, shouldn’t O’Mara at least try to walk on a higher ground?  Couldn’t he let the people of Florida get over this before pouring salt into this still bleeding wound?  Haven’t we suffered enough over this terrible tragedy?

Makes me angry. Really angry.

Zimmerman never apologized, as far as I know. And during the trial, he never showed one ounce of remorse for the murder (it will always be murder no matter what the verdict of 6 people.) of a defenseless young teenager.

A child with loving parents. Strong parents. Good parents.

The jury didn’t see Trayvon the child.  They didn’t see him for the child he was; they saw him as a young hoodie-wearing-soon-to-be-hoodlum-because-they-knew-that’s-what-all-young-black-men-are.

Had the jury thought of Trayvon as THEIR son, as THEIR child, I don’t think they could have let Zimmerman walk away, get away, with murder.

No. The jury didn’t see their child.  They didn’t see their duty to protect this child – their child.

The jury saw a young black man, probably up to no good, and a good, upstanding man with a license to kill, doing what good white men do – stand their ground because they have a gun to do it with.

What does this say to young men today? It says: Beware – you are targets in Florida.  Don’t drink your Arizona Ice Tea or your Skittles while black.

I have friends who, over the years, have referred to their status as a citizen behind the wheel of an automobile (especially an expensive car), as “Driving While Black.”  They have to be hyper-vigilant and it’s incredibly sad – beyond the beyond of disgusting.

It’s a given that young black men are racially targeted; it’s a given they are profiled; it’s a given they are increasingly disadvantaged economically and socially, but must we pour more money to the Gun-toting Southern white man’s sense of superiority?

Let’s give more money to the cracker-ass white men like Zimmerman who think nothing of starving their beast.

But, don’t get me started.

April 2, 2012: In Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, the character of Richard – who will do anything to be King of England – accuses Lord Hastings of all things foul, and thus Hastings is murdered.

In a video revealed today by ABC News, George Zimmerman’s head (as he’s being led out of a police car), appears injured and red.  Does the fact that Zimmerman appears to have an injured head make any difference?

No. No. A thousand times, no.

Photo by Getty, courtesy Huffington Post.

However, it IS important insofar as it supports Zimmerman’s claim to have acted in self-defense, claiming he’d been  attacked by Trayvon Martin.

Yeah. And, so what?

As we know, Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, stating that the young man, armed with a very dangerous bag of Skittles, pounded his head into the ground and bloodied his nose……

Wait.  Back up.  We don’t know if that is true or not!  And even if it is true, so what?!

Like the sign the guy in the above photo is holding – “They never stop & frisk old white guys like me.”  (I love that he’s wearing a blindfold like Lady Justice in the photo.)

It’s true.  We live in the land of the free, where people, no matter who they are, should be able to walk down any street while eating candy as it rains.

Just My Opinion:

Here’s what I think may have happened that night:

  1. Zimmerman sees a young man in his neighborhood that he does not recognize and calls the police.  Why?  Because Zimmerman realizes that the boy is black.  Strike one against Trayvon, he’s walking while black.  Clearly in Zimmerman’s mind that spells trouble.
  2. While Zimmerman is talking to the police operator, during his first call, it sounds like he’s walking.  Was he following Trayvon?  (Oh, he’s following in self-defense – that’s right, I forgot that detail.)
  3. Trayvon surely must sense that he’s being followed, or stalked by a man he doesn’t recognize.
  4. Does Trayvon fear Zimmerman because he’s white?  Possibly.  But more likely, he’s afraid because he’s being watched and followed.  I would be terrified.
  5. Zimmerman hangs up with the dispatch, talks to the Police who tell him NOT to take action.
  6. Does Zimmerman continue to stalk / follow Trayvon?  Does Zimmerman get too close?  Does he purposely appear threatening?  Does he brandish his gun?
  7. If Zimmerman brandished his gun, Trayvon may have, in a fight for his life, attempted to disable Zimmerman – separate him from his gun, to save his young life.
  8. Did Zimmerman lay hands on Trayvon maybe to question him?  Why?  He’s not a police-person.
  9. Common sense tells me Zimmerman was likely holding his gun.  People who carry guns do so because they want to use them. That’s just common sense, right?
  10. Did Trayvon see that gun and try to save his life by jumping on Zimmerman to try to disarm him?
  11. Was Zimmerman too strong for Trayvon?
  12. Did Trayvon, realizing he is no match against Zimmerman, now try to run away to save his life?  Or did he fall, screaming out and afraid of the man and the gun?

These things we may never really know, but we do know that Trayvon was crying out, afraid that he was going to be shot.  Who shoots to kill someone who’s unarmed and crying?

I will not go so far as to say Zimmerman murdered the young Trayvon because I do not know what really happened.  I only know there is something very wrong and a young man with an Ice Tea and a bag of candy should not be gunned down.

Florida and it’s NRA – written, Jeb Bush backed “Stand Your Ground” law is horrifying, senseless, and unconstitutional as far as I am concerned. The Second Amendment to the Constitution did not want a bunch of Zimmerman’s running around, in my opinion.

So, I won’t say “Off with his head,” about Zimmerman.  If he’s guilty of manslaughter or murder, he’ll have his day in court.  He’ll face Florida laws, which is what I’m afraid of.

11
Aug

a DCF report in the Anthony case concludes….

Today, a Department of Children and Families (DCF) report was released with regards to the death of Caylee Marie Anthony.  The DCF called Casey Anthony responsible for the “Maltreatments of Death, Threatened Harm, and Failure to Protect.”   Their 12-page report itemized the neglectful responsibility which led to the death of Caylee:

Anthony’s actions were “neglectful.”  She failed to “report her child missing in a timely manner” and left her in the care of “a baby-sitter for which she was unable to provide accurate information.

The report stopped short at naming how Caylee died since the autopsy report concluded it was not possible to determine the cause of death.

Here is a link to the report: Department of Children and Families (DCF) report.

Reading this report tonight, with its details and thorough timeline of events, once again brought back my feeling that the jury in the case against Casey Anthony, completely failed to do their civic duty for Caylee, the victim.

This jury took the easy way out by deciding to err on the side of caution and vote Not Guitly.

Well, after all, they did not have adequate time to debate the facts of the case because they sure wanted out of Dodge .  This jury had cruises to go on; there were children to get home to, animals to care for; jobs to return to, and lives to live.  There was no time to consider the evidence since they knew in their heart that they had all the doubt that the defense dumped on them.  All the cow manure that was shoveled in their lap by the defense team, made no difference.  (Even cow manure has value, they may have concluded.)

Did they try to reason with one another by concluding, “A dead child will still be dead whether Casey walks or faces death?”   Apparently they never heard Dr. G. say Caylee’s death was homicide.   Did they only hear, “death by an undetermined means,” and in their warped conclusions, “undetermined means” meant “homicide” was not proven?

The people on this jury were just plain lazy.  They all decided that there were too many unanswered questions.  Had they taken the time to weigh the KNOWN facts of the case (evidence), against what they felt was UNKNOWN, you would think the pile of the knowns would exceed the pile of unknowns.  Right?

Who drove the car with the smell of death?  Who had the most to gain from Caylee’s death?  Who was the primary care-giver during the time of Caylee’s “disappearance?”   Just those three things, by themselves, tell a damning tale about responsibility.

So, this DCF report brought my anger out, again.

Soon the jurors names will be released to the public.  No doubt they will be bombarded with questions and comments. I have no desire to hear from them.

I hope these jurors will slink away and stay clear of the limelight.  I hope they’ve each come to the realization that it’s not a good idea to profit from their jury experience in this case.

Casey Anthony was just voted the most hated person in America.  The individual jury members may well join her on the list should they not choose to go gentle into that good night.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
  ~Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

It is difficult now to go back and think about the trial and its outcome in light of this report.  It only serves to remind us that justice did not happen for Caylee, but it did for Casey.

I can’t live with anger.  Holding on to any anger over what happened only hurts me.

I guess all that’s left is to forgive and forget (in between the times when I cringe and want to cry).

30
Jul

georgia jaywalking mom gets probation; son’s killer is out of jail

You may have heard about this awful case about a mother, Raquel Nelson, 30,who was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide for the death of her 4 year old little boy?

On Tuesday, a Marietta Georgia judge sentenced her to one year probation and the opportunity for a new trial to clear her name.

Hold on, that’s only part of the story.

The story is this: In April of 2010, Raquel Nelson, anxious to get her children home before it got dark, was crossing a 4 lane highway with her three children.  Suddenly, one of her 2 daughters dashed off of the median and 4 year old, A.J., rushed after her.  That was when a van, driven by two-time hit-and-run driver, plowed into AJ, killing him.  Raquel and her daughter were struck also, but survived.

The driver of the car fled the scene.  The mother was charged; a jury found her guilty.

Her crime?  Jay-walking.

Raquel Nelson, say the authorities, had crossed the street away from the designated crosswalk, which was half-a-mile away.  (Her apartment was on the other side of the street, precisely where they crossed.)

The neighborhood, and residents of the apartment complex had long begged the city of Marietta Georgia to put a crosswalk there, it never happened.

AJ, 4. Credit: Today Show

Sometimes I am certain the government goes mad with power.  They sure did in this case.  Raquel, desperate and grieving the loss of her precious 4 year old, is ARRESTED and CHARGED!!!

What happened, you may ask, to the driver who killed the boy?  The driver who also FLED the SCENE.  The driver who has had 2 previous DUI’s?

What happened to him?

Well, he plead guilty to hit and run, and got six months.

Six months???

What is wrong here?

Here’s where this story gets incredibly maddening.  Raquel, found guilty of vehicular manslaughter, could have faced up to three years of prison, far less than the drunk driver who killed her son.

The driver who killed A.J., had been drinking, taking painkillers, and was blind in one eye. In addition, he was convicted TWICE before in prior hit-and-run convictions.  For his part in this 2010 crime, Jerry Guy, the driver, served six months of a five-year sentence for hit and run in this case.

Due to a huge public outcry, Raquel was spared prison time – the Judge gave her one year of probation with community service, and an opportunity for a new trial – to clear her name.

Raquel Nelson. Credit: Today Show

Given all these facts about the driver, the State Prosecutors choose to charge the grieving mother?

Well, the cold as ice State Attorney’s Office would say, “She admitted to Jay-Walking….”  Or, they’d say, “She admitted that she was wrong….”

WHAT?

I jaywalk everyday when I walk my dog.

For God’s sake, I never even think about Jay-Walking.  I know the police have passed me right by as I stand there waiting to cross the street with my dog.

Is it because I am white?

God help me for saying that, but something is very wrong here.  Although, the driver and the victims are black….  So. Maybe not.

But, Georgia is populated with some good ole’ Southerners.   So…. Maybe.

I do not know the make-up of the jurors, but not one of them has had to use mass transit as transportation.

This is clear over-prosecution, say legal experts.  There is NO evidence of ANY kind of negligence of the mother.

What kind of despicable government agency would even THINK to charge a woman who is out of her mind at having just seen her son die???

It makes me so mad.

Raquel Nelson, appearing on the TODAY show this past week, is the picture of grace when she said:

I’ve had to accept that he’s gotten six months, there’s nothing I can do about it.  I’ve had to forgive that portion of it. However, I think to come after me so much harder than they did him, it’s a slap in the face. This will never end for me.

“…Forgive that portion of it,” she said.  That’s why I say Raquel Nelson is the picture of grace.

By the way, the city of Marietta is considering putting in a crosswalk now.

I don’t want to be too cynical and say:  “Too little, too late.”

Well, I just did.

20
Jul

update: Leiby Kletzky

The Missing Flyer for Leiby Kletzky

The Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles J. Hynes, announced today that a grand jury had handed down an eight-count indictment against the animal, Levi Aron.  Aron is charged with the horrific kidnapping, murder and dismemberment of eight year old, Leiby Kletzky.

The most serious of the charges facing Aron are two counts of felony murder.  They carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Aron was also charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping in the first degree and one count of kidnapping in the second degree.

Aron is currently being held in a psychiatric ward at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.  His lawyers are suggesting Aron’s defense could be insanity; they have also made passing mention of “diminished capacity.”   A diminished capacity defense is a partial defense and suggests that although the defendant is not deemed “insane,”  they are not aware of their actions and do not have the capacity to comprehend actions they may have taken.  In this defense, the defendant does not refute they committed the crime, they only contend the state of mind (due to physical and/or emotional factors), was such that the defendant should not be judged to have committed premeditated, or felony, murder.

Attorney’s are claiming that Aron hears voices and must play very loud music to drown the voice out.  He also suffers from hallucinations.

The medical examiners office said the boy was drugged prior to being suffocated by Aron, who murdered the little guy after realizing there were hundreds of people looking for the him in the community.  Aron stated that he “panicked” after seeing the flyers that alerted the community that Leiby was missing.

The insanity defense is very difficult to prove. I don’t think it will fly in this case.  Well, it will be interesting what the defense comes up with in this awful case.

More on this story as it evolves.

As for the Casey Anthony case…. The madness continues with very little new news.

19
Jul

84 searches for chloroform – NOT! Give OCSO its CacheBack, please

It was much ado about nothing.

The brouhaha today regarding the initial dramatic testimony given by State witness John Dennis Bradley, the designer of the software “CacheBack,” that there were 84 searches for Chloroform, was a big story today.

But, this is a non-story.   It is neither an admission or a State error; nor was it an attempt to hang on to exculpatory evidence, as many reporters and bloggers have recently said.

Granted, this WAS dramatic testimony originally – it would have been damning evidence – had it been true.

The State of Florida corrected this in its rebuttal case.  Additionally, you may remember, it was never referred to in their closing arguments.  Why?  Because in its rebuttal case, the correct number of searches for the word Chloroform, using the UPDATED CacheBack software, was only ONCE.

One time. One search. Not 84 searches.  And this was made, although not abundantly clear by Linda Drane-Burdick, it was clarified when another expert computer witness testified during the State’s rebuttal case.

Casey Anthony, searched for chloroform ONE time – perhaps once is not enough to establish premeditation.  And that is the sticking point, too.  If the jury had considered 84 searches in their deliberations, it would have been a serious problem.  (The jury never considered any evidence, so we know this is a moot point, anyway.)

Oh, and although the chloroform search was singular, she also searched for:

  • Internal bleeding,
  • Ruptured spleen,
  • Death,
  • Self-defense,
  • Chest trauma,
  • Household weapons,
  • Hand to hand combat,
  • Neck Breaking, and
  • Internal Bleeding.

Might she have had murder on her mind?

Regardless, the State of Florida protected the record, I believe, by the testimony of the witness who said that when CacheBack had upgraded its software and analyzed the same data with the new and improved software, there were NOT 84 search instances.  There was only one.

It is in Mr. Bradley’s best interest to make hay out of this story to market his company and software. Perhaps he was getting unfavorable press as a result of the error that was exposed?

In deference to Mr. Bradley, he makes a good point when he stated that  although it was the Orange County Sherrif’s Office (OCSO) that had used his software to find the 84 Google searches, he points out that the OCSO should have validated those findings another way, but they did not do so.

Aha!  Now, he owns up.  Blame it on the OCSO.  How conveeeenient!

Uh, well, the OCSO was convinced this software was reliable!  They did not realize it would give back FALSE data.

When the software was updated, the test was rerun, and it was then discovered that his software, the earlier version, was not correct.

Isn’t it convenient for Mr. Bradley to blame the OCSO now?

I am not a lawyer, but it appears that had Casey Anthony been found guilty (of something) and convicted, this would NOT be reversible error because the truth of the matter is on the record in the rebuttal case.

And, if this was really an issue, Jose Baez would have made some comment about it, but I believe he has been largely quiet on this non issue.

Granted, Cheney Mason was quoted in the NY Times article as being appalled at this.   “Outrageous!” said the nimble-fingered Mr. Mason.  (I don’t think Mr. Mason caught all the testimony in this case, frankly.)

Mr. Bradley, the computer expert, believed that the State and the police were negligent in its work by not correcting the record.

The record was corrected.  It truly was much ado about nothing.  Kind of like Mr. Todd Macoluso having fun with the media by dressing a woman up in the same clothes that Casey Anthony wore in her release from jail, and running this “decoy” with a coat over her face, until she was out of sight on Orlando’s Executive airport.

It drove the news outlets into a tizzy!  All of a sudden the headlines began to sing:  “Casey Sighting in Orlando!”

Todd will have a good laugh over this for days to come!

8
Jul

juror groupthink, learning, listening & the system

The news about the acquittal of Casey Anthony, in her First Degree murder trial, is only a couple of days old and still the stories have legs like spiders weaving more sticky situations.

There will be questions and stories for days to come. I’d always thought that once Casey Anthony was sent to jail for the rest of her life, this story would fade away until it became a small memory in our minds.

The acquittal of Casey Anthony, completely unexpected by virtually everyone, including the media, is now a story with enormous interest.   Now that a complete acquittal has occurred, this story will drag on longer than necessary, because we need answers.

The media is all over every second of the story, and I can’t help but follow the news, tweets, and the stories that continue to come out.  That’s because, I am still in shock, I guess.

One recent story is Casey Anthony will have to appear before the glaring lens of the depo-cam in the law office of Morgan and Morgan!  This is in regards to the  civil case filed by Zenaida Gonzales, the person who was originally thought to be the real “Zanny the Nanny,” but was quickly cleared.  To have Casey Anthony in front of the camera for this civil deposition will be huge news, and certainly very interesting.

This Zenaida Gonzales has claimed she lost her good name, her job, her car, and was kicked out of her apartment because of being associated with the disappearance of Caylee.  I don’t have an opinion about this, though I am thankful for Morgan and Morgan for pursuing this case!

The video deposition is scheduled for July 19th; two days after Casey Anthony is released from jail.  The subpoena was delivered to Casey Anthony already.  It’s not clear to me if she can ignore this subpoena or not.  I wouldn’t think so, but one never knows!

The News of Late

The media is telling us, Casey Antony’s jail sentence will end July 17th, on a Sunday versus the original date, July 13th.  The additional four days were added by the Department of Corrections when it was discovered they miscalculated time served.

The costs of the prosecution of Casey Anthony are being calculated by the State Attorney’s Office; HLN reports the numbers could be in the area of $500,000.

Lighting struck a tall tree in the area where Caylee’s remains were found and the TV hosts were all over it, anxious for manic responses like, “It’s a sign, it’s a sign!  God has spoken!”

I don’t mean to belittle any of these kinds of divine intervention beliefs. But I’d be more apt to ask, “If God were to gesture to earthly beings, wouldn’t He want attention to focus on the millions of children suffering in Haiti, Africa, and even in the US, as children are going hungry on our very own soil?”

A darling Caylee, was brutally murdered in Orlando Florida, and the one charged with caring for her will soon be living “La Vida Loca.”  But, our justice system has spoken, though I believe justice got this one wrong.

The jurors are human beings like me and you.  Our world can be unfair; there is injustice everywhere and no where are there easy answers.  It is difficult to rationalize why.

The Jury System – Broken?

There was a dialog in the 1990’s about changing the jury system when the OJ Simpson jurors got it so wrong.  How to revamp the juror system would be a positive dialog to have.

Having regular human beings judge a complicated murder case, where a life is on the line, does not make sense to me.

They are to be the “Trier of Fact” and I believe in the jury system totally and completely, but times have changed.  Trials are sophisticated events.

Jurors are not lawyers, and we expect so much from them.  We expect them to deduce and reason like lawyers, but they are regular folks with regular lives and worries and issues.  They are not active participants in the process, they are passive listeners though we ask them to listen actively.

Active listening is very difficult when it is one-sided.  I am quite sure they  only really heard ten percent of the evidence.

Adults Learning and Listening

There is research into Adult Learning that tells us that human beings can only retain a minimal percentage of what is heard – the percentage is between 2% and 10%.

If you think back to the lectures in high school or college that you listened to – what did you learn, really?  How much of that lecture do you think you retained?

What Jose Baez did with the defense exhibits – using pictures of the evidence and pictures of witnesses, although it seemed really simple, was extremely effective as a learning tool for the jurors, in my opinion.  These exhibits were a sort of “job aid” for the jurors to use to help them frame the concepts of the case in their minds.

There’s a great deal of learning required of jurors during a trial.  But, helping jurors to learn is not the goal of our system of justice.

Courts do not present evidence or testimony from a learning/retention perspective.  But, it would behoove lawyers to use Adult Learning theories in the way they communicate to jurors.

Did Deliberation Occur?

It is being reported that some jurors originally voted for guilt but changed their minds.  Could the bond and the closeness that the jurors formed have anything to do with changing their minds?

I wonder if sequestration for such a long time is detrimental to individual thinking?

And, I wonder if the jurors cared more about each other than they did their duty?

You never can tell what kind of dynamic was at play – group dynamics can be confounding and it would take a strong person to stand alone in such an environment.

There’s that phenomenon called “Groupthink” that could have come into play in the relationship of the jurors as a group. Psychologist Irving Janis, coined the term and defined Groupthink.

I learned about the phenomenon of Gropthink in relation to group dynamics in the workplace, but it can be defined in every group situation.  Fortunately, it is not always present in every group.

Irving Janis defines Groupthink this way:

…occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”

Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions…

A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.   Source:  Janis, Irving L.  (1972). Victims of Groupthink.

One of the jurors, reportedly, was going to miss a cruise if the jury did not come to a decision by a certain time.  Was this a popular juror in the crowd?  Did the jurors want to be sure to decide quickly to ensure the cruise went as planned?  Maybe.  But, I think Judge Perry would have stepped in to help that situation so the juror did not lose money.

I’m at a loss for answers, but I do realize it’s futile to expect answers as to why justice for Caylee was heinously denied.  Or was it?  Not according to Cheney Mason, Jose Baez, or Dorothy Sims.

This is our system and, like it or not, they will say it worked.

I disagree that the outcome was justice, but I respect it nonetheless and realize that common sense was not common here…

6
Jul

not innocent

To say the verdict in the State v. Casey Anthony is shocking is an understatement.

I am dazed, overwhelmed at this jury decision.  Are we in an alternate reality where wrong is right and right is wrong?  It seems so to me.

But, I have to accept it.

Even though Casey Anthony was found not guilty yesterday, it does not mean she is innocent of the death of her daughter.

Apparently, the jury did not have an abiding and sure belief of guilt.  And I have to accept and appreciate their decision.

But, it’s difficult to do this because I see this as a miscarriage of justice.  Then again, a worse miscarriage would be finding an defendant guilty when they are innocent.

That would be far worse, and so I’m taking that to the bank.

What went wrong?

Some Legal Eagles and Talking Heads are saying, “Well this verdict is an example that the system worked.”   I can’t quite agree with that, but I do understand that I have to accept the verdict because this is our system, and it’s the best in the world.

I think the heart of this decision boils down to the jury not wanting to have the burden of sending Casey to jail for the rest of her life.  Maybe they thought if their decision was wrong, it’s better to be wrong via an acquittal then to be wrong via finding guilt.

My belief in Casey’s guilt is abiding, and I think the jury made a decision that speaks to their fear of getting it wrong, so they erred on the side of caution.

We all believed that because the jury took only eleven hours to come to their verdict, they must have found her guilty.  I was so sure that was the case.  I can’t help wondering that this jury did not delve into the evidence because they wanted or needed to get home.

My head tells me, this jury, who are supposedly people without vendettas, without prejudice, without agendas, have made the best decision because we have trusted them to do so, and twelve of them have sacrificed two months of their individual lives to fulfill their promise.

And so, I should accept the jury’s verdict, just as Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton so gracefully accepts it.  I’m struggling with this.  Really struggling.

Jeff Ashton was on the Today Show this morning.  He has accepted with grace and understanding this verdict.  Watch Jeff Ashton on the Today Show:   http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/43651905#43651905

So, what went wrong?  I never, never expected things to go this wrong.  How did it happen to go so wrong?  Were Casey Anthony’s parents partly to blame because of all the lies they told?  Did the family muddy the water just enough that the jury did not know who to believe?  Did the jurors think that the garbage in Casey’s car explained the smell of decomposition?  Did they believe Jose Baez’s claim that Caylee’s death was a tragic accident?  Did the jury sympathize with Casey and did not want her to pay with the rest of her life?  If that is the case, what about Caylee?  Were they only thinking about Casey and nothing about Caylee?

The charge must fit the crime.

Did the State of Florida overcharge Casey Anthony?

The charges, though fitting of the crime in my view, must fit the jury’s ability to grasp all of the elements of the crime.  Was the case so convoluted and muddied to such an extent by the defense, they took reasonable doubt to an even higher standard?  No cause of death. No eye witness. No CSI moments.  Just a lot of circumstantial evidence.

The death penalty and circumstantial evidence may be a hard sell for a sentence of death, or life in jail.

Did publicity hurt this case?

Scott Peterson was convicted of Capital Murder with much less evidence. That trial was not televised.  Did the TV play too big of a part in this case?  Did the transparent and liberal public records law in Florida damage the case?

I read so much of the discovery in this case, there was no doubt in my mind of who was responsible for this crime.

If the State of Florida had to do it again, would the charges start with 2nd degree murder?  I believe, though in hindsight, this would have been just since the cause of death, tragically, was ruled unknown.

Had Caylee been found the first time Roy Kronk relieve himself in those woods, it would have been a very different case, obviously.

There are many more questions than there are answers.

Theory of the Defense

I believe that Jose Baez and team floated theories that were deceiving and not at all a search for the truth.  I felt this defense team was unethical.  Do they teach trickery in law schools?

Why couldn’t the jurors see the tricks and the deception of the defense team?

I truly thought that a reasonable person should see through the smoke and mirrors and see what the defendant did to her very own child.

Why didn’t this jury at least ask themselves, “What is reasonable about not reporting a child’s absence for 31 days?”   Answer?   It is NOT reasonable!  It would never be reasonable!

Didn’t the State of Florida make it clear that this mother NEVER, for 31 days, cared one bit for her child and lied about her whereabouts?

Did the jury buy the drowning accident?  I think they must have. Didn’t they want evidence of drowning?

Was this jury just so anxious to get home?  Is that why they did not review the evidence?

What’s reasonable?

When reasonable doubt is the standard, shouldn’t the penalty be reasonable, too?

Reasonable doubt is a high standard, as it should be.  If this standard did not exist, the possibility of a Police State could easily become our governing system of justice.

To me, reason and justice are entwined.  Maybe the problem is that reason means different things to different people.   Is it as simple as knowing right from wrong?  Not exactly.

I think reasonable doubt is sometimes an unreasonable concept for people to understand.  This is the “reasonable doubt” the jurors were told to apply, as written in their jury instructions:

Whenever the words “reasonable doubt” are used you must consider the following:

A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt.

Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable.

It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.

A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence or the lack of evidence.

If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.

Because the definition both of “reasonable” and “doubt” are subjective, it stands to reason why the court attempts to define it in such as way as “reasonable” people can apply their own ethical thermometer to the amount (or level) of reasonable doubt they apply to the question of guilt or non-guilt.

Reasonable: 

adj.1 having sound judgment. 2 not absurd. 3a not excessive; inexpensive. b tolerable; fair.

Doubt:

n.1 uncertainty; undecided state of mind. 2 inclination to disbelieve. 3 uncertain state of things. 4 lack of full proof.  v.1 tr. feel uncertain or undecided about. 2tr. hesitate to believe or trust. 3intr. feel uncertain or undecided.  4 tr.  call in question.

My reason tells me:

  • A child in the woods whose face is covered in duct tape is wrong.
  • An accident made to look like a murder is wrong.
  • A mother not reporting her child missing is wrong.
  • A car with the smell of human decomposition means something is wrong, just as Cindy Anthony said, “There’s something wrong…”
  • A mother thinking her life is beautiful now her child is gone, is that mother’s right, but it is wrong by every ethical standard.
  • A Father molesting a daughter is wrong.  Did it happen?  There is no proof either way except a liar says it is so.

I also think that how a person’s individual definition of right and wrong plays into their understanding of reasonable doubt. What I think is wrong and what you think is wrong, may be different.

Maybe this is problematic with juries.  Maybe we need a better way to define what reasonable doubt means.  It would be good to give examples to jurors.

Or, maybe we could give potential jurors a test – if they fail this test, they cannot be jurors!

That may be prejudicial though.

How about we change laws about lawyer credentials – insist they take a test to prove that integrity and ethics are values they hold dear.

If only.

3
Jul

can you blame him?

Drama was in full swing today when Jose Baez, during his over-the-top argument to the jury, suddenly screams, pointing to Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton, and says “…that laughing guy!”

And, well, Ashton was smirking, there’s no doubt about it.  Regardless, it completely infuriated Judge Perry when he heard Baez shout, “that laughing guy.”

SUSTAINED,” Judge Perry screamed at the same time Jeff Ashton bellowed, “OBJECTION!”

Judge Perry immediately sent the jurors out, while the attorneys went into chambers.  Then, the next thing we knew, the Judge, in his shirt and tie, is seen stomping in the courtroom hallway flanked by three uniformed police officers.  Everyone thought contempt charges were imminent.  The thought of Jeff Ashton being charged with contempt was horrifying; a nail-biting time.  Thankfully, Judge Perry softened, giving the attorney’s another chance to maintain decorum as the Judge had previously ordered they do.

It is unclear to me whether Mr. Baez was going to face contempt as well.   It seemed obvious that the real infraction had to do with Jeff Ashton’s facial expressions – he’d tried to hide a smile by putting his hand over his mouth, making Baez livid.  Frankly, I can’t blame him.  Jose’s antics were maddening and laughable at the same time.  Nonetheless, Ashton was wrong to react as he did.

I was shocked not only that this serious situation was playing out in the courtroom, but also at what Jose Baez did to help the situation.  Mr. Baez, magnanimously, asked Judge Perry to not hold Mr. Ashton in contempt.  He then apologized for getting caught up in the moment.   After both attorneys apologized the proceedings continued as usual.

Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton - video snip of InSession video stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dramatic day began with a brilliant and cohesive closing argument by Jeff Ashton.  The State’s opening lasted only 77 minutes.  Baez and Cheney Mason (who literally put me to sleep), used the full four hours given to them to argue their case.

Jeff Ashton methodically laid out the lies Casey told.  Ashton noted Casey Anthony’s ability to keep her lies together was a result of her intelligence.  She’s a smart girl, he told the jurors, she seamlessly moves from lie to lie to lie.  “Her lies are impressive,” Mr. Ashton, added, with a good dose of cynicism.

I began to take notes as I listened to Ashton, but abandoned them because his argument became incredibly compelling and I didn’t want to miss a word!

Mr. Ashton pointed out that Casey needed to do away with Caylee because she was beginning to talk and could inadvertently blow Casey’s cover.  If George or Cindy had asked Caylee about Zanny, it would be all over for Casey.  Therefore, argued Mr. Ashton, Casey needed to “get rid” of this problem.

Ashton described how the three pieces of Henkel duct tape were applied to Caylee, and were proof of premeditation.  The first piece of tape covered her mouth, the next piece covered her nose, and the third piece placed over the two previous pieces to ensure the air was blocked.

And, like so many of us hope and pray, Ashton said, “One can only hope that that chloroform was used beforehand (before the tape was applied).”

In a very poignant moment Mr. Ashton pointed out the terrible irony that the tape used to kill Caylee, was also used by George Anthony to implore people to find her – to hang the missing Caylee posters.

The Baez Closing

Jose Baez began his argument rather weakly, then built up steam, only to climax in the middle of his argument into a screaming meme!  Baez kept this loud, angry, screaming tone that had to get old fast for the jurors. How would you feel if someone is less than three feet in front of you and screaming their head off for three and a half hours?

Baez’s arguments were sustained in excess of ten times during his argument.   Though many talking heads were praising Jose’s work.  Even my favorite attorney, Bill Shaeffer, gave Baez a B-plus.

Granted, Baez made some good points, but he never got any “ah-ha” moments, in my estimation.  I felt his arguments fell flat with a loud bang.  And, Baez was really sarcastic and used the word “slut” in relation to Casey Anthony three or four times.  He called her a liar, too.  Childish, in my view.

In his argument, Baez heaped much of the blame on George Anthony, of course.  Roy Kronk was a target, still, too.  Baez called the State’s evidence “a fantasy.”

It was painful to listen to Jose Baez today as he twisted facts and massaged testimony to benefit the defense.  It’s very aggravating to write about Baez’s closing – it was so annoying I nearly turned it off.  And then, Cheney Mason got up to speak and he lulled me right to sleep so I missed the majority of his closing.

Baez had quite a number of visual aids.  The visuals were nicely done and expensive looking.  Baez had the pictures of the witnesses on magnets and then shifted them into groups on a poster board, aligning and moving the photos according to the story he wanted to spin as he trashed the State’s case.

The jurors were tired; Judge Perry, sensitive to their needs, saw that they were and the day concluded for them at 6:30 pm.

The lawyers and Judge Perry had not agreed on the Jury Instructions, they worked through lunch and into the evening to finalize both the jury instructions and the charging document for the jury to use.  They recessed at approximately 8:00 tonight.

Tomorrow, the State of Florida will finish their closing arguments beginning at 8:30 am. Linda Drane-Burdick will begin for the State.  I hope Jeff Ashton has an opportunity to argue again, too.  I hope that Frank George is given an opportunity to argue as well.

Today was pretty amazing, and tomorrow will seal the deal for the State.

They will state their case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt for this jury.

No doubt here!

1
Jul

when does justice begin?

Here we are, Friday morning, waiting for the continuance of the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony, and shenanigans are in full swing by a defense team in a boat with gaping holes and no paddles.

The Court is in an indefinite recess this morning while the defense deposes State rebuttal witnesses.

Interestingly, the defense is charging  that the State is “ambushing” them “again” by failing to disclose reports or information about computer searches, and about issues regarding a forensic anthropologist/toxicologist, rebutting testimony by the skull-clutching, Dr. Werner Spitz.

The Defense rested yesterday only to realize how deeply they’ve sunk, how desperate they are.  The defense has not raised a scintilla of doubt about anything Baez promised in his opening.

The defense has put on an empty case – an empty search for the truth as it is demanded by true justice.  It’s quite interesting that Jose Baez’ website is still as empty as the case it just rested.

Justice does not BEGIN with this defense team, as Baez Law Firm website says, it snoozes and is entirely lost:

It’s as if this empty website is a ruse or a facade because there are no working links still, after three years.

Furthermore, the photo on this website has the caption:  “BATTLE OF JAILHOUSE TAPES.”

We know, there was NEVER a battle over the Jailhouse tapes!  As a result of the jailhouse tapes, Jose Baez was totally humiliated.  The jailhouse tapes had disparaging comments from the Anthony family about Mr. Baez’ motivation and abilities to represent Casey.

Perjury?

I have some doubt the defense knew Cindy Anthony was going to LIE about being at home and searching for Chloroform.  However, Jose KNOWS that Cindy has lied in the past, however, whether Jose put on false testimony via Cindy would be difficult to prove. After all, Jose has to present testimony and evidence if its exculpatory, the State of Florida must provide all exculpatory evidence as well.

But, Cindy’s testimony has nothing to do with discovery or exculpatory evidence. There should be no surprise that the State moved to verify Cindy’s testimony as FALSE.  The State will prove Cindy was at work when those computer searches happened, they will also prove there  were  NO searches for Chlorophyll either, as Cindy testified to.  And the State will further PROVE Cindy did not have remote access to her work computer (from home).

There should be NO surprise to the Defense that the State of Florida has proved Cindy is a bald-faced liar, desperate to assist her daughter.

If the state of Florida puts Casey Anthony at that computer, making those 84 searches for “How to Make Chloroform,”  it is most damaging and goes to premeditation.  The State, if they prove this, will move very, very close to proving this aggravating factor for the death penalty:

The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.

Rebutting Dr. Spitzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In its rebuttal case, the State of Florida will put on evidence to directly rebut Dr. Spitz’ testimony about the “cranial wash” and whether it is protocol to open the skull of a victim.

So, we wait this morning.  The trial is going to start again soon.  This is simply delaying the inevitable and ultimate sinking of the defense dingy.

30
Jun

a dog day afternoon

In the IMDb (Internet Movie Database), for the movie, Dog Day Afternoon, it says:

A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

In the case being tried right now in Orlando, The State of Florida v. Casey Anthony, it was a real dog day as the Anthony defense team focused on the Anthony family pet burials, and the testimony benefited the State of Florida.

A Dog Will Have its Day

Had the Anthony defense team stipulated that Casey Anthony learned how to double-bag dead family dogs in a blanket, wrapped up in a bag, and taped with heavy-duty tape, it would be one thing.  BUT to HAND this testimony about burying dogs in a pet cemetery directly to the State is quite another thing, and is totally unbelievable!

The Defense asked Cindy, Lee, and George specific questions regarding the burying of animals – their intention was to illicit testimony that duct-tape was used, and George was the primary person burying the beloved dogs.

Clearly, the plan backfired in way that was justifiably poetic because one could not help but be left with the sense that Casey Anthony bagged Caylee this way because she’d learned and seen how it was done since she was a young girl.

The icing on this case was Jeff Ashton’s question on cross:

  • Jeff:  Did you ever take a dead pet and throw it in a swamp?
  • George: No.

When Cindy testified about the dying dogs, Linda Drane Burdick followed up and asked Cindy if she’d ever given her animals chloroform, or taped their mouths shut with duct-tape?

Brilliant!

The Defense Rests

It is amazing we have come this far – that the end of this case is almost here!  Indeed, today marked the end of the Defense case (unless they’re allowed to put on Sir Rebuttal testimony), and it ended with a whimper, it fell flat as a decomposing pancake.

What did the Defense prove?

In opening statements, Jose Baez promised….

  • Molestation by Lee of Casey.  No evidence of.
  • Molestation by George since age of 8.  No evidence of.
  • Drowning. Suggestive of evidence, but no direct evidence.
  • Put Duct tape in George’s hands. Proven to be available to George, and Casey.
  • Smell from garbage.  Not proven.  Too many State witnesses testified to smell of decomposition in trunk.
  • Roy Kronk in possession of body?  No evidence of.
  • George throwing Caylee in woods?  No evidence of.
  • George is a ladies man?  Possibly, but irrelevant.

Granted, it is not incumbent on the defense to put on a case; but they have put on a case, to their detriment.  I can barely think of a single fact they have proved, can you?

It appears to me that absolutely nothing was presented to support the wild claims Baez made during his opening statement.

Cindy Anthony’s Big Blunder to Save Her Daughter

Last Friday, Cindy Anthony made the grave mistake of testifying that her work records were wrong to indicate that she worked during the week of March 17th to 21st, 2008.

Although her records say she was at work, and the State understood there was no dispute of this, Cindy Anthony got on the stand and testified that she was home and had made the searches for Chloroform.

The State of Florida turned to the company where Cindy worked at that time – Gentiva – and procured those records, proving that Cindy was indeed at work and could NOT have performed the search for Chloroform.

A serious question left on the table, did Jose Baez knowingly put Cindy Anthony on the stand knowing she would LIE?????

This is a serious matter, if true.  We will hear about the fall out from this after the trial, if there is any truth to it.

River Cruz aka Crystal HollowayAn Affair to Remember?

I want to believe George’s version of this affair with Crystal Holloway; however, the conclusion I ultimately come to is, So what?

George is not on trial, his daughter, Casey, is.

In essence, I felt this testimony also backfired on the defense.  It was explained that it was Casey, not George, who Crystal indicated George was referring to when he said mentioned the “accident snowballing out of control.”  Crystal supported this and indicated that she never thought George was involved.

There were other defense dogs today, but it’s too late in the evening…

…. and I am dog-tired!

29
Jun

the courtroom as torture chamber

I find it’s difficult to write about the tumultuous day in the Orlando courtroom where Casey Anthony is being tried for the Capital Murder of her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.

It was a cruel day for George Anthony, Casey’s father.  It was not a Father’s Day for Roy Kronk, either.

If looks could kill. Photo: Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

George is an ordinary man who has made ordinary mistakes.  His love for his Granddaughter, Caylee Marie Anthony was extraordinary – more to him than life itself.

Today was a stellar day for the State of Florida, thanks to the defense team.  Jose Baez, the most despicable attorney on the face of the planet, provided the State of Florida with extra energy today.

The performance of Jose Baez, especially today, was slimy; crueler than cruel.

His courtroom performance demonstrates, at least to me, why he should be immediately disbarred at the close of this horrendous case.

Baez tortured George Anthony today for hours.  Is this American Justice?  Can this be what our system is becoming?

When did the courtroom become a witness torture chamber?

George Anthony sat in that cold courtroom with his chest cut open while Baez poured acid into his open wounds.

It was painful to watch. Though I’m sure most everyone cheered the courage that George Anthony had today, no doubt they cried, too, seeing him lay there bleeding.

As he bled, George’s own flesh and blood, Casey Anthony, used her murderous eyes to cut him further.

Were those the eyes Caylee saw as she took her last breath?

My prayer for Caylee, just as her own mother snuffed the last breath from her, was that she was gently taken up by loving hands to a place we can’t see – beyond a veil, protected and loved. To the same place where her “Jo-Jo” wanted to go to be with her.

When George was explaining his suicide attempt, which Baez cruelly mocked, he said, through tears:

My emotional state even through today is it’s very hard to accept that I don’t have a grand-daughter…

I just felt like it was the right time to go and be with Caylee, I just decided that was the time for me to get away from all this, to spend time with Caylee..I didn’t want to be in this world anymore….

His voice trailed as he waited for Baez to land another blow to his already beaten heart.

Hell will have a special room for the likes of Jose Baez.

Anyone who would attack another human being at their lowest and most vulnerable – just when their heart is hanging out and freshly bleeding –  is inhumane and certainly does not deserve to be called an officer of the court – a seeker of the truth.

Clearly Baez never learned the Golden Rule for defense lawyers.  Juries do not like cruel defense lawyers and are likely to punish the client as a result.

The cruelty of this defense and this murderous daughter is coming full circle and will result in a charge of Murder One and the disbarment of Jose Baez.

The accusations, the lies, the innuendos from Baez have all back-fired.  The State will bring it all forward in their closing statements, and will remind the jurors that the truth  and this defense team are strangers, as the Honorable Judge Stan Strickland once said about Casey Anthony.

The boomerang effect has landed a death-blow to this defense.

And, it serves the defense right that their last witness of the day, Dr. Sally “Hello Dolly” Karioth, was more Carol Channing, singing “Before the Parade Passes By,” than she was grief counselor hired to help the defense.  Jeff Ashton skillfully sliced and diced her testimony so skillfully she never knew what hit her!  (By the way, did Judge Perry not see that she was chewing gum on the stand?)

And, lastly, Brandon Sparks, who appears to be a very troubled young man, blew it when he referred to his father as, “Roy Kronk,” and then as his “biological Father,” while testifying.

Jurors are not stupid; they will smell a son’s vendetta from forty paces.

Two children destroyed two fathers today.

28
Jun

it was quite a good day (God Bless Mr. Kronk)

Today’s parade of defense witnesses, in the State v. Casey Anthony trial, didn’t perform too well for the defense, however, they were colorful and in some instances, provocative.

In short, today’s defense witnesses were quite good for the State of Florida.

Here was today’s line-up:

  1. Joe Jordan – He was a Texas EquuSearch volunteer who served as a team leader, and originally thought he’d searched the area where Caylee’s remains were found, but admitted later that he was mistaken. He was subsequently rabidly pursued by the defense who wanted to use his original testimony to prove that the body could not have been in those woods at the time because Joe Jordan said he didn’t see a body.  In an email, Joe Jordan had told Yuri Mellich that Caylee’s body couldn’t have been there because he was sure he and his team had thoroughly searched the area.  But, the defense is STILL pursuing his original testimony in the hopes it will give rise to some reasonable doubt. There came a time when the defense was pursuing Mr. Jordan for his story, which troubled him so much he decided to tape his conversation with Morton Smith, investigator from the defense, without his knowledge.  It is against the law for a citizen to record anyone without their knowledge (law enforcement may do so).  Mr. Jordan, when questioned by Cheney Mason about being possibly charged with a felony, it scared him and he began to plead the fifth, which the State objected to.  There were lengthy side-bars regarding this issue, and ultimately, the jury was asked to disregard the question and answer.
  2. George Anthony – He was asked if he knew River Cruz aka Crystal Halloway.  He was asked if he had a romantic relationship with her; he denied this.  Note: I believe that River originally denied there was a romantic relationship, too.  George was very defensive on the stand and it appeared that he was hiding something.  And, uh, there was no mention of molestation, drowning, or duct tape!  Hmmmm.
  3. Cindy Anthony – She was asked about whether she had told Dominic Casey and James Hoover to search off of Suburban Drive for Caylee based on a psychic’s tip.  I clearly remember that Yuri Mellich wrote in his police report that Cindy Anthony had claimed she’d sent people out to those woods and Caylee was not there.  Today, she completely denied it.
  4. Lee Anthony – Lee said the exact opposite of Cindy.  He did have an argument with his mother about sending Dominic Casey in the woods to look for Caylee.  Cindy told Lee that she’d gotten a psychic tip and he was very angry.  It was the first time his family was going to look for a “dead Caylee” and he was very angry. Frank George asked him if he was completely sold on his sister’s lies at that time.  Strangely, Lee smiled, shook his head as if amused, and said, “yes, and no.”
  5. Yuri Mellich – he agrees that Cindy Anthony told him (as he’d written in his report), Cindy told him she’d “sent her people walk in that area and there was nothing in the area then.”
  6. Roy Kronk– Mr. Kronk was a FANTASTIC witness!  He made

    Roy Kronk - Caylee's Angel on Earth

    Cheney Mason, who questioned him, look like a bumbling, mumbling fool!  Mr. Mason did his best impression of a tough as nails but folksy and smart lawyer, giving “knowing” glances to the jury, as if to say Mr. Kronk was a big ole liar when, in truth, Mr. Mason looked like the big ole liar.  Oh, it was a beautiful thing.  Mr. Kronk is Caylee’s angel; were it not for Roy Kronk no one may have found Caylee Marie Anthony.  Thank you, Mr. Kronk, and GREAT JOB today!

  7. David Dean – Another meter reader, expressed to Roy Kronk that the area off of Suburban Drive “would be a great place to put a body.”  During cross, Linda Drane-Burdick asked Mr. Dean, “Why did you feel this area was a good spot to maybe look for Caylee?”  To which Mr. Dean indicated that in the jail videos of the family visiting Casey Anthony that she had told the family she felt Caylee was close by.  This was not good for the defense!   Meter Readers are now all heroes in my book, by the way.
  8. Alex Roberts – Roy Kronk’s supervisor, a senior meter reader, supported the series of events.
  9. Corrections Officers – Two officers were there to testify that Casey Anthony was a model citizen.  This is totally irrelevant to this trial and the Judge did would not allow their testimony.
  10. Jesse Grund – Out of the presence of the jury, Mr. Grund said that Casey had told him Lee Anthony had “groped” her on two occasions.  The defense would sure like to have this self-serving hearsay into evidence.  They’d like to have the chance to have Casey’s allegations into the record.  The judge is going to rule on this tomorrow.  There’s no way this is coming in, but the defense can dream – let ‘em spend the night dreaming!

In other news today, we learned that the State, in their rebuttal case, is going to call people from Cindy’s former workplace, Gentiva.  The individuals are from the Internet Technology (IT) group.  No doubt they are going to dispute Cindy’s recent testimony about not being at work the days the chloroform searches were performed on the family computer.  (You may remember, Cindy claimed that she was home that day and most likely made the “chloroform” searches – not Casey.)

Cindy claimed the only way to tell if she was at work would be to go back and look at her emails, but she’s sure those emails are no longer in existence.  Hah!  What Cindy doesn’t realize is that nothing on the Internet is gone forever!

The defense team told the Judge today they have only about 6 or seven witnesses left to testify, one of which is a grief counselor (who never met Casey, by the way), but Jeff Ashton was not able to depose the witness on a Saturday as he was dealing with other defense witness depositions (Furton and Rodriquez).  Jeff Ashton is going to be at a disadvantage as a result of not having the opportunity to depose this witness.  It remains to be seen if this witness will be allowed to testify.

Judge Perry advised the defense that when the defense is ready to rest their case, he will advise Casey Anthony that she has the right to either testify or not, and it’s solely her decision.

The defense case is going downhill so fast, and so completely, the only way to get the evidence of accidental drowning and the molestation out there, she will have to testify.

It’s a bad idea, of course, but, hey, when you’re very life is on the line, maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all?

27
Jun

Competent to face death

So, we learned today the mystery surrounding Saturday’s sudden court recess in the State v. Casey Anthony trial.

Casey Anthony’s team of defense attorneys determined that, lo and behold, after three years of hearings and one month of trial proceedings, Casey Anthony was not competent to stand trial.

And we thought it was the defense team who were the incompetent ones!

Why all of a sudden is Casey Anthony not competent?  No one saw this one coming!

I agree with Bill Shaeffer, my favorite Orlando Attorney, who said it could be that Casey is asking to testify in her own defense, and the lawyers are advising her not to. The defense undoubtedly knows it would be a disaster if she were to take the stand, is this the reason she’s suddenly incompetent?

Three independent psychologists examined Casey Anthony this weekend.  Their reports were submitted to Judge Perry who found that Casey is indeed competent to stand trial.

As I wrote yesterday, the defense is damned if they do and damned if they don’t ask Casey to testify.  She is the only person who can bring the molestation claims against her brother and her father into the trial; and she is also the only one who will be able to testify to the drowning claims.

It’s likely that the defense, in particular Cheney Mason who filed the motion to determine competence, wants a CYA (cover-yer-arse), type of record.  They likely want to be certain that appellate courts will see that the defense would not recommend she take the stand.

Or, perhaps it’s the other way around?  Does the defense want her to take the stand and she refuses, hence she’s crazy?!

Just like this weekend’s speculation – this is my best guess today (Bill Shaeffer agrees, so I’m in good company!)

The Issue of the Death Penalty

Attorney Ann Finnell was in court today.  The jury hadn’t seen her since their voir dire in Clearwater.

She has a smooth style, and her succinct questioning of witnesses is excellent.  It was nice to see a competent attorney on the defense side of the aisle.

Ann Finnell also made some news today as she recently filed a motion asking the court to declare the Florida Statute on the death penalty unconstitutional.

This motion is filed on the heels of a recent decision by a federal judge in Miami.

On June 22, 2011, Judge Jose Martinez, ruled that Florida’s sentencing of the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The reason?  Because currently juries take into account particular aggravating factors in their decisions regarding the death penalty, but jurors do not record which factor they weighed above others – which factors they may have agreed upon (if there are multiple factors), and which they did not agree upon.  Therefore, no one is made aware of the details of their decisions.

The recent ruling also finds troubling the fact that in death penalty trials, the decision to vote for the death penalty does not have to be unanimous.

At this time, during sentencing, only the Judge has to provide opinions surrounding the aggravating factors.

The view of people in the legal community say this ruling will not end the death penalty in Florida, but it WILL be argued anew as a result of this recent decision.

According to the Miami Herald, reporter David Ovalle writes:

The ruling, likely to be argued in appellate courts for years, does not strike down Florida’s capital-punishment law. But it could force lawmakers to change the statute, and could give recent convicts new avenues for appeal, legal experts say.

Read the Miami Herald article.

Currently, Florida courts allow jurors to make death penalty recommendations that are not unanimous decisions.

A twelve panel jury only requires a majority vote.  It also does not require jurors to record which aggravating factor encouraged their individual decisions.  Therefore, it is unknown if all jurors in the majority would have agreed unanimously on specific aggravators.

In addition, trial judges, such as Judge Belvin Perry, have the authority to override the decision of the jurors, whether they decide for or against the death penalty. In other words, if the jury decides the defendant should be sentenced to death, the trial judge can sentence life. Conversely, if the jurors decide life in prison is their recommendation, the judge can overrule them and sentence the defendant to death.

Furthermore, the argument used in Judge Martinez’ ruling, explains that if both the jurors and the trial judge vote for death for the defendant, there is no way to know which aggravating or mitigating factors were relied on by either the judge or the jury.

Judge Martinez determined the death penalty unconstitutional because of these very facts.  The case in which his decisions were decided is the case of a defendant named Paul H. Evans.  Evans was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991, for his actions in a murder-for-hire case.

An Assistant Public Defender in Miami, discussing the death penalty, remarked that it was ironic that it takes a majority vote to send a defendant to jail for life, but only a majority of jurors to sentence a defendant to death.

Today, Ann E. Finnell, attorney representing Casey Anthony, filed a motion stating that the decision by Federal Judge Martinez, makes the death penalty in the Casey Anthony case unconstitutional.  She also wants a new trial with a new jury.  It is highly doubtful the Judge will decide in favor of this motion.  I have every reason to believe that Judge Perry has already thought long and hard about the implications of this recent decision as it relates to the Anthony trial.

Regardless, I do hope the death penalty aspect of this motion prevails.

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