ORLANDO — Casey Anthony, who is charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, sobbed in court Friday as a prosecutor speculated that the child was methodically drugged and suffocated.
"Her killer would prepare some substance in advance that would render her physically unable to resist," said prosecutor Jeff Ashton. "If the killer looked at her face, maybe the killer saw her eyes. … First one piece (of tape), then two, then three so that no breath was possible."
The true cause of Caylee's death in 2008 remains unknown, but duct tape was found on the body.
Ashton offered the speculative scenario in an effort to justify the case carrying the death penalty, in response to a defense request to bar prosecutors from seeking it.
Circuit Judge Stan Strickland said he would rule later.
Prosecutors must prove that Caylee suffered a heinous, cruel or atrocious death, which is the standard under Florida law for seeking the death penalty, said Andrea Lyon, one of Anthony's attorneys.
"The real reason the state has asked for the death penalty is because they wish to get as biased a jury as they possibly can," Lyon said. "It has the effect of coercing pleas in cases where that may, in fact, not be appropriate."
Anthony's attorneys contend that jurors in death-penalty cases, who are screened to eliminate those with moral objections to capital punishment, are more likely to convict defendants. The defense also says the threat of the death penalty could be used to coerce Anthony into making a plea agreement.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty and her trial is expected to start next year.