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Defense rests, jury sees father's suicide note in Casey Anthony trial

Casey Anthony listens during testimony in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse Thursday in Orlando. Anthony, 25, has pleaded not guilty in the death of her daughter, Caylee.

Associated Press

Casey Anthony listens during testimony in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse Thursday in Orlando. Anthony, 25, has pleaded not guilty in the death of her daughter, Caylee.

ORLANDO — Casey Anthony's defense team rested its case Thursday without her testimony, and some experts believe the strategy raised more questions than answers to support her claim that her 2-year-old daughter died in a tragic accident.

The jury also saw a note from a failed suicide attempt by Casey Anthony's own father, who wrestled with questions about what happened to his granddaughter. Casey Anthony claimed he helped her dispose of Caylee's body after she drowned.

At different parts of the note, George Anthony wrote: "Casey does not deserve to be where she is" and "She (Caylee) was found so close to home. Why?"

The prosecution began its rebuttal Thursday afternoon. Closing arguments will follow and the jury could begin deliberating by this weekend. If convicted of first-degree murder, the 25-year-old could receive the death penalty.

Her attorneys never produced any witnesses bolstering the claim made in last month's opening statements that Anthony had acted without apparent remorse in the weeks after her daughter's death because she had been molested by her father as a child, resulting in emotional problems.

"If you do not at least present facts to support that argument, the jury is going to think you have no credibility," said Tim Jansen, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee.

Instead, the 13-day defense primarily focused on poking holes in the prosecution's contention that Anthony killed Caylee in June 2008 by covering her mouth with duct tape. Prosecutors said the woman dumped Caylee's body in the woods near her parents' home and then resumed her life of partying and shopping. Their case relied on circumstantial and forensic evidence, and it did have holes: Prosecutors had no witnesses who saw the killing or saw Casey Anthony with her daughter's body. And there was no certain proof that the child suffocated.

Caylee was last seen in mid June 2008. For the next month, Casey Anthony avoided her parents, telling her mother and her friends that Caylee was with a babysitter named Zanny.

Casey's parents soon got a notice that their daughter's car had been towed. George Anthony and the tow lot operator both said the Pontiac Sunfire smelled like death.

Prosecutors played a tape of a frantic 911 call made by Anthony's mother, Cindy, reporting her granddaughter missing. She told the operator, "It smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

Casey Anthony then told detectives that Caylee had been kidnapped by the nanny, and a massive search was launched. Meanwhile, numerous photos surfaced of Casey Anthony drinking; some of them allegedly taken in the month after Caylee disappeared.

Caylee's skeletal remains were reported in December 2008 by a municipal meter reader. A key part of the defense case was trying to discredit the meter reader, Roy Kronk, saying that he had actually discovered the body in August.

Obscene gesture lands waiter in jail

Courtroom cameras captured a 28-year-old waiter extending his middle finger toward a prosecutor during the Casey Anthony murder trial, and the man was promptly sentenced to six days in jail. Matthew Bartlett also was ordered to pay a $400 fine after he was photographed making the obscene gesture toward prosecutor Jeff Ashton on Thursday. Bartlett, who had been watching the trial from the courtroom gallery, was immediately escorted out by deputies and was brought back inside to face Judge Belvin Perry once the jury was sent home for the day. He was assigned a public defender. Bartlett apologized during a brief hearing and was then sentenced by Perry. Perry says Bartlett will have six months to pay his fine.

Associated Press

Defense rests, jury sees father's suicide note in Casey Anthony trial 06/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 12:06am]

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