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Casey Anthony answers questions in bankruptcy case in Tampa court

TAMPA — After ducking past media outside the federal courthouse, her head buried against her attorney's chest, Casey Anthony testified Monday that since getting out of jail she has been dependent on the kindness of friends.

Anthony, 26, was acquitted in 2011 of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Before Monday, she has not made public appearances and has moved between houses to avoid cameras and death threats.

But she had to show up in Tampa's federal court Monday to answer questions about her finances.

Anthony filed for bankruptcy protection in January, claiming about $1,000 in assets and $792,000 in liabilities, including $500,000 owed to her defense attorney. Monday's hearing was a standard fact-finding mission, during which the government and any creditors can ask questions about money Anthony has made or owes others.

Anthony said she has no book, movie or television deals in the works.

She doesn't have a job, either. Instead, unnamed friends and her legal team have paid for her housing, food, phone and laptop, she said.

"I try to contribute what I can," she testified during the hearing. "But it's usually friends buying food."

However, she did have one thing to add: $200,000 she made selling "less than 15" photos to ABC in 2008. The money went toward her defense, she said.

She had not previously disclosed that money in her petition for bankruptcy.

It should be considered an asset, said Orlando attorney Scott Shuker.

He was the only creditor who showed up to the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes. Shuker represents Zenaida Gonzalez, an Orlando woman who is suing Anthony.

After Caylee disappeared in the summer of 2008, Anthony told investigators that a babysitter named Zenaida Gonzalez had kidnapped the toddler. Gonzalez later sued Anthony, claiming her reputation had been ruined.

During her murder trial, Anthony's attorney told jurors that the babysitter story was fabricated.

Standing outside the federal courthouse Monday, Shuker told reporters that he would be surprised if Anthony didn't have plans for a movie or book deal.

"I don't have any evidence of that," he said, adding that her statements during the hearing just didn't "smell right."

Anthony's responses during the hearing were often delayed by her attorneys, who leaned in to whisper in her ear. During the hearing, Shuker stopped her attorney Charles M. Greene.

"You don't get to interrupt," Shuker said. "Let the record reflect that Mr. Greene, who is not under oath, is interrupting proceedings."

Greene told Shuker to "take a deep breath."

Later, Shuker said it appeared Anthony had been well-coached.

Anthony's bankruptcy case is being heard in Tampa because her attorneys successfully argued concerns of a "media circus" and vigilantes still looking to gain justice for Caylee's death.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Casey Anthony answers questions in bankruptcy case in Tampa court 03/04/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 4, 2013 10:28pm]
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