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Judge scolds prosecution and defense as final arguments made in Casey Anthony trial

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today in the first-degree murder trial of Casey Anthony, center, shown with one of her attorneys, Dorothy Clay Sims, on Sunday in Orlando.

Associated Press

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today in the first-degree murder trial of Casey Anthony, center, shown with one of her attorneys, Dorothy Clay Sims, on Sunday in Orlando.

ORLANDO —The fate of Casey Anthony, the mother on trial for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, should finally be placed today in the hands of 12 jurors from Pinellas County.

But they missed Sunday's fireworks. Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. sent them out of the courtroom during closing arguments so he could berate the prosecution and the defense as a national television audience watched.

"I assume that you are all professionals that I don't have to watch," he said. "Maybe I am misinformed when I think you will follow the law. I am beginning to see that orders … may not mean a hill of beans to any of you."

The attorneys have clashed before. So last week, the judge ordered them not to refer to their counterparts during closing arguments.

But as he spoke to the jury Sunday, defense attorney Jose Baez jabbed a finger at prosecutor Jeff Ashton, who he said was chuckling.

"The truth is the truth," Baez told the jury, "depending on who's asking the questions, whether it's this laughing guy right here or whether it's myself."

Ashton, whose facial expressions were already the talk of the courtroom, denied laughing. He was just hiding his smile with his hand, he assured the judge.

Caylee Anthony was just 2 when she disappeared in the summer of 2008. Her remains were found months later. Her mother, Casey Anthony, faces the death penalty in her murder. The 25-year-old alternately cried and glared during Sunday's closings.

Her defense finished that evening. The state will get two hours this morning. Then the case should go to the jury.

If the attorneys mix it up again, the judge warned, he'd throw them out of the trial. There are plenty of other lawyers left to finish the case, he said.

"Enough is enough," Perry said.

Caylee Anthony was last seen on June 15, 2008. Her grandmother reported the child missing in mid July. Casey Anthony was arrested July 16 on charges of child neglect and obstruction, accused of impeding the search for her daughter.

In October 2008, a grand jury indicted the mother for murder. Then on Dec. 1 that year, the girl's remains were found near the family home.

Prosecutor Ashton told the jurors that Casey Anthony rendered her daughter unconscious, wrapped her face in duct tape and then left her in her trunk.

The mom was 22 then, dating a club promoter. The young woman was tired of being a mom, he told the jury.

"When you have a child, that child becomes your life," Ashton said. "This case is about the clash between that responsibility … and the life that Casey Anthony wanted."

In the defense's opening statement in May, Baez said Caylee drowned June 16, 2008, and wasn't killed. His client and her father tried to dispose of the body, Baez said, but instead the dysfunctional family spiraled out of control.

Casey Anthony went out dancing and got a tattoo while her little girl was missing. But that was because the young mother was in denial, Baez argued, the result of being molested by her father.

George Anthony denied those allegations when they were made during opening statements May 24. But on Sunday, the defense attorney tried to link the grandfather to the duct tape and said he knew more than he was telling about the case.

Yet Baez also stressed that there was no murder, nor any evidence of murder. He also dismissed the state's limited physical evidence: signs of possible human decomposition in Casey Anthony's trunk; the "smell of death" witnesses testified about; and Internet searches for "chloroform" on the family's computer before the girl went missing.

"It's a fantasy of forensics and nothing more," he said. "We have the most advanced crime-fighting tools available to us than anywhere in the world and they couldn't find a single link from Casey to Caylee's death."

While the trial continued inside the Orange County Courthouse, tourists outside took photos of Orlando's newest attraction.

Every day they line up for courtroom passes. The unlucky ones debate the case outside. They bring their cameras, their children, even their pets.

Linda Smith, 50, is one of the unlucky ones. She's obsessed with the case. She watches it on her iPhone outside. She used to think the mother was innocent. But then the defense accused George Anthony of molesting his daughter.

"I can't believe all that," Smith said. "I would never say things like that about my parents."

Husband Alan Smith, 56, held their Yorkshire terrier, P.J. He reminded his wife: "Innocent until proven guilty."

While she hasn't been able to get into the courtroom, she did see the June 17 fight that broke out in the line for passes.

"Do I look like I'd be involved with a fight?" she asked.

"She's involved in everything," her husband said.

"I'm nosy," she conceded.

The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m.

Judge scolds prosecution and defense as final arguments made in Casey Anthony trial 07/03/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2011 11:21pm]
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