July 4, 2011 in Nation/World

Anthony case headed to jury

Mother cries during closing arguments
Kyle Hightower Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Casey Anthony reacts while listening to the state’s closing arguments in her murder trial Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Casey Anthony briefly wept Sunday as prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter Caylee to reclaim the carefree life she had before the girl was born.

Prosecutors portrayed Anthony as a young mother who killed her daughter because she got in the way of her love life.

“Something needed to be sacrificed. That something was either the life she wanted or the life thrust upon her. She chose to sacrifice her child,” prosecutor Jeff Ashton said during his 90-minute argument.

Defense attorney Jose Baez said that the prosecutors’ case was so weak they tried to portray Anthony as “a lying, no-good slut” and that their forensic evidence was based on a “fantasy.” He said Caylee’s death was “an accident that snowballed out of control.”

Prosecutors contend Caylee was suffocated with duct tape by her mother, who then crafted elaborate lies to mislead investigators and her parents. Defense attorneys countered that the toddler accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and that Casey in fact was hiding emotional distress caused by alleged sexual abuse from her father. Her father has denied that claim.

Judge Belvin Perry ruled Sunday morning that there was no evidence of such abuse and that the defense could not allude to it in closing arguments. Jury deliberations are expected to begin today after the prosecution gives its rebuttal arguments.

Baez began his closing argument by telling jurors they have more questions than answers, including the biggest: How did Caylee die? Neither prosecutors nor the defense have offered firm proof of how Caylee died.

Baez spent most of his four-hour argument attacking the prosecution’s forensic evidence. He said the prosecution’s air analysis of the trunk of Anthony’s car, which allegedly showed air molecules consistent with decomposition, could not be duplicated. He said no one could prove a stain found in the trunk was caused by Caylee’s body decomposing there. And witnesses showed maggots found in the trunk came from a bag of trash that was found there, he said.

“They throw enough against the wall and see what sticks. That is what they’re doing … right down to the cause of death,” Baez said.

He later conceded his client had told elaborate lies and invented imaginary friends and even a fake father for Caylee, but he said that doesn’t mean she killed her daughter.

Earlier during the prosecution’s closing argument, Casey Anthony appeared mostly stone-faced for about the first 45 minutes, but she began to cry when Ashton said the story that Caylee drowned was also false.

Ashton, the prosecutor, said Caylee’s death wasn’t an accident because three pieces of duct tape were placed on her face – one on the mouth, one on the nose and one over those to be “thorough.”

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