June 18, 2011 Casey Anthony judge threatens defense with contempt
By the CNN Wire Staff
June 18, 2011 10:50 a.m. EDT
Orlando, Florida (CNN) -- The judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial ordered a defense witness off the stand Saturday and threatened attorney Jose Baez with contempt proceedings for failing to tell prosecutors about the witness' planned testimony.
Forensic anthropologist William Rodriguez told Judge Belvin Perry after the jury had been excused that he was preparing to tell jurors that no conclusions can be drawn from duct tape found near 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's body because of decomposition and movement of the bones by animals.
Rodriguez also said he planned to testify that a video prepared by a prosecution expert superimposing Caylee's living face with a picture of her skull and the outline of a piece of duct tape was an "unheard of" application of technology meant only to provide initial identifications of remains.
Rodriguez' opinions are critical rebuttals of the prosecution's theory that
duct tape found clinging to the girl's remains was essentially the murder weapon, used to cover her mouth and nose after her mother knocked her unconscious with chloroform.
But Rodriguez' opinion was not contained in his report filed with the court, and wasn't shared with prosecutors. That violated Perry's rule that all expert testimony be shared with opposing attorneys, Perry said.
Anthony defense opens with hardball
"It appears to me that this was quite intentional," Perry said to Baez. "This was not some inadvertent slip."
He ordered Rodriguez off the stand, but said he will be allowed to testify on Monday, after prosecutors have a chance to interview him. Perry said the law would appear to authorize him the right to exclude the testimony, but said that would be too drastic a step.
"It would be totally unfair to Ms. Anthony to have his testimony excluded on this critical issue," he said.
But he said he would be watching Baez' conduct closely and will consider contempt proceedings at the end of the trial.
"I am not making any promises or warranties about what I will do if it happens a second time with this witness," Perry scolded Baez.
Perry did not explain Rodriguez' sudden absence after jurors were brought back into the room, saying only that he was accommodating a witness from out of town, Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist who is expected to challenge the findings of Orange County Medical
Examiner Jan Garavaglia.
Garavaglia testified that the only rational explanation for Caylee's fate, given evidence in the case, was that she had been murdered.
Defense attorneys claim she was not murdered, but that she accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, the day she was last seen. They argue that Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked and covered up the death. George Anthony has rejected that scenario in his testimony.
Casey Anthony is charged with seven counts, including first degree murder, in the death of her daughter, whose remains were discovered in a wooded field in December 2008, six months after her last family saw her.
Prosecutors claim Anthony wrapped the girl in a blanket and stuffed her into two garbage bags and a laundry bag before storing it in the trunk of her car for a few days before dumping it in the woods.
Saturday was the third day of the defense case. The trial is wrapping up its fourth week.
On Friday, Anthony's attorneys introduced testimony from a forensic entomologist that insect evidence found by investigators in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car does not prove that a body had ever been stored inside it.
Jurors previously heard from prosecution witnesses who testified that the discovery of one leg of a kind of fly commonly found around decomposing bodies, as well as more numerous examples of a different kind of fly, suggested that a body had been stored in the trunk for no more than three to five days.
However, the defense team's bug expert, Tim Huntington, told jurors Friday that the prosecution's insect evidence was not convincing.
"In my opinion, one leg of a blow fly doesn't mean anything," said, Huntington, a Concordia University (Nebraska) faculty member.
The other insects found in the trunk, phorid flies, are frequently found in household garbage and are not as closely tied to human decomposition, Huntington said.
Prosecutors used their cross-examination to vigorously challenge forensic entomologist Tim Huntington on his experience.
The nation's youngest board-certified forensic entomologist told jurors that from looking at a photo, he did not believe a stain found in the liner of the trunk came from human decomposition.
But prosecutor Jeff Ashton got Huntington to admit that he has never previously made such an opinion in a courtroom and was never qualified as an expert on such identification.
Also on Friday, an ex-convict whom defense attorneys sought to question after saying he had had cell phone contact with George Anthony around the time Caylee disappeared. The man, Vasco Thompson, told reporters Friday that he has nothing to do with the case.
Vasco Thompson, who was convicted of kidnapping, said he has never talked to Anthony and only obtained the telephone number in question in February of 2009
"They dragging me in this for some reason I don't know," Thompson told HLN's Nancy Grace. "It's been totally crazy, ma'am, for the last two or three weeks."
Thompson's attorney, Matt Morgan, said the whole ordeal has been upsetting for his client.
"It's just another attempt by Casey Anthony to try to create some kind of reasonable doubt," Morgan told Grace.
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