Friday, May 27, 2011

Anthony Trial - Day Three

Yesterday was the most interesting day yet of the Anthony trial. The state continues to build on the story that they told during their opening statement by presenting witness testimony regarding Ms. Anthony's activities while her daughter was missing (or after she drowned if you believe the defense theory).

The interesting parts came from the defense. As part of their case, the state recalled Mr. Anthony to the stand. Mr. Anthony is the person who the defense says found the girl's body and then covered up the death. If the defense stands any chance to make that theory work, they must be able to make Mr. Anthony look like someone who would do such a thing. They are going to have to confront him and win the battle of words.

Well, it appears from yesterday that they won't be able to do that. Yesterday's testimony concerned two gas cans and the duct tape that was found on them. When the defense attorney cross-examined Mr. Anthony on these issues, Mr. Anthony was able to turn the tables and absolutely dominate Mr. Baez. The question that needs to be asked is - if you can't get control of the witness and keep control of the witness when you are discussing gas cans and duct tape, how will you be able to do it when you are making accusations of abuse and covering up the death of a child?

Other cracks appeared in the defense, too. Mr. Baez simply does not seem to know his way around a courtroom. He doesn't seem to have a good grasp of the rules of evidence. At one point, he attempted to question Mr. Anthony about a photograph. However, he didn't lay the proper foundation for the admission of the photograph into evidence. The judge sustained objections. The attorneys approached the bench for a sidebar. He kept trying to ask the questions. Finally, the judge sent the jury out and basically took Mr. Baez out behind the woodshed in open court and on the record.

Another example came when Mr. Baez wanted Mr. Antony to mark on a calendar that they set up as a demonstrative exhibit. He approached Mr. Anthony and gave him a marker and instructed him to move to the exhibit. At that point, the judge told Mr. Anthony to sit down and asked Mr. Baez if he had anything he wanted to ask him (the judge). Mr. Baez looked confused for a few seconds before finally asking the judge's permission for Mr. Anthony to step down to the exhibit.

Perhaps this last is picking nits, but the cumulative effect of all these missteps on the jury will likely be profound.

But perhaps the most telling thing about the defense is something that came into play after the jury was excused for the day. The defense made a motion to strike all the testimony related to the defendant's activities during the time between the girl's disappearance and the time that the disappearance came to light. They argued that the evidence was inadmissible because it was calculated to show a lack of remorse on the part of the defendant. Evidence of lack of remorse is not admissible in the guilt phase of a trial because the defendant has not yet been found guilty of anything for which she should feel remorse. The prejudicial effect of such evidence outweighs its probative value. The defense presented case law from the Florida Supreme Court to that effect.

Talk about closing the barn door after the horses get out. Why didn't they make this motion pre-trial? Waiting until the end of three days of this kind of testimony tells me that they are disorganized. The jury has already heard it and you can't unring that bell. The only remedy would be a mistrial. So, the judge denied the motion.

It is easy for me to sit here and judge. I know far less about this case than the defense does. It just seems to me that the defense is stumbling around in the dark, while the prosecution has a well designed game plan and is executing it perfectly.

It does not look good for Ms. Anthony.


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