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The Florida Bar

Details on Casey Anthony Trial

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney William Moore notes that the weeks-long Casey Anthony murder trial has captivated the nation. Speculation about the forensics abounds. Discussions of whether or not she was sexually abused permeate coffee shop conversations throughout the state. Broward criminal lawyer Moore thinks that one of the most interesting developments has been the testimony of various witnesses.

From the beginning of the trial, the defense strategy has been to assert that Casey Anthony’s young daughter, Caylee Anthony, drowned in the swimming pool at the family’s home in Orlando. Casey knew about the death and was pushed by her father to cover it up, the claim goes. Casey Anthony panicked and was distraught, they say, and she was subject to manipulation due to years of sexual abuse by her father.

Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer Moore says that these statements early in the trial may essentiall force Casey Anthony to testify in her own defense — to provide the alternative narrative. However, criminal defendants have a constitutional right not to testify, and juries are instructed not to draw any conclusions from a defendant’s decision not to do so. In the landmark Supreme Court case Griffin v. California, decided in 1965, the justices ruled that the Fifth Amendment right to silence precludes a prosecutor from telling the jurors to make inferences based on that silence.

If Casey Anthony testifies, she will likely own up to misleading or false statements she made early on during the course of the investigation into her daughter’s whereabouts and ultimately Caylee’s death. The defense is not disputing that she made at least some statements that were not true, but they argue that this is not definitive because Casey was psychologically damaged from sexual abuse and that she was hiding Caylee’s death to protect herself and her father.

The prosecution, meanwhile, has put forth evidence of chloroform in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car, arguing that the little girl was drugged with it and ultimately suffocated. However, this assertion is based on circumstantial evidence, and Caylee’s true cause of death will likely never be totally confirmed.

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