Saturday, March 13, 2010

Will 2010 Be the Year Of Reality Checks For Casey Anthony And Her Family?

It has been a while since Katfishponders posted anything related to Caylee Marie Anthony, her mother Casey, or grandparents George and Cindy. It’s not that I haven’t been following the case, it’s just there hasn’t been anything “new” in the many discovery documents released since last June that have motivated me to write beyond commenting at other blogs and forums.

There were a lot of motions filed and hearings held in the fraud and murder trials, but honestly there are other bloggers “better equipped” to break-down the legal issues. My “go to” people are Ritanita at “Trials and Tribulations” and Dave Knechel at “Marinade Dave’s“. If you aren’t familiar with them, I recommend you check them out. They both offer informative, factual and often witty interpretations of the legal issues in a way that anyone can understand…..BUT DON'T GO YET…..I have a few thoughts I would like to share about recent events in the lives of the Anthony clan.

Before I get to my thoughts about recent events, I want to clarify my feelings about this case. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. If you have read my earlier posts about Caylee’s life and death, and the people she loved, you know that I think the evidence released in the discovery combined with her actions indicates that Casey is responsible for Caylee’s death. I don’t think anyone but Casey is responsible for what happened to Caylee; however, I do think her family bears some responsibility for the media mess this case has become. Here is why I feel this way…

When the story broke that Caylee was missing it didn’t take long to realize Cindy is a forceful personality….the “Queen of her Castle” so to speak and Casey was the “Princess of Anthonyland“. As the details ( i.e. Casey fables) came out about the circumstances surrounding Caylee’s disappearance, it became apparent that the fairytale world that Casey had concocted was a grim tale.

Despite Cindy’s efforts to portray Casey as a “fair maiden” whose daughter had been stolen by the “evil nanny”, the reality was that Casey was an accomplished liar, a thief and Caylee was most likely dead. George and Cindy “seemed” to refuse to accept reality until Caylee’s skeletal remains were discovered December 11, 2008, six months after she disappeared. The toddler’s remains were bagged and partially buried in a swampy, vacant lot near Anthonyland. When the State announced they were seeking the death penalty for Casey, the Anthony’s went into “battle mode“ and in my opinion, just made things worse. Thankfully, they have quieted down a bit for the most part.

Never fear….Casey’s “knight in shining armor“, Jose Baez, and the rest of the princess’s “army of minions” have taken over the spinning of the tale, and spin they have, in an effort to cast blame on anyone but Casey. I won’t even go into that, they are doing whatever they can to create doubt for their client…the problem they seem to have is one word, “reasonable” that needs to fit in front of doubt.

In recent months reality “seems” to be breaking through the various chapters of this fractured fairytale….notice I emphasize “seems”….I’ll get to that. A few of the reality break-throughs so far this year are: Casey is now a convicted felon. George and Cindy are possibly going to lose the whole damn castle. Casey is reportedly out of money for her defense with the clock ticking as a date has finally been set for the murder trial and the judge has set deadlines for witness lists, depositions, etc.

Reality Check #1- Casey is now a convicted felon.
On January 25, 2010, Casey Anthony pleaded guilty to check fraud and sentenced to time served. Anthony has been held without bond since she was indicted for first degree murder in October 2008. The guilty plea means Anthony now has six felony convictions on her record.
Anthony admitted stealing a checkbook from a friend, Amy Huizenga, and writing four checks worth nearly $650. She wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke briefly in court.
"I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm sorry for what I did," she said. "I take complete and full responsibility for my actions, and I'd like to apologize to Amy. I wish I'd been a better friend.

In my opinion, the most notable thing about this hearing is that Casey actually broke down and cried after she spoke in court. (See picture) Now we know what Casey looks like when she is truly crying, versus what we have seen before where she tries to squeeze out tears but ends up hiding behind her hair, dabbing her eyes. The question is…..was she crying because she is now a convicted felon….or was it because she felt bad that she had stolen from her friend Amy? I really don’t know, but things are never what they seem with this family.....the thought that occurred to me when I saw her crying, is she crying because this the first time she has ever REALLY been held accountable for her actions?

Reality Check#2- George and Cindy are possibly going to lose the whole damn castle.

George and Cindy Anthony said they did not know that Bank of America had
Filed Foreclosure papers on their home until WKMG Local 6 News reporter Mike DeForest brought it to their attention on February 22 .

The Anthonys have owned the Hopespring Drive property since 1989, but four years ago they refinanced their home for $121,000. According to the filing, they still owe nearly all of that money. Bank of America said that since June 2009, the Anthonys have failed to make their $785 monthly payments.

The Anthonys' attorney, Brad Conway, said his clients' granddaughter's death contributed to them losing the house. Conway attributed the couple's latest financial problems to the notoriety of the case and the emotional toll caused by their granddaughter's slaying.
Cindy had to leave her job because of stress-related medical problems and has been on disability for more than a year. George -- like many others in this economy -- is having difficulty finding work, said Conway, who added that George Anthony has an added difficulty because he is instantly recognized and rejected by most employers either because of who he is or because companies fear he may bring unwanted media attention.

Many had speculated that the Anthonys were profiting off book and movie deals, but Conway said this foreclosure proves that never occurred.

My first thought when hearing about this is how awful for the Anthonys. I do feel bad for them to lose their home after everything they have been through since June 2008. But I remind myself that things are not always what they “seem” with the Anthonys.

On October 17, 2009, while Cindy and George Anthony set sail with son Lee and his girlfriend Mallory for a 4-day Bahamian cruise on the Monarch of the Seas, CBS aired a 48 Hours Mystery episode featuring The Anthonys and some of the defense and others involved in the case.
That came after George told prosecutors under oath that no one will hire them and, just to make ends meet, they had to accept a few thousand dollars from the CBS network for the exclusive interview. Cindy told prosecutors it was more like $20,000. Brad Conway, told Eyewitness News that the Anthonys deserved the short break and that it's not newsworthy. At the time I agreed with Conway…they have been through hell.

Looking back now, I don’t imagine Bank of America was very thrilled with the idea of this cruise when they hadn’t received a mortgage payment for 5 months.

On Friday, March 12, it was reported by WKMG that George and Cindy Anthony have hired real estate attorney Mark Lippman to assist them in saving their home from foreclosure. The couple claims Bank of America failed to notify them of their delinquency as required by federal regulation.

OMG! Reality check! If you don’t pay your mortgage for 9 months the bank has every right to foreclose your home. A few questions come to mind….how is it that WKMG Local 6 knew on Monday, February 22 that the bank was foreclosing, the same day the foreclosure papers were filed? I suppose that can be explained because the foreclosure was filed with the Circuit Court so is part of the public record. The other question is why does WKMG know that the Anthonys hired Mark Lippman? That is not public record, so they had to be notified by someone….but why? Are the Anthonys living in a fairytale world where the king and queen are entitled to priviledges the rest of us aren't....or is it something else?

Reality Check # 3- Casey is out of money for her defense.

How Casey Anthony can afford to pay for her defense has long been a topic of debate. She had no assets when she was arrested on check-fraud charges in 2008, before Jose Baez joined the case. Despite this lack of funds her defense grew to include several nationally recognized expert witnesses and attorneys Linda Kenney-Baden and death penalty expert Andrea Lyons, none of whom live in Florida.

Prosecutors have speculated Anthony's "seeming conversion from pauper to princess" could be based on the sale of her photos and videos to media companies. TV networks often pay "licensing fees" for videos and photos. Baez has refused to say how Anthony is paying her attorneys. In March of 2009, there was a hearing based on a motion filed by the state before Judge Stan Strickland concerning the funding of Casey Anthony's defense. The State was concerned about possible conflict of interest between attorney Jose Baez and business deals relating to Casey Anthony's then-current riches. After an in-camera meeting with the defense, Judge Strickland stated he was satisfied with the defense's explanation and the motion went no further.

On March 8, 2010, Casey's defense filed a Defendant's Motion For Determination Of Indigency For Costs. The motion included an affidavit from the defendant indicating fees of $89,454.83 and $22,500 have been paid or will be paid to defense attorneys Jose Baez and Andrea Lyon, respectively. Baez and Lyon are not seeking public funds for attorney fees, and their motion stated that Lyon, is working pro bono. No mention was made of Linda Kenney-Baden in the motion. When Anthony filled out her affidavit, she said the fees paid or to be paid to the attorneys were or are being paid by herself.

Based on the information provided in the affidavit, the Orange County Clerk of Courts found Anthony indigent on March 9. In Florida, judges have to give approval for the various costs when defendants are found indigent. There will be a hearing before Judge Stan Strickland on March 18 on the motion for costs / “pauper to princess and back to pauper” motion?

The bottom line is if the state pays for costs the defense must make full disclosure of the sources of the money paid to date for the defense and anything paid will be at a pre-determined fee.


Reality Check #4- The clock ticking as a date has finally been set for the murder trial and the judge has set deadlines for discovery, witness lists, depositions, etc...

This reality check may be as much a reality check for the attorneys as it is for the princess. On March 8 there was a hearing that set May 9, 2011 as the date this case will go to trial. While that may seem a long way off to us, the attorney’s from both sides will be very busy. Judge Strickland also set up a schedule of deadlines to ensure this trial stays on track, you can see his order here.

In a case that things are not always what they seem, things are a changing and the reality is those involved should be more accountable from here on out.

The saddest part of this story is no matter how things work out in the end there will be no "happy ending" because beautiful little Caylee is gone forever.....

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stacey Barker Dilemma...Will There Be A Plea Deal In March Or A Trial In April? UPDATED

UPDATE 3/22/2010 - There was no plea entered today and the case was continued until 4/12/2010. The Judge said the trial will be soon unless they reach a deal in the meantime this is going to trial, most likely in April.
Stay tuned

Emma Leigh Barker
There was another pre-trial hearing in the Stacey Barker murder case, on Monday, March 8, 2010, at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, CA. Stacey Barker 25, is accused of smothering her daughter, 18 month old Emma Leigh Barker on March 18, 2009.

Stacey Barker initially told police Emma was abducted from her car in the parking lot of a Lancaster, CA park as they prepared to leave after playing at the park. She claimed she was knocked out by the kidnapper and woke up six hours later, several miles away, at the Palmdale Park-n-Ride. Detectives said Barker had injuries consistent with a struggle, including bruises on her head and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Authorities say Barker later admitted making up the abduction story and inflicting the wounds on herself. Twelve hours later, Barker led police to Emma’s body, dumped in a grassy lot near the Golden State Freeway in Sylmar, CA. Barker gave various statements to police as to how Emma died, ranging from an accident to an intentional suffocation. The one consistency to Barker's story was that she feared being blamed, causing her to panic and leave the girl's body near the freeway.

On April 27,2009, Barker was arrested and the charges filed against the young mother include murder, assault on a child causing death and child abuse. The complaint alleges that Barker willfully caused and permitted the child to be injured and harmed and that injury resulted in death. Barker formally entered a not guilty plea to all counts on August 12, 2009.

Friends of katfish ponders, who live in the AV, have been attending the hearings and any "in the courtroom" reports are based on information they have here we go..... Due to budget constraints the court had closed on Friday, so when they arrived at the courthouse early Monday morning there was a half hour wait in line, just to get into the courthouse.

Tori said that even though they made it to the courtroom about a quarter past eight (court doesn't usually start until nine) Stacey Barker's hearing was already under way. Tori couldn't get into the courtroom, but was able to watch from the ante chamber. Ange and TGT were able to get in, but the courtroom was standing room only. It seems court had already been on and off the record in Barker's hearing. When they arrived, Stacey was already sitting at the defense table and Judge Hayden Zackey was just taking his seat at the bench as he said ,"We will go back on the record". Zackey said that he consulted with the head Judge and he wants to try to keep the trial in his courtroom, but due to the cutbacks he does not know if that is going to happen, but emphasized again he would try. Zackey did say he would like the trial to begin by April 5, 2010. (Unfortunately we couldn't find out what happened before the girls got there, but it couldn't be much as the courthouse opens at eight.)

Public Defender Roberto Dager tells the court he wants to trail the hearing again until 3/22, adding that's 14 of 30. Judge Zackey said, "What is it you want to come back for on that date? I don't want to keep bringing Ms. Barker back and forth if I don't have to. " (Barker is housed at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, it's a 90 mile drive from the jail to the court one way. Given the budget constraints it's a good idea to limit those trips.)
PD Dager and Deputy District Attorney S. Kelly Cromer huddled together talking and then Dager said "We are going to put an offer on the table." Zackey said, "Okay, we will come back on the 22nd, that will give the lead Deputy time to review it. If we go to trial, we can still start by April 5, that will give Ms. Cromer time to do her other case." Kelly Cromer said she expected that case to be resolved quickly. Dager asked his client's file not be sent down yet, adding he wanted her to stay there so they could talk. And that was it for now. This case appears to be advancing one way or the other.

For those of you from California, I came across this that might be of interest:

Due to the ongoing statewide financial crisis, and pursuant to state law enacted in 2009, Superior Courts throughout California will be closed Wednesday, March 17, 2010, and closed the third Wednesday of every month through June 16, 2010.

(For more information follow the important court closure link above the picture.)
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Merry Christmas Letter From Nicholas Sheley (Accused Spree Killer Of 8 )

I have questioned myself whether to post this letter or not......because it is public record and accessable under The Freedom Of Information Act I have decided to go ahead and post it. I want to be clear that this is not evidence that will come into the trial and has no bearing on Nicholas Sheley's guilt or innocence. It does give a little insight into his thinking and what he thinks is funny.

I find this interesting because the hearing that Sheley describes took place on December 4, 2009, and he was still thinking about it enough to write a letter to Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart three weeks later, and on Christmas no less.

I attended this hearing and can tell you that Bill Elward , Assistant Attorney General, who is one among several from that office assisting in the cases against Nicholas Sheley in Illinois was not, in my opinion disruptive in court. The attorneys on both sides of the aisle were frustrated. The judge did accuse them of arguing in circles and to stop it...several times....but noone was disruptive, just passionate.

There are certain rules the State and the Defense must abide by per the IL Supreme Court Rules. Because the State has the burden of proof, they seem to have more requirements as far as sharing discovery, etc....add the fact that this case is a Death Penalty case and no doubt there are more stringent rules. That doesn't mean the defense doesn't have obligations as well.

This is where the frustration seems to eminating from.....the State seems frustrated because they feel they have made their required disclosures. The State wants the defense to share the list of Expert witnesses they plan to use and a theory of defense (just in general, such as alibi, self defense, insanity (In IL there is no insanity defense, instead our state has adopted a "Guilty but Mentally Ill" verdict; however, the burden of proof is on defendant for this defense).

The Defense seems frustrated because they don't feel they should have to decide on these issues until the court has ruled what, if any, Course of Conduct ie. prior "bad acts" evidence will be allowed in the trial either during the guilt/innocence phase or in mitigation for sentencing if there is a conviction. The state doesn't want to decide how they will use this Course of Conduct evidence until they know what type of defense will be used. Jeremy Karlin, lead counsel for the Defense refers to this as the $64,000 question. Eventually the Judge will rule on this.

If you have trouble reading the letter as it is posted on the blog, here is a link to the letter on my docstock account.
Feel free to leave comments with your thoughts. Any readers trained in hand writing analysis?

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