Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jailhouse Connections And Investigations - Continuing.... The Justice For Caylee Anthony Saga -

Casey Marie Anthony  is a 24 year old Orlando, FL woman who has been held without bond at the Orange County Florida Jail since October 14, 2008 when an Orange County Grand Jury handed down a seven count Bill of Indictment . The charges brought in the indictment against Anthony  in relation to the Death Investigation of her 2 year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony  are as follows :
CMA #08049710
1 count - First-Degree murder

1 count - Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child

1 count - Aggravated Child abuse

4 counts- Providing False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer

The first degree murder charge is a capital offense and the possible penalty is Life In Prison Without Parole (LWOP) or the Death Penalty.

Casey Anthony is housed in what the Orange County Florida jail calls Level 1 protective-custody in Dorm L. When Casey was arrested for the murder of her daughter Caylee, the Orange County Sheriffs Office (OCSO) decided that she needed additional protection above and beyond what other prisoners that are housed there require. Most prisoners in a high profile case are held in protective custody, but  no doubt the public's hostility towards Casey Anthony after learning most everything she told law enforcement about Caylee's disappearance was a  lie and that she didn't report her daughter missing for a month  factored into her Level 1 Protective Custody status.

We have been told when it comes to protective custody, few people are guarded as closely as Casey Anthony. She resides in her jail cell for most of the day and is not allowed contact with any other prisoners. She is also not allowed to watch TV in her cell, but she is allowed one small transistor radio, which she bought at the jail commissary. The short time each day prisoners in protective custody are allowed out of their cell  is to shower, get books, make phone calls, or watch TV in a "community" day room  for individual use by those in protective custody (other than visits with their lawyer or court hearings). There is also scheduled visitation time (once or twice a week?) but Casey refuses all visitors.

While no contact with other prisoners is an important part of protective custody, in all of the cases I have followed ( not just in the OCJ ), prisoners find a way to break the rules and communicate. Let's face it, all they have is time to try and figure ways around the rules. This case is no exception.

During a pretrial hearing on March 18, 2010, Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Stan Strickland unsealed an
  IN CAMERA SEALED MOTION TO DELAY DISCLOSURE   that he has allowed the State to keep under wraps for the previous month while they conducted an investigation.Judge Strickland unsealed the motion because he said that the investigation into this information has almost concluded.

The State's motion (link provided above) advised the court that the State had been informed the defendant, Casey Anthony has made a few friendships while in jail and had written and passed 50 letters to one of the inmates against jail rules, possibly with a guard's help. The State's Attorney Office (SAO) said the letters are not a confession, but appear to contain relevant statements of the Defendant. The motion also advised that based upon the past history of this case and in anticipation of accusations of misconduct by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.D.L.E.) take over the investigation of the communications between the Defendant and these witnesses.

Under the FL Sunshine Law, once the state turns over discovery to the defense, the discovery becomes public documents, unless ordered sealed by the judge ( for example: the video in the jail medical clinic of Casey's reaction to Caylee's remains being found has been withheld ). Judge Strickland gave the defense 15 days to look over the letters and decide if they would seek to have them remain under seal.
Anthony's defense chose not to fight the release of the documents. I'll discuss what's in the jailhouse letters and my thoughts on the contents of the letters in my next post that will be titled "Muffin and Cookie Plan A Road Trip".

In the rest of this post I'd like to give you a better understanding of the physical layout of Dorm L where Casey has been bunking for most of the last two years.  I did some research so that I can give you a more complete introduction to Casey's jailhouse friends and also got some of the legal documents involved in Robyn Adams case which I have linked in this post  It also seems important we cover some of the background of the F.D.L.E.'s investigation.  Most of the information about the investigation can be found in the OCSO Supplemental Report to Jailhouse Letter

~The Investigation~

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found that Casey Anthony, Maya Derkovic and Robyn Adams became friends while they were in protective custody in the female detention center, Dorm L, which is where jail guard Silva Hernandez workedHere is a copy of the floor plan for Dorm L :

Orange County Jail, Woman's Detention Center, Dorm L
The dorm consists of a control center at one end of the dorm and facing the communal day room that resembles a classroom. The inmates cells are lined around the day room and consist of two levels. Inmates that are in close proximity to each other are able to communicate through the ventilation system. Robyn Adams explained it is possible for communication through the vents between any of the cells but the further away you are the louder you had to speak, so she and Casey didn't communicate "via the vents ".

 Casey Anthony was originally arrested and placed in protective custody on July 17, when she was arrested for lying to law enforcement  in the days after Caylee was reported missing. Adams was arrested on July 21 and placed into protective custody because her husband was a police officer.( I'll tell you more of the details of Adam's arrest in a bit.) Anthony remained in jail for about a month until California bounty hunter, Leonard Padilla assisted in getting her released on August 20, 2008. This is the first time when Adams and Anthony were in Dorm L together, but didn't form a relationship beyond a wave. ( For the sake of being thorough I should tell you
Anthony was arrested again, this time on economics charges on August 29 and bonded out on September 5. Anthony was arrested for more economic charges September 15 but was out the next day.) Adams wouldn't see Anthony again until she was arrested on October 14. During the time Anthony was out, Adams decided to agree to a plea deal in her case on September 25, 2008. Adams was sentenced in January 2009 and moved to a federal prison in August of 2009. Maya Derkovic was housed in the Orange County Jail with Casey Anthony during the latter parts of 2008 to the beginning of 2009.

   ~ Friends Made In Jail, May Turn Out To Be "Friends From Hell"~

Maya Derkovic mugshot
Maya Derkovic, then 18, was originally arrested on January 28, 2007 for armed carjacking. Derkovic identified herself as a full member of the 3rd World Rolling Sixties gang (a spin off of the West Coast Crips ) within minutes of her arrest.You can read more here about her arrest for the armed carjacking and how she came to be involved in and charged for the death of a 15 year old girl, who Derkovic admitted she choked
while two fellow gang members held the victim's arms in an act of crude gang justice.. "Maya is a pretty established member of this group and has been for long time," said sheriff's homicide Detective Brian Cross of the lanky, 6-feet-2 teenager with a "Daddy P" tattoo on her neck, a souvenir of her time as a prostitute in Miami. Derkovic first joined a street gang several years ago when her family lived in South Florida. Born in Bosnia, she went by the nickname "Luda," which means "Crazy" in her native language,
Derkovic's mother, who did not want to be named to protect her younger children's identity, has visited the jail regularly since her daughter's arrest. After years of trying to control her daughter's misbehavior, she said her daughter must accept responsibility for her actions, whatever they were and whatever punishment faces her. " Taking somebody's life is something I cannot imagine any child of mine doing. I can't imagine what that other girl's mother is feeling," she said. "For my child it is too late. If she did it, she's going to have to deal with herself. Someone else may learn from what happens to her."  (Hmmmmm, no comment!)
Derkovic, 21, is serving a 30-year sentence at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, FL for murdering 15 year old  Jackie "Angel" Curtis three years ago.

Robyn Adams mugshot
Robyn Adams and her husband Clay were arrested on federal drug and gun trafficking charges on July 22, 2008.Clay Adams lived two lives: one as an Altamonte Springs cop of nine years, the other as a painkiller-addicted, marijuana grow-house operator who was scheming to kill a former supervisor.

That's how authorities described it when Adams, 36, and his wife, Robyn, 32, were hauled into federal court in Orlando on drug and weapons charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Bodnar sought to have the couple  (who could face up to life in prison if convicted on all charges) held without bond, noting both made threats to a police informant and others.

The 35-page Criminal Complaint describes in detail how investigators say the Adams' stockpiled weapons, sold drugs and gave sensitive police secrets to criminals.

According to the complaint,  Robyn Adams used her position at an orthopedic surgeon's office to get Oxycontin which was then sold across the state. The complaint also detailed how Adams approached an informant to partner in a marijuana-growing operation. That person tipped off City-County Investigative Bureau (CCIB) agents, who brought the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and ATF into the case. After the informant rented a home for the operation, Adams and his wife set up hydroponic equipment in the residence and provided marijuana seeds.Adams provided the informant with drivers-license photos, undercover aliases and real names of drug agents and CCIB officers, along with the descriptions of their vehicles. Adams also supplied weapons and prescription drugs to the informant, a convicted felon.
Gunning wrote, Adams told the informant that he joined CCIB earlier this year to learn investigative methods on how to detect marijuana-growing operations.

When Clay Adams was  removed from a position on an undercover unit, investigators say he snapped. Adams advised [the informant] that he will let the issue cool off for a couple of months and then 'take [the supervisor] out' when he least expects it, utilizing a .308-caliber rifle equipped with a silencer," Gunning wrote.
Both husband and wife confessed and entered into plea agreements.He pleaded guilty to five federal charges, including conspiring with his wife to grow 2,200 pounds of marijuana. Robyn Adams pleaded guilty to two charges: conspiracy and a weapons count. The pair were sentenced on January 9, 2009. She is now serving an eight year sentence at a Federal prison in Tallahassee, FL and will be on supervised release for ten years after. Clay Adams was sentenced to seventeen 1/2 years and is serving his time in a Texas federal prison.

 More Of The Investigation~

It was Derkovic who first approached law enforcement about her and Adam's contact with Casey Anthony.
In Derkovic's sworn statement, she told authorities she and Anthony would talk through the ventilation system. (I haven't been able to determine exactly which cell Derkovic was in from the floor plan, but her cell was on the same side as Anthony.) I won't go too far into Derkovic's claims about those vent talks in this post, mainly because I'm not sure I believe her and really want to devote more space to Adams and Anthony, and just how their relationship developed.

Adams told the F.D.L.E. investigator her cell (#19) was across from Anthony (#12) and they would smile,  wave and give hand signals through the window on their cell doors, or when one was out in the day room. She said it was just a way of offering support to each other. They would signal if they were ok or not, that they were praying for each other, that sort of thing was the extent of their communication at the time. Adams said that she felt Anthony came to trust her because she smiled and didn't yell taunts at Casey like the other inmates did.

Shortly after they began their communication, Adams was moved to another cell (#27) on the same side of the dorm as Casey but on the upper level. Shortly after the move, Anthony signaled to Adams (from the day room) that she would leave her a note in a green hardback book called, " Do Away With August", from then on they used that book to pass notes (same type of stuff as they had communicated by hand signals before) and eventually the letters.

When asked by the investigators to elaborate on how her communication with Casey evolved into talking to each other, Robyn Adams explained that the even number cells took their turns coming out for showers, day room / TV time, etc. during the day and the odd numbers were let out night. She said after a while she started helping the guards out a bit, cleaning showers, fold laundry, whatever and as much as the guards would allow her to do. When Adams was folding laundry in the day room they were able to " kinda lip talk" and hand signal as they had before, but in closer proximity.

Adams says she started asking "Shannon", (this was the name she and Casey assigned Sylvia Hernandez because her uniform said," S. Hernandez" ) " Hey, can I go give her a book? Can I, can I just go over there you know talk to her through the glass?" Adams said after a while this just became a routine when "Shannon" was working. I would say, "Hey, I can't hear her, can I just go see what she's saying? Can I go closer, that type of thing."

Adams said it never got to the point that she just took it for granted she could approach Casey's cell, and "Shannon" did not receive any type of compensation for allowing the communication between the two. There was no gain in it for her, she just treated us as "people". People in confinement for a long period of time who needed human interaction. When asked point blank if there was any type of sexual relationship between any of the three (Anthony, Adams, Hernandez) Adams replied, "I strongly believe it was strictly that she just felt bad. She felt bad. There was nothing for her to gain from it except for being human and having someone to talk to." ( I guess that means no sex. LOL)

Next the investigators asked Adams how frequently she and Anthony were allowed to spend time together, how long were they allowed to talk, and were there times you were allowed in the same cell together? Adams told them the contact with Anthony took place after the other inmates were done showering and placed in "lock". The contact took place every night that Hernandez was on shift (4-5 nights a week) and they were allowed to talk anywhere from a few minutes to hours. Their contact ranged from speaking through the bean hole (food tray slot) in the cell door to spending time in the same cell. (Hernandez allowed Adams to cut Casey's hair on one occasion. WTF?)

On March 9, 2010 F.D.L.E. conducted an interview of Sylvia Hernandez about the communication between Casey Anthony and Robyn Adams. This interview was independent of any investigation being conducted by OCSO. Hernandez told investigators she hired on with Orange County Corrections in January of 2008 and worked the "B" two shift (6pm-6am) with the standard law enforcement rotation of 3 days on 2 days off in the Female Detention Center (FDC) Lima Dorm (Dorm L).

Hernandez explained that Lima Dorm is basically a confinement dorm where you have inmates for disciplinary, protective custody, special management (medical or pregnancy), psychological  inmates for evaluation counseling and suicide precautions.There were usually 30-35 inmates in Lima dorm while Adams and Anthony were both in custody there, although they were the only two who were in protective custody status. Most inmates came and went , but Adams and Anthony as protective custody, were stationary.

Hernandez admitted she was aware of written communication between Anthony and Adams, but made no attempt to stop the communication.Hernandez also allowed Adams and Anthony to have face to face contact at Anthony's cell door, but denied allowing them to spend time together in the same cell. Hernandez admitted she allowed Adams to cut Anthony's hair on one occasion.

When Hernandez was questioned about having a relationship (sexual) she denied that but admitted she had written to Adams after she was sent to Tallahassee. She also admitted she attempted to assist Adams in retaining counsel for her case by providing her with names of local attorneys and on one occasion approached Anthony's counsel on behalf of Adams.

Hernandez told investigators that she spoke to Anthony "a few times" about her case. One conversation took place when it was being reported that Caylee's bones may have been found in the water at Blanchard park, but turned out it wasn't Caylee. According to Hernandez, Anthony told her investigators were "not looking in the right place" and it's right in their face but they're"not looking in the right place".

At the end of the report F.D.L.E.Investigators stated they thought Robyn Adams seemed to be truthful and forthright about her involvement with Casey and her role in creating and maintaining the evidence in question. Adams showed a great deal of emotion associated with her current sentence, her friendship with Anthony, the loss of Anthony's child and the moral dilemma of providing information pertaining to Sylvia Hernandez, because they had formed a friendship. The information was also consistent with the information in the letters between her and Anthony. The investigators stated in their report they think Hernandez was less than truthful during her interview but her actions didn't rise to the level of violation of Florida statutes. Wonder which one if any of them the State will use in the trial?

When Casey Anthony was arrested on July 16, 2008, little did she know even though her daughter was gone forever that she would soon have a " new sister". A sister who she could share (most) all of her confidences with and not be judged because in her own words, “We have so very much in common , both the good and the bad”.
Check back and we'll talk more about the information in the letters and the conversations between Casey Anthony and Robyn Adams, there is a LOT to talk about.
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  1. This is a great post! Thank you so much. I can tell by how it was written that you put a lot of time and thought into it. I can't wait to read the next one.

  2. Thanks for commenting Mary Jo! Silly me, when I researched all of this stuff after the March 18 hearing I thought I would make one post. About 1/2 way through the first post titled the same as far Justice for Caylee saga but "The Land of Casey Fables" I realized it was going to take another post. 1/2 way through this post I realized it was going to take 3. LOL! Guess I have a lot to say. hehehe

  3. This is Kadrmas 21. I will say, as a pro defense guy this whole saga is a nightmare. First Casey yapping to these sleaze bags in jail, rule No. 1 if you are an inmate is you NEVER talk to another inmate about your charges, ever. Also Judge Perry, this guy, ughh. He is a hang judge, loves the death penalty, it was such a huge mistake for the defense to push to have Strickland removed. Strickland would have been much more likely to override a jury recommendation of death should it come to that than Perry would or will be. In the end I say Casey gets a LWOP sentence but we will see.

    Also, I think Strickland would have moved the trial out of Orlando period. Perry has said that a jury from outside Orange County will be brought in but that the trial itself will be in Orange County. This is also bad news for the defense. Basically, all they can hope for is that Perry will grant their motion to go down to either Miami-Dade or Broward County to pick a jury. The prosecution wants a jury from either out of Hillsborough County (Tampa) or out of Duval County (Jacksonville), out of Leon County (Tallahassee) or out of Escambia County (Pensacola). I suggest this is because juries from those areas would be much more likely to convict and certainly would be much more willing to give the death penalty than say juries out of south florida.

    Also, regardless if where the jury is going to be picked from, you will get some less than desirable people on it. Having to be taken away from their families and taken to a different area of the state for a trial that it is estimated will take as long as 3 months is not attractive. From what I understand, besides the 12 main jurors, as many as 10 alternate jurors will be picked too because of the length of the trial.

  4. Hey Kadrmas! Thanks for stopping by. I think of you every time I check on the Jensen appeal. ~waving~
    I'm still working on my post about those jailhouse letters. My last 2 entries are the start...LOL...I have a lot more to say than I realized. Yes, they are a defense nightmare....however, the more I read them the more I am convinced the defense didn't try to block their release because the letters do give a glimpse at her humanity and more importantly mental issues. (I think mental health will be a huge part of mitigation if there is a 1st degree conviction, if not their defense case in chief)
    Did you see the motions filed by the state on Friday? In as few as words as possible...let's call them the "Put up or shut up" motions. LOL
    Here is a link to the PUSU motions:

    I thought Perry was a hang em judge at first too until someone directed me to a case, I believe it was FL v. Huggens, where Perry overturned a conviction in a capital case because of a possible Brady violation. Guess who the prosecutor was....yep...Jeff Ashton. It turned out Huggens ended up with the same conviction and death sentence in his second trial. The information Ashton failed to turn over to the defense really didn't support the defense, but the Supreme Court upheld Perry's decision to overturn the he can be fair.....but tough to both sides of the aisle.

  5. Yes John Huggins. Well, the reason Perry overturned that one was because Huggins would have got a new trial from the Florida Supreme Court anyway had Perry not overturned it himself so Perry followed the law and knew that surely Huggins conviction would be overturned in 2 or 3 years by the FSC if he did not do it himself so he did. Huggins was guilty of his crime but he had some mental issues, still does. In fact he has been ruled incompetent so even though he is still on death row his appeals are basically frozen until which point he is ruled competent.

    In Huggins trial, well in both trials, that was a pretty infamous case down there in Orlando. Perry granted a change of venue there too or I should say he granted that a jury from outside Orange County would decide the case. It is unclear to me whether the trial itself in either instance was actually moved? The first trial a jury from Duval County (Jacksonville) heard the case. The second trial a jury from Hillsborough County (Tampa) heard the case.

    The big thing with Perry is he is a hang judge but he is rather careful legally. Perry has slapped down Jeff Ashton a few times because Perry seemed to be getting at that regardless of what Baez was doing that Ashton seemed to be getting into the verbal sparring and game playing too much and Perry said he was just not going to put up with that crap from either side. Like recently when Perry slapped down Ashton when Ashton was bullying that witness called by the defense at a recent hearing, it was some professor from the University of New Mexico and Perry told Ashton to get to the point and stop badgering the witness.