Friday, May 21, 2010

Cookie and Muffin Plan A Road Trip- Continuing.....The Justice For Caylee Anthony Saga

During this chapter of Continuing .....The Justice For Caylee Anthony Saga..... Rather than focusing on the circumstances surrounding the 2008 disappearance (or kidnapping, if you believe Princess Casey's fairy tale) and death of  two year old Caylee Marie, or the efforts of law enforcement to solve Caylee's murder. We have an unusual opportunity to get to know a little more about how Caylee's mother (and accused killer) 24 year old Casey Anthony thinks.

Casey was arrested and charged with child abuse and  lying to law enforcement about the circumstances of Caylee's disappearance within 24 hours of Caylee being reported missing on the evening of July 15, 2008. ( 31 days after Caylee was "reportedly" last seen ) The day after that, Casey hired attorney Jose Baez and instead of  helping with the search for her missing daughter ( beyond the wild goose chase she had taken law enforcement through the day before ), she
decided to invoke her right to remain silent. Casey Anthony was in and out of Orange County Jail (OCJ )  several times for felony economic charges until a grand jury handed down a seven count indictment against her (including one count of !st degree murder) on October 14, 2008. Anthony has since been in protective custody at the OCJ on a "no bond" hold, awaiting her capital murder trial. The trial is scheduled to start on May 9, 2011.,

We've heard a lot about the Anthony family through TV ( news interviews and jailhouse visits ) as well as other forms of media released under the "Florida Sunshine Laws" ( such as depositions and interviews  by LE of Casey Anthony's family and friends and neighbors). A recent form of media that's been released as part of the discovery process are a group of letters Casey allegedly wrote to fellow OCJ inmate Robyn Adams and a  supplemental report from the Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) about verbal discussions that Casey allegedly had with Robin Adams and Maya Derkovic while the three were incarcerated at the OCJ and an investigation into the alleged assistance with their communications by a corrections officer at the OCJ.(The pages in the report that deal with the investigation and interviews with Derkovic and Adams  are pages 1-8 and 160-268, respectively. The supplemental report includes interviews with other areas of investigation that I won't cover in this entry.)

You can read more of the background information of these "two friends" and the investigation that was conducted after Maya Derkovic approached law enforcement about her and Robyn Adam's communications with Casey Anthony in my last post on this case.

I have read all of the jailhouse letters, which to be quite honest is a somewhat tedious process.  These letters are at times funny, sometimes very sad, often confusing because they are all over the place, mostly they are unbelievable, but that's because of "who" wrote them more than what they say. In fairness, it will be up to the jury to decide what weight they give the letters and any of the statements alleged by Derkovic and Adams, should the state or the defense introduce them at trial. Here are a couple of random samples from the collection of letters:
One of Casey's Letters to Robyn

One of Robyn's Letters to Tracy

In this post, I want to talk about some of the things in the letters that made an impression on me; however, I'll do so as I address each of the 4 statements made in the defense response to Anthony's letters (numbered in the order I'll address them below).
Here we go......

At the indigency hearing on March 18, 2010,  Ninth Circuit Judge Stan Strickland unsealed the letters (sealed at state's request until the investigation was done) and allowed Casey Anthony's defense 15 days to decide whether they would seek to have the letters remain sealed. On April 5, 2010, the Anthony defense announced in the following statement in the press they wouldn't fight the release of the letters.

Liz Brown, of the DePaul Center for Justice in Capital Cases, released the following statement as the Defense Response to Anthony's letters:
"(1)The letters released today reflect the natural desire for companionship when isolated for 23 hours a day,  and (3) clearly demonstrate Casey's unconditional love for her daughter, Caylee. Despite these intentions, (2) it is obvious in the letters authored by Robyn Adams that her sole purpose and only goal in corresponding with Casey Anthony was to create 'leverage to get out of prison early.'  Furthermore,(4) despite numerous inaccurate media reports, the letters written by Casey Anthony do not contain a single reference to chloroform or any admissions of guilt. Casey Anthony maintains her innocence and looks forward to her day in court."

Outline of Katfish.....Ponders' Response to the Statements included in the Defense Response to the Jailhouse Letters, Followed by Discussion of the Content in the Letters 

"The letters released today reflect the natural desire for companionship when isolated for 
 23 hours a day."
 I agree with Liz Brown that these letters reflect a natural desire for companionship that comes from being isolated for 23 hours a day. Though some of Ms. Anthony's isolation is self imposed, she would be allowed some visits and to make phone calls but has decided to refuse those privileges.  Any outside contact beyond her "Dream Team" and the prison Chaplain is refused, reportedly because these are the only visits that are exempt from the Sunshine Law. Although the defense doesn't acknowledge it, Robyn Adams was also in protective custody and most likely in need of companionship too when she and Casey began communicating. Although Casey destroyed Robyn's letters to her (* flusharooni* was the plan) you can figure out Robyn's side of some of their conversations by reading Casey's replies. I won't be delving too deeply into Robyn's side of the conversation because this entry will be long enough as it is.

The content of the letters that reflect a need for companionship manifest in several ways, from talk of the  mundane aspects of their day to attempts at raising each other's spirit, getting to know each other and confiding to each other, as well as offering comfort and advice to one another. There are probably others but I'll stick with these...LOL!

When Casey and Robyn share the mundane aspects of their life it is often inter-sprinkled with attempts to cheer each other up. For instance, their fondness for muffins and cookies translated to nicknames for each other. Casey is "Muffin" and Robyn is "Cookie".

Just for the record, a few of the things Casey is sick of  is hot dogs and bologna and Ramen noodles, she craves a Snoopy Snow Cone maker, Smoothies and Chocolate- Swiss Cow Milk. and  some of the things she wishes she had in jail are basketball shorts, a comfy sports bra tank top, a pink hair removal pad she saw on a commercial (Adding, she may try and get her boys to order it for her, shock! Would that "Smooth Away" be considered contraband, like the letters from her parents or the blue pen Cookie gave her? I think so.)
When writing, Casey spends a great deal of her time focusing on the discomforts of jail, what she plans to do when she gets out. She talks about her past (as it pertains to how it effected her) and her aspirations for the future. Most of Robyn's focus seemed to be her legal situation, the affect on her kids and family and her own discomforts with being incarcerated, but she did play along a bit when they made plans for their future. Casey is very supportive of "Everything Cookie" in all of her letters.( She seemed to take immediately to the role of supportive little sister.) Did I mention they talk about God a lot and how good he thinks they are?

It seems both Cookie and Muffin enjoyed passing time fantasizing themselves on a 'Thelma and Louise' type RV trip, that, or an RV Ministry they'll call the 'Sisterhood of the Traveling RV'. They even have some bumper sticker ideas for their RV, ' Legal Partners in Crime' and ' Crazy Convicted Girls gone Wild' . Casey writes Robyn that RV pricing will be fun. The RV will be custom designed, all colorful and creative, adding she wonders what will happen when they put two Photographers / artists together in one RV? *sneeze* Oh, and did I mention they talk about God a lot and how good he thinks they are?
( I think I'll add a dose of reality here....what you get when 2 ex - cons go pricing an RV upon release from the slammer, will probably  look more like this  one below than what Casey has cooked up in her head.)
When Casey talked about their plans for the RV ministry, coming to a city near you she wrote, " We'll bank on the book, travel lots, set-up shop in a fine city in ye ole' US of A, maybe settle a sports bar and definitely a crafty, artsy fartsy place. Sold! Talk about stickers and crafts, I've been making stuff 4 EVER! " ( I hate to say this but it popped in my head....We are quite familiar with your artsy fartsy "sticker" work Casey.....does that explain the heart sticker on the duct tape? grrrrr) Will that be a Sports Bar for the Lord? Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the book that will bank the trip is a "cook book they'll write via different dishes savored while driving the nation". *sneeze* Did I mention they both talk about God a lot and how good he thinks they are? Moving along......

Things Casey says she wants when she is released are," I can't wait to get my teeth whitened and to use my regular toothbrush,toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner....I swear, I won't become obsessively girly! I still have no desire to wear heels unless the occasion calls for it. But Converse, boots and REAL flip flops....ah~ and hats, regular ball caps, sunglasses, and underwear that fits." Then she adds, " Is that vain? Should I not look forward to these things? No matter how little or how much money I have someday, all I want is to live comfortably, not worrying about bills, food or even a few clothes. Everything in moderation and modesty. I want to donate money to charities- leukemia research, breast cancer, cervical cancer (the former for yourself-in your honor) and the latter because of my family and my own physical health." *Sneeze*

This seems like a good spot to segue into Casey's health fears (bordering on hypochondria IMO). Casey writes, " I've been thinking about getting tested for breast cancer and having them check the cell count on the pre-cervical cancer ( crossed fingers that it's still inactive ) but I have a feeling that will constitute a trip to the hospital. No thanks. Not right now. It sucks not having any health insurance- mine expired at the end of the year." Hmmm....would that be insurance from her job at Universal? Right!

In several areas of the letters Casey talks about having seizures in her sleep. She says it started the first time she was bonded out of jail but has continued since she came back in. In her words to Robyn, " I bit my tongue two nights in a row in my sleep....and unfortunately that means something very unpleasant happened, again: seizures. That's the best and easiest way for me to know. Add waking up soaking wet from sweat and somewhat disoriented- definitely a seizure. I don't walk or talk in my sleep, and even if I did, more than likely I wouldn't almost bite my tongue off. I guess all of my headaches make sense too-they aren't all associated with my allergies. I need to tell Jose and see what I need to do about this. I don't care how stressed out someone gets , headaches and seizures don't sound very normal to me." I wonder what advice Dr. Baez gave her on that?

Casey also comments through-out her letters about skin rashes, but  she seems to pretty much accept they aren't serious. I can reassure her on that, it looked like good ole acne to me when they showed her back in the tattoo picture. There is one more symptom Casey mentions through-out her intermittent sneeze. Don't worry though, these aren't health related sneezes, they are signals from God affirming or denying thoughts or words. (Yep, confirm that with another *sneeze*) It seems obvious Casey is very immature and narcissistic, but like it or not, I think this girl is troubled beyond that.
As I mentioned above, Casey also shared some of her past  and aspirations for her future with Robyn. I'll start with the past because that is where the "meat" is. Keep in mind, Casey is a pathological liar when reading about her past. (There is even some things in her past that she admits she isn't certain happened.)

Anthony stated in the letters that she's an emotional wreck and said she was sexually abused."I woke up night after night with my sports bra lifted over my chest or if I had a regular bra, it would be unhooked," Anthony wrote. Anthony claimed her brother would walk into her room at night and feel her breasts."This went on for over three years before I finally stood up to Lee and told him if he ever came in my room again, I'd kill him," Anthony wrote.

Anthony said she informed her mother about the incidents, but that Cindy Anthony turned on her."When I told my mom about it two years ago, she made excuses, saying that he was sleepwalking. Not only did she say I was lying, but when I explained everything, her reaction was literally like a knife in my chest: 'So that's why you're a whore?"  Casey claimed she sought help from a doctor on her own when she was 18. Anthony said she has since forgiven her brother."That's why we're more friends than brother and sister, but even with openly forgiving him, part of that pain will always live in me."Anthony wrote.

Anthony also claimed she thought her father, George Anthony, did the same things to her when she was much younger. She wrote," Over the past few months, I've been having really vivid dreams, and it's obvious that they are dreams of things that have already happened. I think my dad used to do the same thing to me. I can see him in my room, exactly the way it was when I was in elementary school and everything gets fuzzy. But I wake up feeling both sore and sick to my stomach, the way I used to feel growing up. Maybe that's part of the reason I have so much anxiety with my parents."

Brad Conway, the attorney for the Anthony family, said, "The Anthony family denies that there was any improper sexual behavior in their family, nor was there ever a time when Casey told them of inappropriate conduct by her brother or father."

Another area of the past Anthony shared was getting pregnant with "Cays". (You can try and read for yourself in the sample letter above page # 13649 "You and me, Two Peas in a pod.") She seems to confirm Caylee's father is a guy she slept with at the end of November 2004, named Erik from Kentucky although she doesn't 100% rule out Jessie, they slept together in January 2005.. (She expressed some doubt to the accuracy of the paternity test Jesse had done because it took a long time to get the results. She said Jose Baez tried to confirm the results, but Jessie refused to give him DNA.) 
~ A great blogger named Snoopysleuth left a comment below to let us know that Eric James Baker moved to Kentucky and got killed in a motor vehicle accident there in the spring of 2007. I moved it up here for those who may skip the comments. Thanks for the details Snoopy!~

 Anthony also wrote about the search for her daughter, Caylee Anthony. She wrote," You want to know something, I know that Caylee's nanny, the "real" Zenaida, the girl that'd been my friend for 4 years, I know in my heart that she's not responsible but I don't blame her for not showing her face. Would you want to be sitting here with me for something you didn't do?" Casey then added," Considering the circumstances, you technically are and it sucks....And I know this goes without saying,, but outside of my self and my legal team, not a soul knows this..........Casey said she asked Zenaida Gonzalez to watch Caylee so she could prepare to move away with her daughter."Unfortunately, my plans got beyond tangled when Zany wouldn't tell me where she and Caylee were. I had asked her to take Cays for a few days, so I could put the rest of our stuff together, money I had saved, new clothes, new everything," Anthony wrote. "That's why I waited to report her missing, because she was and wasn't. I would give anything to go back to that day and to have not let Caylee out of my sight"
(Is it just me or does her last sentence seem out of place with the circumstances she describes???)

Hmmm......Anthony reported on her first application for indigency on July 16, 2008,  that she had $1200 in savings. I never have heard if that was verified, but if so, where did she earn or steal that? (I mentioned in an earlier entry, Casey also wrote in $1400 bi- weekly for earnings and then thought other-wise and crossed it out $1400 bi-weekly earnings. I thought that was kind of funny, you lie long enough you start to believe the lie?) Why did she need to steal from Amy if she had money in savings? We saw Casey buy clothes at Target with Amy's checkbook, but she definitely didn't buy anything for Caylee.

Casey's letters also told Robyn she suffered a miscarriage in 2007, something she said," only a handful of friends knew about." For some reason she felt the need to add,"I made the mistake of telling Lee, and the week of my 21st birthday, he told my Mom. Lovely! I may have a big mouth, but I can keep a secret" Obviously, most people aren't that loyal. Oh well. We live and learn, stumble and fall, and we dust ourselves off and keep moving forward." Casey acknowledges in her normal way (as in how Robyn's struggles effects her) that Robyn must have shared some of her own struggles in a previous note, she wrote, " It's a comfort to know other people have BS too."

I don't know about you but, to be honest all these Casey fables are kind of wearing on me so I'll share one more and then move on. I thought this one was a perfect analogy of how Casey thinks.....this is what she wrote, " Baby talk.....I always wanted to adopt a baby or child from another country - is it selfish to want one from Ireland? Accent and all? If I do someday, I'll adopt local - US wise."

UMMMM, Yeah right....that's going to happen.
 "It is obvious in the letters authored by Robyn Adams that her sole purpose and only goal in corresponding with Casey Anthony was to create 'leverage to get out of prison early."
I think it's important to point out  that while Adam's letters to her friend, Tracy,  do question the possibility of benefiting from keeping the letters, the fact remains, she is not the one who approached law enforcement (LE) and the transcript of her interviews show that she reluctantly agreed to turn the letters over and take part in the investigation..
Robyn entered into a plea deal (10 years in a Federal prison  for drug conspiracy charges and weapons charges) at the end of September 2008, but wasn't formally sentenced until January 2009 and then stayed at OCJ for another six months or so. Maya accepted a plea deal (30 years in state prison for murder). Katfish...ponders hasn't found evidence that Derkovic or Adams benefited in any way by coming forward, if they have and they testify you can be sure it will come out in court. There have also been media reports that Adams tried to sell the letters before she was approached by LE, I don't know if that's true, but even if it was, the letters are now public record so no one will have need to pay for them.

                   (3) MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY DO YOU LOVE ME?
 " The letters clearly demonstrate Casey's unconditional love for her daughter, Caylee."
 I've went over these letters and even though she does talk about Caylee, somewhat, I can't seem to find where these letters clearly demonstrate Casey's unconditional love for her daughter, Caylee. Anthony said she loved her daughter and believed she was a good mother in search of some freedom."I don't know one single mom who doesn't try to get their freedom regardless of how old they are. That's one of the biggest things that truly cuts me when I hear them talk about me as a mother. I was a great mom. And I love my daughter with everything that I have. I would give my life to have her back even for five minutes," Anthony wrote.

 Anthony wrote that she continues to talk to Caylee every day. (in her letters, she refers to Caylee as Cays)
"When I tell Cays how much I love her, I've always ended it with 'forever and always.' I still do to this day. I talk to her throughout the day, as I do daddy , and it brings a sense of peace to my heart," Anthony wrote. "Thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. I'm an emotional wreck." Have I mentioned lately Casey and Robyn both talk about God aka "daddy" a lot and how good he thinks they are?

I would normally not be skeptical about the comfort anyone receives from God, but I just have to say.... All of the religious banter, citing of scriptures, and talk of their love for God just comes off as disingenuous to me. Before jail, Robyn grew pot and sold it on a large scale, she stole prescriptions from her employer and she and her husband were both sentenced as addicts. Casey was a liar, a thief and a big ole party girl before Caylee went missing. Where was the concern for their children and their God when they were free to live as they chose? I could be wrong but it seems more like a convenience more than a belief.
"Furthermore, despite numerous inaccurate media reports, the letters written by Casey Anthony do not contain a single reference to chloroform or any admissions of guilt. Casey Anthony maintains her innocence and looks forward to her day in court."
 I agree with the defense on this statement. It was wrongly reported that these letters contains references to using chloroform to sedate Caylee. Even though we don't know the cause of  Caylee's death or exactly how the state alleges Caylee died, we have heard about traces of chloroform found in the trunk of Casey's car and computer searches for chloroform. Inaccurate reports that said Casey wrote she had used chloroform to sedate Caylee could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. The OCSO Supplemental Report does include statements from Derkovic and Adam's alleging Casey made these statements and others that "could be deemed incriminating" to them. I say "could be deemed incriminating" because there is a HUGE difference between statements in Casey's own hand writing and those alleged to have been made verbally to a  fellow inmate. Just saying. There is plenty of evidence out there without inaccurate reports.

Although Maya Derkovic and Casey had talked a bit through the ventilation system, Maya was only in the Lima dorm for a short time before transferring to a state prison. For this reason, I'm not going to spend time going  into claims that Derkovic made about things that Casey Anthony told her. I have seen nothing that shows they talked beyond the "vent". I just don't think Casey would make any significant admissions into a vent that anyone could hear, especially to someone she didn't feel she knew well.

Robyn and Casey's rooms (cells) were never close enough to have vent talk, but it didn't take them long to work out ways to communicate by letter and signal to each other at their windows and eventually convince Sylvia Hernandez to break jail rules and allow them to talk through the 'bean hole' in Casey's door regularly and a occasionally Robyn was allowed to enter Casey's cell. Anthony and Adams were the only stationary (being held in protective custody long term) inmates in dorm L. The harassment both Anthony and Adams received from the other prisoners seems to be a catalyst to their friendship as well as their mutual disgust with the vent talkers. (It seems vent talk is  mostly "sex talk", " fighting" and "howling at the moon").

According to the investigator's report included in the OCSO Supplemental report, Adams and Anthony had conversations in reference to the discovery of Caylee Anthony's body. Adams recalled seeing a story on the news in which it was being reported that divers had located a "bag of bones" in the river at Blanchard Park. That night, Adams went to Anthony to talk to her about it. Anthony told Adams that it was not her daughter. Adams recalled Anthony giggling about the story as if Anthony knew it wasn't her daughter.

When Anthony was told that authorities had found human remains in the woods by her mother's house, she became nervous and scared. This was the first time Adams saw fear in Anthony. Anthony told Adams they found "remains" and were taking it to have "DNA done". Anthony also told Adams that the remains were found in a black garbage bag with a baby blanket. This conversation took place shortly after Anthony was notified of the discovery by the prison Chaplain. Due to Anthony's differing reaction when hearing of the Blanchard Park discovery and the discovery of the bag by Anthony's mother's house, Adams felt as if the discovery in the woods was in fact Caylee and that Casey knew that as well. According to Adams, Anthony did not show any remorse.

 Investigators said in their report, Adams told them that Anthony would give Caylee "stuff" to make her sleep.Anthony and Adams discussed chloroform, and Anthony told Adams she would give the toddler "antihistamines or something" to make her sleep. Caylee would have a hard time taking naps, because she was afraid of "missing out on something". Adams said that Casey used the phrase "knock her out" in reference to medicating Caylee to help her sleep. "Casey Anthony liked to have her days free."

 Like I said above, it remains to be seen whether the state or the defense choose to use any of the information from the letters or the "alleged" statements by Casey Anthony to Robyn Adams and Maya Derkovic. I heard today that the prosecution has sent the letters to the FBI to be analyzed along with a letter Casey had written to the Orange County Sheriff shortly after she was indicted. The jury will decide what weight they will place on this evidence as they determine the guilt or innocence of Casey Anthony for the murder of Caylee Anthony.
*sneeze* (that's mine)

For your convenience, a partial  index for:
 "Casey's Jailhouse Letters"
Casey's letters- pages 1-11,15-16.19-24,29-31,35-46, 47-54, 59-61,63-67, 69,
                                     96-98,103-106,111-113,118-119, 132, 140-145,148-150,
                                          153-160, 163, 167-170, 174-175, 178-180, 182-186, 188-198

Robyn's letters to Tracy - pages 18, 25, 56-57, 92-95,114-115,165-166, 205-206, 211

 The pages through 211 that are not listed are envelopes and cutout, jokes, cards beyond that it's duplications as far as I can see.

 OSCO Supplemental Report
    The pages in the report that deal with the investigation of the letters and 
interviews with Derkovic and Adams  are pages 1-8 and 160-268, respectively. There are also interviews with Linda Tinnelli, Krystal Holloway,
Cecilia Benhaida and Rozzi Franco in this report

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting, Waiting, And Waiting Some More....Judge Rules Nicholas Sheley Trial Won't Begin Until 2011

Nicholas Sheley mugshot
The hearing I attended at the Knox County Courthouse on April 29, was originally intended to be a telephonic scheduling conference between Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart, the Prosecution, the Defense and defendant Nicholas Sheley who is housed in the Pontiac Correctional facility. Judge Stewart had scheduled the teleconference earlier this year in an effort to save Illinois some travel expense. Some of the attorneys for the state, one of the defense attorneys and Nicholas Sheley are located through out the state between Chicago and Springfield.

 Unfortunately,  the prison phone system couldn't forward the call into the area of the facility where Sheley is held, so Sheley was transported two hours each way for this half hour hearing.Why Sheley couldn't be brought to an area of the prison where the call could reach ?? I don't know. Kudos anyway to Judge Strickland for trying to keep an eye on the expense. The purpose of the teleconference  was to schedule some hearing dates and deadlines in preparation for the upcoming capital murder trial of Nicholas Sheley, 30, for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, IL . Sheley is also charged for five deaths in Whiteside County, IL and two deaths in Festus, MO. related to an alleged killing spree during the last week of June, 2008.

 I made my way up the stairs to the second floor courtroom about 1:15 pm. The hearing was scheduled to start at 1:30 pm so I had a few minutes to spare. I stopped for a minute to talk to a reporter from Whiteside County, Tara Becker, before taking my usual seat behind the family of Ronald Randall. They always sit in the front row behind the prosecution. This spot gives me a good view of the entire courtroom and a pole to lean on.

 A side note that may be of interest: At the last hearing Tara Becker told me she was reporting on the sale of  the Thompson State Prison to the federal government. I asked how that was going and she said the prison is officially closing as a state owned facility and the few prisoners who were housed there have been moved. In December 2009 President Obama directed the federal government to buy the near-empty state prison in rural Thomson, Ill., to house maximum security federal inmates and lease a portion of the prison to the Department of Defense to house detainees from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The suspected terrorists from Gitmo will not be allowed visitors and the facility will be at least as secure as a super-max facility. The decision is part of a plan for shutting down the controversial Guantanamo detention center. OK, back to the  Sheley hearing.....

In the next few minutes two more members of the accredited press arrive and three of the attorneys from the Attorney General's office for the prosecution and two of the lawyers for the defense. Bill Elward, Micheal  Atterberry and Steve Plazibat from the AGO take their seats in front of where I'm sitting. Lead defense counsel, Jeremy Karlin comes in with new co-counsel Anthony Vaupel.  They take a seat at the defense table, Karlin opens his laptop and they look ready for business. Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer and John Hanlon from the State Appellate Defenders Office won't be in court today.

Right at 1:30 Nicholas Sheley is escorted into the courtroom by four (pretty big) corrections officers from the Pontiac State Prison. He is wearing his tan color prison garb, is fully shackled at his waist and feet. I notice instead of the rubber sandals worn at the county jail, Sheley has on some canvas sneakers. One of the CO's keeps hold of a ring on Sheley's waist chains until he is seated. There are a few Knox County Sheriff deputies and bailiffs in the courtroom as well. As soon as they have Sheley situated, Judge James Stewart takes his seat at the bench and the hearing is under way.

Judge Stewart explains that the scheduled teleconference didn't work out so we are here to do the same business. He first said they couldn't get the  prison on the call, and then said, "well, not to where Mr. Sheley was". Stewart also said that he has four issues that he wants to cover today :

1) Defense co-counsel Anthony Vaupel to update the court on his progress of familiarizing himself with the  case.
2) If the state has complied per Supreme Court rules 412 ( Disclosure to Accused )
3) If the defense has complied per Supreme Court rules 413 ( Disclosure to Prosecution )
4) There is a scheduling motion to be heard.

Judge Stewart asks what the state has on their agenda for today? Bill Elward stands to speak for the state. Elward says they want to set a trial date. Previously the trial was expected to start in October or November 2010 before lead counsel Public Defender James Harrell left the defense. The state is asking for a realistic date that they can work backwards from to set deadlines. Stewart agrees there have been issues with lawyers and other collateral issues that make it necessary to reset the schedule.

Anthony Vaupel rose to address the court. He informs the court that he has been able to read through all of the discovery (over 10,000 pieces of evidence), the court filings, and has reviewed most evidence on disk.
Judge Stewart asks where the other attorneys on the defense are in reviewing what has been submitted in the case? Jeremy Karlin stands and informs the court he has read the entire case multiple times. He adds that he can't speak for Mr. Hanlon, but when they have discussed the case Hanlon is able to speak intelligently about the case. ( I checked my notes and at a case management hearing six months ago, on December 4, 2009, Mr. Hanlon answered that question by saying," all but the last box".)

Judge Stewart says well," How about October or November, does the state have all of it's evidence and it's investigation done?"(Stewart had originally targeted sometime between May and October 2010 for the trial.) Jeremy Karlin says he doesn't see anyway  they can be ready by then. The question of the Motions in Limine for "course of conduct evidence" remains unanswered.

In 2009 the defense filed a Motion in Limine To Exclude Evidence of Other Alleged Crimes or Other Alleged "Bad Acts" at Trial, that hasn't been ruled on. In January 2010 the prosecution filed it's response to the defense Motion in Limine, their first Motion in Limine to admit Course of Conduct Evidence and simultaneously filed a Motion to Seal their Motion in Limine and any defense response because it contains evidence that may or may not be presented as evidence at trial and could taint the jury pool. At several previous hearings Karlin has referred to this as the $64,000 question because he can't comply with Supreme Court rule 413 as to expert witnesses and an affirmative defense until he knows what and how the state intends to use the evidence at trial. The state has contended they can't make that decision until they have some idea of what type of defense will be used. In court documents filed in March, Stewart ruled they would keep the motion sealed until there is a hearing to determine what evidence will be admitted, then the prosecutors will redact inadmissible portions.

Judge Stewart asks Karlin how long after that question is decided would the defense be ready for trial? Karlin replies February or March of 2011. Michael Atterberry stands and tells the court the state will be prepared to try the case then. Stewart says he is not ruling out January, and tentatively sets January to March 2011 for the trial unless circumstances arise that would interfere with that time period. The judge says they need to set deadlines for depositions and a close date for all motions to be filed.

Judge Stewart then asks if  the state has fully complied with 412? Michael Atterberry said, " We believe we have substantially, we're trying to provide what the defense motion just asked for, we have contacted the lab." (This is the first I've heard of this motion, I'll have to see if I can get a copy.) Stewart asks, " Does the defense feel they have complied with 413? Jeremy Karlin replies,"To the extent we know what our defense is."

Atterberry tells the court,  the state can re-plead their Motion in Limine and  asks for 3-4 months to prepare. Stewart says July or August for the state to re-plead and 30 days for the defense to respond, it shouldn't take as long for the defense to respond as it does the state to prepare to re-plead.. Karlin says any information about how the state intends to narrow.....the state conceding is good; however, that doesn't eliminate the defense need for the court to hear live testimony. Atterberry says 3 months needed. Stewart asks if it's necessary for the state to re-plead? Michael Atterberry says the state will do it as an offer of proof by July 1, June 15 at the earliest.

Stewart says if Mr. Karlin decides he wants to have testimony heard the court is available, and adds the deadline for the state to re-plead as an offer of proof is June 30 and then we need to have a case management hearing in July. Karlin says the defense would like an opportunity to respond.The judge says how much time needed to respond? Karlin tells the court 60 days to draft is reasonable, 60 days to respond. Then Karlin must have reconsidered because he says," I agree it's harder to re-plead, how about 45 days?". Judge Stewart responds," 30 days should be enough time, July 30 to respond, and a case management conference August 6 at 1:30.

Judge Stewart asks if the defense can disclose their defense based on the information they have? Karlin says they have done that, but not an affirmative defense, adding the defense can do that within 21 days of the hearing to decide the Motion in Limine. Stewart says 21 days from now. Karlin stands his ground, he tells the judge he doesn't mean to be obstinate but there are some investigations that aren't completed. Stewart tells Karlin he wants them to disclose some affirmative defense by June 30. Karlin answers they (the state) are entitled to know when I know. Stewart says it has been 2 years, it can be amended. ( It seems as though the judge is trying to be as fair as possible here, the state has conceded to re-plead their motion, so the defense can offer up some type of defense.)

Bill Elward stands and asks the court for some confirmation as to the dates that have been set. He lists
offer of proof 6/30, defense response 7/30 and case management hearing 8/6.
Karlin isn't happy with this schedule, he says,"We have addressed this issue, the schedule has us telling you an affirmative defense on the same day." Judge Stewart again says, after 2 years you should... Karlin interjects  but we will have additional information to obtain.

Anthony Vaupel says something about a motion for fingerprint evidence.(This must be the motion mentioned earlier by Atterberry.)  We just got the motion yesterday,Atterberry replies, we have conceded, we'll see if the information supplied is ok. Vaupel asks the court if this can be addressed at the case management hearing on 8/6. Stewart must have agreed because the next thing I heard was an order will be submitted.
Court is recessed. 
The DOC guard grabs the hoop on the back of Sheley's shackle. Sheley takes a scan of the gallery and he is led from the courtroom with his entourage of security to head back to Pontiac Correctional Facility. I spoke with someone who saw them arrive today who said Sheley and  the four guards made the 2 hour trip in 2 vehicles. Sphere: Related Content