Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Visit to Orlando For A Hearing In The Casey Anthony Murder Case

I was fortunate to be able to spend 10 days in Tampa (Brandon), FL with family over the Christmas holiday. It was a fantastic trip....a lot of wonderful family memories were made :) However, one memory is not of time spent with my family, but a little side trip I made to Orlando, on December 20, to attend a hearing in the Casey Anthony case. Although the experience was interesting for me, the hearing ended up being pretty short and uneventful, so I decided not to take more time from my family to write about it.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie. She has pleaded not guilty, claiming a babysitter kidnapped her toddler. Caylee was last seen in June of 2008, but she was not reported missing until a month later. Her remains were found in woods near the family's home in December 2008.

Now that we've been home a few weeks and I'm caught up on some other cases I've been following, it seems like a good time to share my Orlando experience. Before leaving IL, I had printed up directions on Mapquest with directions from my nieces home to the Orange County courthouse in Orlando. The route was a pretty direct shot, but I'd be remiss if I didn't give kudos to Mapquest for their helpful directions... for example step #10. Take the 2nd LEFT onto E LIVINGSTON ST. If you are on N ORANGE AVE and reach E ROBINSON ST you've gone about 0.1 miles too far. (When you've never been to a location before, those extra details really help and Mapquest offers them through-out :)

Even though I drove between 70-80 mph (keeping up with traffic....honestly) most of way, the 90 mile trip took about 1 1/2 hours. Once I completed step 10 on my directions I noticed a sign that said "Juror Parking" leading into a parking garage, I took the turn and found a spot to park.

Orange County Courthouse complex  Orlando, FL
Coming out of the parking garage(building on left in picture) on ground level, I notice the courthouse is right in front of me (it's huge). I follow signs directing to the main entrance, right before entering, I pass Jose Baez heading in the other direction. I assume the attorneys have a different access but make a mental note that Baez has that "Dennis the Menace" type smile on his face that many (including me) have referred to as a "smirk".....seems that's his regular look. LOL, I bet he was an ornery kid.

I head on into the courthouse through the main entrance and see a long line of people going through security. Before taking my place in line, I ask at the information desk, "Where is Judge Belvin Perry's courtroom?" Without even looking up, the employee tells me, "Up on 23".  It took just a few minutes to go through the security line and then I head for the far bank of elevators that will go up to 23. Once on the 23rd floor I see Judge Perry's chamber on one side and the courtroom is on the other side of a waiting area. There are several people sitting and standing around. No one looks familiar until I notice the back of Dave Knechel (aka Marinade Dave) speaking to someone behind a pillar. I stand back until I have a chance to catch Dave's eye so that I can introduce myself to him. I then notice the person Dave was speaking with is Casey's attorney for the penalty phase, Ann Finnell. She appears to be looking for something in her briefcase so I'm not really interrupting. Right after we shook hands, a man with a walker called Dave over to him and introduced himself and his wife to Dave. Evidently a fan of Dave's blog. That's nice :).

There were a dozen or so people standing and sitting around the waiting area when Jose Baez got off the elevator and says hello to Ann Finnell and Dave. Baez says the hearing is down on the 19th floor and heads back to the elevator, everyone in the waiting area follows him. Dave and I end up on the same elevator as Ann Finnell and Jose Baez, there were others but I can't tell you who because no one is familiar. From the conversation, I learned one was local media and another was Cindy Anthony's current attorney, Mark Lippman. I don't remember who said it ( probably JB ) but there was work being done on Judge Perry's courtroom so the hearing will be held downstairs. Dave told me the courtroom on 19 is the smaller courtroom where Judge Strickland presided over the hearings in this case before he recused himself. (I guess I should have asked the information guy where Casey Anthony's hearing was instead of Judge Perry's court. Oh well, it was an interesting ride down.)

When we get off the elevator, Jose Baez, Ann Finnell and Mark Lippman  head on into the courtroom.
Evidently the rest of us have to wait :(  Moments later Cindy Anthony appears, peaks into the courtroom and is allowed in. Cindy is alone today. I wonder to myself if Cindy isn't single these days....pure speculation of course.....but the way she is dressed seems to be trying to lean towards a " younger, sexy ? " look and she may just be trying to hook up with a biker dude.. She is wearing gray jeans that are "muffin top tight". The legs of her jeans are tucked into boots that have buttons or buckles on the side. I remember them as a charcoal color with a felt or knit shaft, but have heard them referred to as black leather.(I could be wrong) She also has on a gray sweater with an black and purple argyle print on the front  and a purple knit shirt underneath. It seems she has toned down the jewelry a bit, but just an FYI from one 50ish gal to another....too tight boot cut jeans do not take the place of the current trend to wear skinny jeans tucked in boots and matchy matchy gives our age away every time.he..he... I don't want to seem too harsh on Cindy because I doubt she has money to keep up with the clothing trends, just saying.... If ya can't do it right......

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone to speculate that Cindy's attempt at a "tight younger look" and George's repeated absence from court  may be an indicator of trouble in Anthonyland. I noticed after the hearing that George Anthony authorized Lippman Law Offices, P.A. to issue a media statement on December 17, 2010  rebutting statements George's "alleged" girlfriend, Krystal Holloway (aka River Kruz) made to the Sheriff department, in a February 2010 interview. The interview was released as a  2 part audio as part of a document dump on December 17. Who knows?  The state of the Anthony's marriage really isn't relevant to the criminal case...personally, given what we know about their "history" I  would have dumped him long ago.

When we (the public) are allowed into the courtroom Casey has already been brought in. The prosecution side (on the right) is pretty empty but behind the defense in the front row is Kathy Belich from WFTV, at the end of her row is a huge television camera. There are people from various media working with electronics in each row on that side as well. In the second row behind KB is Cindy and her attorney. There was another couple behind them......until they moved over to my row.....later I read the couple came down from NY for the hearing and she is a regular over at The Hinky Meter. I'm disappointed I didn't know who they were. (Waving at Kathy now!)

There is a tall bald man (accompanied by a short blond woman), that Dave had spoke with earlier out in the hall, sitting in the second row behind the state. I assume he is with the media because he got into the courtroom ahead of us. Later I learn he is Jim Lichtenstein, a producer from NBC for the Today show. I've had heard this guy usually sits with Cindy Anthony in the courtroom, but not today. Dave K. took the aisle seat in the third row behind them. I take a seat in the back row (after checking to make sure I have a good view of Casey if she turns to the side).

December 10
For the most part, I can only see Casey Anthony from behind, but I noticed at the hearing a week or so ago, Dec 10, that Casey seems to have lost the weight she gained during her first year or so in jail. Wonder if this is a factor in her weight loss? (I came across that article looking for a photo online of the courthouse. ew!) I've never followed much on Casey's commissary purchases, beyond her own account in her letters to Robyn Adams, but it seems she has options beyond the meals served to prisoners at the jail, so the weight loss must be intentional.
December 20

Right away, I notice Casey has on the same shirt she wore at the last hearing, a long sleeve blue and white pinstripe oxford with ruffles along the buttons. Honestly, it looks like she has been sleeping in it for the past 10 days. Today Casey has a multi-level ponytail that looks thrown together. Did she even plan on attending court today? Within minutes the gallery is filled behind the state and the hearing is ready to get under way. Judge Perry calls the case at 1:31 p.m. Jeff Ashton is the only representative for the state today (He looks very tired). . The attorney for the Orlando Sentinel, Rachel Fugate is sitting in the well behind the state's table.

This hearing was scheduled to hear a motion filed by Ann Finnell on November 23, seeking to seal the defense witness list for the penalty phase from public and media view. The motion couldn't be heard on the 10th because the media hadn't been noticed in the original motion.(oops Annie, don't let Jose rub off on ya) Judge Perry agreed to put a temporary seal on the list until the media had an opportunity to respond on sealing any part of the record.....and that brings us to today.

This is a video of the hearing:

Since I included the video of the hearing and it has already been heavily covered, I won't go through a play by play of the hearing but rather just provide a summary and some highlights.

Ann Finnell gave a 10 minute presentation to the court of her "MOTION TO SEAL PENALTY PHASE DISCOVERY RESPONSE" . Basically the defense stance is that with the excessive publicity making these witness' names public would impede Ms. Anthony's right to a fair trial and furthermore would result in a chilling effect with some witnesses being unwilling to come forward with information for fear of harassment and stalking. When Ms. Finnell  was finished Judge Perry asked if there was a response from the state. Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton said no.(The state already has access to the witness list so they have no stance on the sealing of the penalty phase witness list)

Rachel Fugate came to the podium to argue the Orlando Sentinel's motion to intervene. Fugate argued that there should not be a blanket seal, but that the defense should argue to have certain witness's information sealed on a case-by-case basis adding the burden to prove a predjudice exists is the defense burden, not the court's. talking out of turn Jose
 Just One and a half  minutes into Ms. Fugate's argument, Jose Baez rose from his seat to object to the still photographer zooming in on notes his client was writing. (20.33 on the video above). Immediately Judge Perry stopped Baez and reminded him court procedures pointing out that only one lawyer has the floor....and it wasn't him.! Ann Finnell quickly stood and objected. “Well,” the judge added, “unfortunately, the objection will be noted and overruled.” Ms. Fugate not only picked up her argument where she left off, she also made statements in defense of the court photographer who is a seasoned pro and challenged the defense to find an example where something like that has been published. Judge Perry gave Ann Finnell the opportunity to rebut Ms. Fugate's argument, particularly the part of her argument that the claims the defense motion is too broad.

After Ms. Finnell's short rebuttal, Judge Perry says he will reserve ruling on the motion to seal penalty phase witnesses, adding the list will remain temporarily sealed until his ruling is made .

Perry also reminded defense attorney Jose Baez that he has until Thursday (December 23) to file a motion to pursue meter reader Roy Kronk as a possible suspect in Caylee's death. Kronk found Caylee's body in a wooded area on Suburban Drive near the Anthony home. Perry said he assumed Baez had given up on that defense strategy, but Baez said he misunderstood his deadline and thought he has until December 31 to file.  Judge Perry makes it clear that deadline was for motions to be heard not filed.

Jose Baez was on his feet again about an issue regarding a previous sidebar ruling. Perry called the attorneys up for a short sidebar. I'm not certain, but I think the sidebar had something to do with Dr. Henry Lee. The judge told Baez to supply him with some info he needs re Dr. Lee and the hearing was over.....all 26 minutes of it. :)

I almost forgot to mention....the guy sitting next to me had a small camera/video recorder in his hand throughout the hearing. Several times I thought he was going to sneak a picture of Casey, when the defense went to the stand for the sidebar he made his move. I don't know if he got the shot, but a bailiff came over and told him to knock it off.

I rode down in the elevator and walked out in front of the courthouse with Dave Knechel. I met Dave for the first time in person today, but as a long time reader of his blog, I feel like I have known him for a long time so I felt comfortable enough to give him a big ole hug before I left the courthouse. Just for the record, Dave doesn't smell like dirty laundry, but very much like Polo cologne.Nice! LOL

On January 7, 2011 Judge Perry issued a ruling that denied the defense motion to seal that was argued on December 20th. The order states that arguments made by Casey Anthony's attorneys fell short of the standards required to seal the list of witnesses who will be called if Casey is convicted and there is a sentencing phase.I couldn't find the order itself but here is the article that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel.

This case is expected to go to trial on May 9, 2011. If convicted of 1st degree murder of her daughter Caylee, Casey Anthony may face the death penalty.
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  1. That's exactly right, Katfish. You hit it right on the nose, so to speak, about how the hearing went and what I smelled like. It was very much my pleasure to have met you. You are a delightful person and you're right, I felt very comfortable around you, as if we've known each other a long time. You are a very warm and caring woman and it certainly showed the second our eyes connected.

    Your description of the day's events was excellent. You picked up on things I missed, which makes us complementary. Thank you for the nod, too. I didn't want to say anything about our meeting until you had your chance to do a write-up. I hope we can do it again someday!


  2. Dave, I very much enjoyed meeting you too! I would love to attend a day or two of the trial....hmmmm.....several nieces have May birthdays.....Mr. Katfish wants to drive down next time so that he will have his electric wheelchair instead of his old manual one. I'd rather fly because of the convenience...2.5 hrs and we're there. Snoopy should join us.....Mr. Katfish has a nice wheelchair lift and he can fit more than one wheelchair in his big ol' boytoy truck :)Hope your parents are feeling better.Thanks for stopping by:)

  3. Great job as usual katfish. It was as if I was right there with you in the courtroom! <3 Sprockey

  4. Hey Kat,

    Excellent article!

    As you walk us thru everything it makes us feel like we are there and apart of everything!

    When you have the time will you drop me an email? I have your old one and I can't fine the new one you gave me.

    I wanted to give you a Eric P. update.


  5. Thanks Sprockey {{{HUGS}}}

    Check your e-mail Randie, and TY too :)

  6. I just want to thank everyone who has posted links to this article.....I don't get out to forums much so not many are aware of my blog....wish the hearing would have been like the two after I attended. I found those down right entertaining and overdue.
    I notice many of the names on the now released penalty phase witness list are on the state's witness list for the guilt phase.hmmmm

  7. I read this the day you posted it and got so caught up in the moment, I forgot to thank you for taking your time and energy to attend the hearing.

  8. Thanks Ritanita for taking the time to stop back and comment :) I enjoyed the experience even though it was a long drive for a short and pretty much uneventful hearing.

  9. Hi Katfish: Thanks so much for this. I think you are so lucky to have gotten to attend a live hearing! It would be impossible for me, but I surely would love to.

    I especially enjoyed all the attention to detail you gave, and all your personal observations.

    The Caylee Daily recently had a short article on Casey's commissary account. Apparently, it was slightly in the red for the month of December, so possibly this could account for some of her weight loss. Cindy deposited $200.00, though, and also some others--so she probably has lots of treats now.

    Also, I have always heard that being "on camera" can make a person look about 10 pounds or so heavier. Maybe seeing her in person made you feel that she looked especially thin?

    I'm looking forward to the hearing tomorrow; although, I think it is just a status hearing. I wonder what will transpire?

    (I'm really having trouble getting my comment to post. I'll try Anonymous.)

    Thanks again. Nan11

  10. Hi Nan11!

    Sorry you had trouble commenting....sometimes I even have to put a comment through 2 or 3 times to get it to post??? IDKW?? I'm glad you decided to go ahead and post anonymous and then sign so I'd know it was you :) ~waving~

    I hope someday you get the chance to attend a court hearing in person.There is nothing like being in the courtroom vs watching on tv or live stream,the energy is palpable! Although it can be difficult to take accurate notes, keep track of the interpersonal stuff and note details the camera might miss, it is a great experience and I'm glad I could share it. If you watch the video, the camera picks me up quite a bit (apparently because I'm in the line of vision from Casey) and my head is down furiously taking notes most of the time....I did come up for air ocassionally.LOL!

    I have been attending pretrial hearings in the Capital Murder case in IL of Nicholas Sheley for the last 2 years and blogging about it here, so I do feel comfortable in the courtroom. Sheley is accused of killing 8 people in IL and MO during a week long killing spree in June 2008. His trial is tracking about the same as CA but he has much better representaion.

  11. katfish, kudos on a great article. I got to see you sitting there busy taking your notes. It was so nice to put a face to a name. I am glad you had the chance to meet Dave in person. Your article was very descriptivie and it was easy to visualize all of the events. It takes a great writer to accomplish that and, you my dear, are a great writer.

  12. Thank you mainstreamfair! That means a lot coming from you :)
    I subscribed to your buzz off Baez article and have been enjoying all of the comments coming in my email, very informative! I think I'll skip subscribing to the next article though, because I just makes me lazy. I haven't been over to throw in my 2cents ;)
    I have been meaning to add you to my blogroll. I'll do that right now. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Hi Katfish, I also read Dave K's site and then occasionally leap over to one of the links he has posted. I really enjoyed reading your recap. You did a great job! I'm so disappointed that my darling daughter decided to move from Port Orange to Richmond, VA. Visiting her took me to FL at least a couple of times a year. I really wanted to come down (I'm in snowy MI) and catch a live Casey! Maybe I'll still do it!

  14. Patricio, Thanks for taking the time to comment, I do recognize you from Dave's. Things are warming up in Orlando in and out of the courtroom so it's a great time to go. I want to try and attend at least a few days of trial (My Tampa family has alot of May birthdays) I don't know how difficult it will be to get in at trial because of the coverage expected, but if I get down there I'll try. I hope Dave will be able to get in with the press, he has been so faithful in attending. Stop back anytime!

  15. You really have a way with words, Katfish. I will be reading here more often! Continued success. MB

  16. Well,thank you MB and welcome to my "pond"!

  17. katfish: I'm just dropping in to say thanks for your great blog posts on Casey's letters.

    I dropped in earlier and came across your link for the 35 page document concerning Robin and Clay. Honestly, I was left searching for words. I feel as if I need to take a large add out in the newspaper warning young people about the danger of drugs! :lol:

    Seriously, though, at one point they had guns on the kitchen counter, guns on the kitchen table, and guns on their bed. I don't even want to know where her children were. No wonder things look a little different to her now that she has been forced to spend time without her "crutch".

    I think they were very lucky that LE stepped in when they did; otherwise, who knows how far things could have gotten. Maybe, today, they would be facing murder charges.

    Enough on them--sorry for off topic. Also, if you're area got hit by that storm, I hope you survived it well. (It's just hitting my area tonight.)

    Take care, and thanks again.


  18. Hi Nan11,
    I found that criminal complaint mind boggling. what in the world they were thinking. Have you seen Clay and Robyns "wedding page"? If not, let me know and I'll get you the link. It's interesting because of the insight to the people in their lives.

    I don't think you are OT. As infrequent as my posts are if a comment is about anyone related to this case it's on topic. I will try to do another post on this case soon....there have certainly been a lot of interesting developments in this case lately. Looking forward to Friday's hearing. Fri will be a full day for me because I will be attending a hearing of accused spree killer of 8, Nicholas Sheley at 9:30 that is expected to last 2 hours, then Anthony hearing 12:30 my time AND Mr. katfish is in the hospital again. I may have to settle for the video of CA's hearing but I hope not.

    Thanks for stopping by Nan11. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment too. TTYS

  19. Hi Katfish: If you have that link handy, I wouldn't mind taking a peek at their "wedding page". Only if it's handy, though.

    I'm looking forward to Friday's status hearing also; sometimes they're entertaining. I'm holding my breath; however, I don't want anything to happen that would delay the trial.

    With Bill Shaeffer's comments last night concerning how the latest bar complaint could affect Mr. Baez's credibility with Judge Perry--I'm left remembering Cheney Mason saying to Judge Strickland: "You trust me don't you?" (That is not a direct quote, just the best I can remember.) Not long thereafter, they had a new judge.

    So, I just don't know what to expect next; but, it is interesting.

    It sounds like you are very busy--I hope Mr. Katfish is feeling better soon.

    I'll check in later, no hurry for that link. It's always a pleasure to read here.


  20. Great to read your post, Katfish! I need to brush up on things over the next dozen weeks or so..

  21. Hi dadgum! Great to see you!Hope you and yours are doing well ;) We are definitely on the countdown. Hopefully the latest Baez fiasco won't throw a wrench in it. There has sure been some interesting discovery of late.....don't know how much of it will make it in front of a jury though.

  22. Here is the link to Robyn and Clay Adams wedding page:

    For those who don't know, Robyn Adams is Casey Anthony's jailhouse "penpal".

    The best man turned out to be the informant who took Robyn and Clay down(interesting sidenote, he was also on the dive team Padilla used at Blanchard Park to search for Caylee). The maid of honor and the bride's father held Casey's letters for Robyn.

  23. Hi Katfish:
    Thanks very much for the link. You know, I hadn't realized that they had just gotten married in June of '08.

    It's jolting to realize the danger her children were in, from the exposure to both the drugs and the guns. I'm sure they were of an age where things of that nature would interest them.

    If I had just stumbled upon their pictures by accident, I would have thought what a "lucky" couple--great kids, great friends, great jobs, great future. They had many blessings.

    Well, I caught the hearing this afternoon. I found it "busy" with little details; but, my favorite part was Mr. Baez discussing the jury selection with the Judge.

    I don't know where the Judge finds the patience to deal with him. lol

    nan11 (Anonymous)
    Sorry to be commenting under "anonymous"; I really did try to accomplish it the correct way.

  24. Anonynan11,
    I don't mind you commenting under anon, but I'm glad you sign your name so I know who I'm talking to. What type of account are you trying to comment with? Sometimes I have to press post comment twice to get it to go through. Are you by chance on a Mac? Sorry you're having trouble posting.

    I'm bummed I missed this afternoon's hearing. I need to find it online. How long was it?

    Sheley's hearing only took 1 hour instead of 2 but when I wrote today's date in my notebook at the hearing, I remembered my Aunt's 79th birthday is Casey's hearing lost out.....hopefully Dave and Johnathon will put something up.

    I think Robyn's kids are with their father. Casey mentioned in one of her letters that she was sorry he interfered with Robyn's contact with the kids. Hopefully that's a better environment.

  25. katfish: The hearing lasted a little over an hour. Here is a link for all three parts plus a video report by Kathi Belich.
    It's pretty good, really.

    No, I'm not on a Mac. I select "WordPress", enter nan11. (I'm already logged on.) When I hit post comment, it tells me I don't own that identity.


  26. I wonder what Casey whispered to Baez at the end of her hearing and it looked to me she motioned to Cindy in court? Also, I am curious if someone will try to sell Casey's hand written notes after the trial...

  27. Hello Anon 2/8,
    I have no clue what Casey whispered to JB, but I can make a few things up:

    Let's see, "Tell my so called mother to spend less time on herself and iron my shirt for court next time."
    Hmmm...." Have you ever considered a shorter haircut Jose? You would look much younger."

    LOL, one more, " I was sooo impressed when you stood up and complained about that guy with the telescopic lens on his camera....made me hot!"

    As for Casey's letter's they are now public domain. I have them loaded at Doc stock as do many others.....they are only worth value of the paper they are copied on.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Anon 2/8 I think you're right, Casey bestowed a little wave upon Cindy at the end of this hearing......(Think she buttered her up a little so she'll iron her clothes next time???)