Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Visit To The Casey Anthony Murder Trial On June 8, 2011- Part 1

Will this trial  be the final chapter in the Quest for Justice for Caylee Marie Anthony?

 Mr. Katfish and I are here in Florida to visit family in Tampa for a couple weeks. We have been having a nice visit, but for me, the trip wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of the hottest Summer attractions (obsession?) in Disney World or Universal  Amusement Parks, Busch Gardens or even the Kennedy space "hotspot" is the Casey Anthony capital murder trial taking place in Orlando. Most people reading here at Katfish....Ponders already know that I'm a trial junkie and this blog is devoted to cases of true crime and missing people, most of which eventually end up working their way through the American criminal justice system, my true "passion".

I intend for this post to be an in-depth account of my visit to the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando, FL on Wednesday, June, 8, 2011. I don't plan on giving an "entire account" of the testimony given today because there has already been so much reported (by people more qualified than I ); however, if you have any questions just ask, I took copious notes. The entire day was also streamed online, by various outlets as well as televised by HLN and TruTv's " InSession" and at least one local station, all live.  I'll be sure to include links to the coverage at the end of the post. What I really want to share with you is my personal here we go......

My husband and I are staying at The DoubleTree Hotel (very nice) on Ivanhoe and Orange Avenue, approximately a mile north of the Orange County Courthouse....My Mr. has little interest in trials so he plans on doing some "sightseeing" around downtown Orlando and hanging out at the hotel while I attend court. I hope to be able to get into the trial on Wednesday for the whole day and Thursday for a half day so our reservations are for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. We decided to stay over in Orlando because the court is allowing people to start lining up at 5:30 am to get the coveted 50 seats available to the public. Tickets are handed out between 8 and 8:30. I'm not even going to drive 1.5 hours to get in line at 5 am. LOL

Our plan is for Mr. Katfish to drop me off in front of the courthouse a little after 5, maybe come back and meet me for lunch, and then come and pick me up when court was over for the day. We planned it this way so that he would have a vehicle if he decided to get out in Orlando. After seeing there was plenty to do right at the hotel and realizing that DoubleTree by Hilton has some of the most comfortable beds we've ever encountered at a hotel, at about 4 am on Wed, Mr. Katfish decided he really didn't need the truck (LOL), so I drove myself that .8 mile South on Orange Avenue to the Orange County Courthouse ;)

Casey Town
As I enter the block in front of the courthouse, I can see "Casey Town" on my right, a mass of tents and awnings (I learned there were over 700 requests for media credentials and about 600 were issued). Across the street from Casey Town and directly in front of the courthouse building is a large media truck marked with COURT TV on the side. There doesn't seem to be a lot of activity yet in the media areas so I turn my attention to finding a spot to park and notice all of the parking meters on the block are covered to prevent parking.

L-R  parking garage, administrative building, 23 floor Orange County Courthouse, and another administrative building with a courtyard in front of the OCC and in between the 2 administrative buildings .
  Immediately on my left is the parking garage that I used when I attended a pretrial hearing on December 20, 2010 (We were in FL for Christmas with family). I see some lights are on in the parking garage and there are a few cars already parked....there is also a car at the entrance that I assume is stopped to grab his parking ticket ( I think it's $15 max for the day) just as I pull in I notice a line of about 20 people are standing on the Orange St. sidewalk in front of the administrative building (between the parking garage and the courthouse).
Orange Ave sidewalk where the early birds gather
I'd heard the court had allowed the lineup to move from across the street to this spot on the sidewalk that passes the courthouse complex at the street. (I assume to eliminate some of the stampede at 5:30) I'm starting to feel pretty excited about being here.....that and the caffeine is starting to kick in. WooHoo!

I pulled right behind the car entering the garage and notice out of the corner of my eye some more people are being dropped off to join the line. I'm regretting not having Mr. Katfish drop me off and the car ahead of me isn't moving....WTH? I honk my horn and immediately I regret my impatience...not my normal I get out and approach the car. I smiled at the man in the car to soften the sting of my horn and ask if he plans on parking. I notice the man has on a uniform and realize he is some type of courthouse employee, thankfully, he smiles back at me before pointing out the cone blocking his entry....he tells me the garage opens at 5:30 (it's about 5:15 now) and then asks if I'm here to get a ticket for the trial. When I tell him yes, he suggests I go ahead and park on the street behind the courthouse so I can get in line, adding the meter maids don't start patrolling until 9am. I thank him for his kindness and get back in my truck and back out to go around the block. I find a parking spot with no problem, feed the meter for the maximum allowed, 2 hours (I don't want to chance our only transportation being towed off. LOL) and cut through the back of the courthouse entry/courtyard.

~Time to get in line ~

When I get to the front of the courthouse there is a OCSO deputy/bailiff standing in the courtyard near the corner of the administration building, I smile and tell him I'm here to get a ticket for a seat, the officer points to a roped off area under the awning on the administrative building and I see the people from the line are being allowed to come on the courthouse property now (Basically just turning the corner of the building and the line begins at the opposite end up near where the bailif was standing.). To my relief there is no running or inappropriate behavior that I can see so I take my place in line. It looks like 30-40 people in front of me...drats...I hope I get a seat!

One thing I notice right off is the number of young people around me in line. Directly behind me is a group of 3 girls who appear to be early to mid twenties. In line in front of me are 2 guys in their early twenties, and in front of them are 3 more girls in their very early twenties. The first  30 or so people in line ahead of us look to be in their 40's and 50's for the most part, and there he is....right at the front of the line, neck brace guy. LOL! Most of the people who show up in the next 15 minutes or so are older women, hopefully they will get in. By about 6 am it's obvious there are way more people here than will be able to get in, regardless, everyone stays in line and remains pretty civil, some young adults at the end are getting a little loud but really they are just acting goofy, not belligerent.

The guys in front of me (since we end up sitting with each other all day, at the risk of sounding like Casey Anthony, I'll call them "my boys" from here on out.) have attended the trial another day so they are "sharing their knowledge" about the workings of this ticket system with the pretty young girls ahead of us and behind me. Of course, I'm all ears and learn after a while, that when everyone is pretty well established in line, people can step out and use the restroom (located in the building we are lined in front of) or move their cars. I'm relieved to hear this...I was just thinking about calling Mr Katfish and ask him to either ride his electric wheelchair here or get a ride from the hotel shuttle to pick up the truck. I wait until some around me have ran their "errands" and then go move my truck into the parking garage at about 7 am. Good! Now I don't have to worry about that.

All morning there have been camera crews taking still shots and video up and down the line. A few of them are taking head counts too, after several tell me I'm number 40-42 I feel comfortable I'll get a seat. My boys tell me the first 20 are seated on the main floor in the courtroom and the rest are seated in the balcony with the media.

Jim Lichtenstein, a producer for the Today show is trying to find who in line has traveled the farthest to be here. Everyone near me was from FL. I'm not sure who Lichtenstein came up with...perhaps he should have checked among his colleagues....there was a reporter from Japan trying to interview people in line. A reporter I spoke with from the Miami Herald told me the Japanese reporter doesn't speak English but his camera girl does, so she is pulling double duty. Can you believe with everything going on in Japan, they would send someone here to report this case? I suppose it's a diversion.

I found the reporter from the Miami Herald, Audra D.S.Burch, to be a very interesting person. After I told her I have a true crime blog and have occasionally written about this case she asked me to leave the line for a few minutes and sit down on a nearby bench to talk. (A welcome break after standing for hours, many have sat on the sidewalk but I was afraid if I got down there I would have trouble getting up with these knees ~ o ~ mine. LOL) Here is a link to the story Audra wrote about the trial and those attending for the Miami Herald. It's very interesting, she was here all week and interviewed a lot of people...I also did a search on Ms. Burch and linked (with her name above) the results, she has written some very interesting pieces and won some prestigious rewards. I'm glad I had the chance to meet her.

At about 8 am , staff from the court comes and hands out laminated sheets with rules of conduct for the courtroom. The energy is increasing in the line now, those who didn't receive a sheet will not get in this morning, but most stay anyway. My boys tell me there are usually a few people who get kicked out for sleeping or some other infraction and some people don't come back for the afternoon session so it's possible these people could get those seats. At 8:15 the court personnel take back the laminated rules sheets and at 8:30 return to hand out the actual seat tickets. Here is my ticket:

Once the tickets are handed out people disperse from the line. I head straight over to the main entrance of the courthouse and get in line again. This line is for everyone coming to the courthouse (for whatever reason) to go through a security checkpoint.Surprisingly, this only takes a few minutes so I make a "pit stop" up on 23 before I go into the courtroom. In the ladies room I speak with a woman who also has her husband stashed at their hotel....they are from Tennessee and came specifically for her to attend the trial. She said her husband had retired recently and hadn't been able to pry her from the TV watching the trial so he finally told her, "Let's just go to Orlando!" I thought that was a hoot!

~ Let's head into the courtroom ~

I make my way into Judge Perry's courtroom on 23 and a bailiff checks my ticket and directs me to a stair well on my left to go into the balcony. When I get up to the balcony another bailiff tells me which row to go to....I'm kind of bummed when I realize my seat is smack dab in the middle of the row. Once everyone is seated I look around and realize my whole row is made up of the same people I was right in line with. The 3 girls behind me and another woman have the 4 seats behind me and my boys are right next to me with the 3 girls ahead of them seated before them at the beginning of the row. There are 5 rows of seats, the first 2.5 rows are media seats. There are monitors across the front row that are showing split shots from various cameras throughout the courtroom being manned by people who aren't familiar.

The first person I recognize in the media section is Dave Knechel aka Marinade Dave. Dave is a blogger from Orlando that has been closely following this case and was hired by the Orlando Magazine to cover the trial for them. He is seated in the row in front of me at the far end. I'm happy for Dave to have received the media credentials so he can attend daily. Once Dave sees me he smiles and indicates we will meet in the hall at the morning break. I have followed Dave's blog for a long time but had the opportunity to meet him in person last December when I attended a hearing in this's funny how you can meet someone on the internet and become friends but not even know what each other looks like and then when you do meet feel like you have known them forever. It's like that with Dave and me but I have also had the same experience with others. I met another "trial buddy", Karental, for lunch in Tampa and it felt the I had known her forever. Life is good :) I look forward to meeting up with many more of my online friends in the years to come!

~ A Little "Starstruck" ~
 Back to the trial....court will start in a few minutes so I look around to see if I see any "big names". Throughout the day I saw,  Jean Casarez  InSession Correspondent / Attorney sits in the front row keeping an eye on one of the monitors and a producer from InSession named Mike who does some on air reports sits right behind her. Ashleigh Banfield is here, now a reporter for ABC,  formerly of CTV / In session. Judge Jeanine Pirroformer District Attorney and County Court Judge who now hosts a tv "court show" with her name, is here and seated with a couple people. Aphrodite Jones, Author and TV host of "True Crime with Aphrodite Jones" on Investigation Discovery, came in and takes a seat that in a few minutes turns out is Natisha Lance's seat, Nancy Grace Producer. The first witness was on the stand when Natisha entered the balcony so she tells Aphrodite to stay in her seat and takes an empty seat next to Dave; however, Natisha immediately reclaims her seat when Aphrodite leaves later in the day. I thought Aphrodite looked a little tired when she came in this morning but much more so now as she leaves, hope she's not sick that's all everyone squished in this balcony needs◔_◔ . Another woman takes the seat that Natisha just left next to Dave and stays there for the remainder of the day. (I assumed she was a reporter, but later learn her name is Susan Constantine, after seeing her make a couple appearances on HLN to speak as a body language specialist.) I should note that the bailiff is very strict about people remaining in their seats assigned by the court seat ticket for media and public....I'll talk about this more in a bit. I didn't note when Beth came in; however, Beth Karas, InSession Correspondent / Attorney comes in later in the afternoon and replaces Jean Casarez in the front row.

Here are a few  pictures I grabbed off the internet of Baez and the Anthonys. I can't really say I'm starstruck by any of the Anthony family but without a doubt they are the "stars" of this case. I barely caught a glimpse of George and Cindy when coming into the entry of the courtroom to reach the balcony. The lower gallery is dismissed before the balcony is allowed to disperse when court breaks so the Anthonys and other people in the gallery are gone before I reach the hallway or the elevator. Casey and her defense team are in full view from the balcony 
and her "mug" is plastered all over the media's monitors in front of us.

 ~ Order is the rule of the day ~

The bailiff get's everyone's attention in the balcony and reminds everyone of court decorum. He says anyone caught sleeping or being disruptive (chewing gum, talking, etc) will be asked to leave and not allowed back in the courtroom for the day. He reminds everyone to silence their cellphones and says that nobody can have out their cellphone, IPad, etc unless they are wearing media credentials. I already turned my phone off before I came up the elevator....I do not want to risk the ire of Judge Perry. The bailiff also reminds the accredited media they are restricted to texting on their devices. This is definitely Judge Parry's court nothing is left to chance.

All day the bailiff on the balcony kept a very close eye on everyone in the balcony and the gallery downstairs. I noticed that a bailiff downstairs also monitored the balcony and the gallery, it seemed like a very structured procedure. I'll talk about this more in a bit, but the Honorable Judge Belvin Perry has entered the courtroom and things get underway for day 13 of the trial.

After the court officially recognizes both parties. (I count 3 attorneys at the state table adjacent to the jury box and facing the court and 6 attorneys at the defense table directly across and facing the jury box, there is someone sitting at the table the defense would have normally been seated at that I think might be an investigator for the state or possibly another attorney.) Jose Baez is on his feet. The defense wants to renew their previous objections on the record about evidence coming in pertaining to the cadaver dogs. Judge Perry says," As for the video training, the trier of fact can determine the credibility but they must know the training.Objections denied." The videos weren't shown today, maybe yesterday(?), at any rate, the videos are part of the evidence so the jury will have access to them. Being on vacation I've missed a lot of the trial so far....I try and hit some blogs and news outlets to keep up as much as I can but I'm sure I've missed some things.

~ The State's Case in Chief continues Day 13 ~
     First Witness - Sargent Kristin Brewer
Sgt Brewer's mark

Assistant State's Attorney Linda Drane Burdick (LDB) calls the state's first witness for the day, Kristen Brewer of the Osceola County Sheriff Department. Sgt. Brewer reported her own work history and background with search dogs before she testified to the training and history of her cadaver dog, Bones, as well as the logistics and results of Bone's search of the backyard at George and Cindy Anthony's home ,on Hopespring Dr., on July 17, 2008. LDB showed Brewer a photo of Caylee Anthony's playhouse in her grandparents' backyard, Brewer circles the area indicating where her dog was in the yard when he alerted.

Deputy Forgey's mark

Brewer's testimony follows up yesterday's testimony of Deputy Jason Forgey of the Orange County Sheriff's Office about his dog, Gerus, who searched and alerted on both the Anthony's backyard and Casey's Pontiac Sunfire. Brewer told LDB that after Bone's first search and alert, Deputy Forgey told her "Gerus" had alerted "within" 6 - 8 feet of "Bone's" alert in the back yard. Here is the picture Forgey circled of the same area of the backyard in previous testimony....looks pretty close to me. Hopefully the jury will have access to both pictures.

Jose Baez arrows on Brewer's mark
 During his cross examination of Sgt. Brewer, Jose Baez went to great lengths to get her to admit that 6 - 8' from where she had circled was over by the pool which is out of range in these pictures the red arrows are Baez artwork. (You can see the direct and the cross of Sgt. Brewer in parts 1 and 2 below.) 


I finally found a picture of the Anthony's yard.....check out the distance from the playhouse to the pool....wayyy more than 6-8' for sure,
they are on total opposite ends of the house! The arrow in this particular
picture is pointing at the shed but you can see the roof of the playhouse
at the corner of the house.

I've noticed the prosecution team has worked their way through the specific timeline of this case when presenting their case in chief, down to presenting this testimony in the same order as their dog's searched the Anthony home. Hopefully the state presenting their case in this manner will make it easier for the jury to focus on the timeline when they deliberate as well as go through the evidence.

I'm going to break right here because this is the point in the testimony that I had to leave my seat and go to the ladies room and take a pain pill. I have bad knees and while the seats themselves are padded and comfortable I have long legs and there is NO room to move my even attempt to cross them creates a hazard of kicking someone in the head. I'll be back with part 2.

Links to YouTube Video of day 13 of the testimony
Thanks to Sierra for posting these!

June 8, Day 13 - Part1
                            Part 2
                            Part 3
                            Part 4
                            Part 5
                          Part 6
                           Part 7
                          Part 8
                          Part 9
                          Part 10 
                          Part 11        Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stacey Barker Sentenced Today! updated 7/6/2011

update: Stacey Barker has been transfered to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She was transfered on 7/5. It usually takes a week before the inmate's reception is listed. Will let you know when we find out! 

Superior Court Judge Hayden Zackey sentenced Stacey Marie Barker, 26, of Lancaster, CA today, June 17, for her May 24, 2011 convictions related to the death of her 18 month old daughter, Emma Leigh Barker, on March 18th, 2009.

Katfish...ponders originally reported the dispositon of the sentence will end up as 62 years, however after further investigation I've learned that may not be accurate. Here is my current understanding of the sentence:

Count 1, First Degree Murder = 25 years to life

Count 2, Assault on Child causing death = 25 years to life (stayed)

child abuse = 6 years

child abuse = 6 years

special enhancement / allegations  = 4 years.

It's our understanding the sentences are to be served consecutive, credit for time served (2 years) will be given and Barker is not eligible for any good time off her sentence. We are not certain what the actual disposition of the sentences will be, but we can say pretty confidently that Barker should be well past the age of being able to conceive another child before she is free again. At this time neither the booking record from the LA county Jail or the LA County Superior Court's Online records are showing the sentence or disposition other than to show Stacey Barker is now under the jurisdiction of the state prison system. As soon as we learn the actual minimum time she will be serving we'll update this.

Here is a CBS 9 Los Angeles news report of the sentencing hearing and case:

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