Thursday, May 26, 2011

Defense says toddler Caylee drowned by accident

Casey Anthony trial: Defense says toddler Caylee drowned by accident

The defense drops a series of bombshells in the Casey Anthony trial, saying the murder defendant was sexually abused by her father and brother and lied to hide 'ugly' family secrets.

The murder trial of a Florida woman accused of killing her two-year-old daughter opened with a series of bombshells on Tuesday as her defense lawyer told the jury in an opening statement that the toddler was not murdered, but had accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool.

Defense Attorney Jose Baez called the death of Caylee Anthony a “horrible tragedy, a common tragedy.”

But he said the young mother, Casey Anthony, panicked, and instead of calling for emergency help, participated with her father, a former police detective, in a coverup.

“Casey should have been stronger,” Mr. Baez said. “She should have called 911.”

Baez said Ms. Anthony’s father, George Anthony, was present as the two discovered Caylee’s lifeless body.

The assertions stunned those observing the high-profile trial in Orlando. Many had wondered on the eve of the trial how the defense would answer prosecution charges that Ms. Anthony had waited a month before contacting police about her missing toddler.

But the accidental drowning assertion was only the beginning of an explosive account offered up by Baez. The defense’s version of events took several darker turns.

The defense lawyer said George Anthony had sexually molested his daughter Casey since she was eight years old, and that Casey’s brother, Lee, had also sexually molested her. He also alluded to an FBI theory that Lee might have fathered Caylee.

No father on birth certificate

No father was designated on the child’s birth certificate, and the family had sought to hide her pregnancy.

“This family must keep its secrets quiet,” the lawyer said.

“This is not a murder case. This is not a manslaughter case. This is a tragic accident that happened to some very disturbed people,” Baez said.

In an increasingly strange twist, Baez also told the jury that George Anthony not only sought to cover up the child’s death, but actively worked to implicate Casey in what he described as Caylee’s staged murder by allegedly placing duct tape over the dead toddler’s face and then positioning the remains in a place where they would likely be discovered.

“All you have to do is follow the duct tape and discover who placed Caylee’s remains,” Baez urged the jurors.

Prosecution's opening statement

That version of events differs sharply from the account offered earlier during the two-hour opening statement of Assistant State Attorney Linda Burdick.

She told the jury that Casey Anthony had engaged in a pattern of lies to family members and police about the whereabouts of her daughter.

The child was last seen alive on June 16, 2008, yet police were not notified that Caylee was missing until a month later. Word that she was missing triggered a nationwide alert and massive search. The toddler’s remains were discovered Dec. 11, 2008, a short distance from her home.

The cause of death is undetermined, but prosecutors charged Casey Anthony with first-degree murder. If convicted she could receive a death sentence.

At one point, Casey Anthony made up a story that a nanny had kidnapped the toddler. There was no nanny. In addition, Casey Anthony told members of her family that she worked at Universal Studios. Police discovered that, also, was a lie.

“In a pattern that is repeated throughout this case when Casey Anthony’s lie can no longer stand – when she can no longer get out of the corner she has painted herself into – what does Casey Anthony do – Casey Anthony comes up with a new, a bigger, a better lie,” Ms. Burdick told the jury.

'Three pieces of duct tape'

Prosecutors suggested to the jury that Casey Anthony had grown tired of the burdens of being a mother. She allegedly used chloroform to subdue the child and then wrapped duct tape over the toddler’s mouth and nose.

“The only evidence of cause of death are three pieces of duct tape covering [Caylee’s] nose and mouth,” Burdick said. “There is no other reason for the placement of multiple pieces of duct tape on this child’s nose and mouth other than the specific intent to end that child’s life.”

The prosecutor concluded her opening statement by referring to a possible motive. “As difficult as it may be for anyone to accept that a mother would intentionally kill her own children, from the evidence you will hear in this case there is no other conclusion to be drawn,” she said.

“No one else benefited from the death of Caylee,” Burdick said. “Caylee’s death allowed Casey Anthony to live the good life – at least for 31 days.”

Defense lawyers offered a different view of the evidence, accusing the police of conducting a selective investigation aimed more at winning a murder conviction against Casey Anthony than revealing the truth of what happened to Caylee.

“Everyone wants to know how in the world can a mother wait 30 days before ever reporting her child missing,” Defense Attorney Baez said. “It is insane, bizarre. Something is just not right about that.”

“The answer,” he said, “is that she was never missing. Caylee Anthony died June 16 in her family’s swimming pool.”

The defense tactic raised a second question. Why, if her death was an accident, did Casey Anthony lie so frequently to her family and to police.

'Ugly secrets will come out'

The answer, according to Baez, is tied up with Casey Anthony’s past as an alleged victim of sexual abuse and molestation by both her father and brother.

“What does a sex abuse victim look like,” Baez asked. “These ugly secrets will come out slowly in this trial.”

After the opening statements, prosecutors called their first witness – Casey Anthony’s father, George.

He denied sexually abusing his daughter and he denied the version of events offered by defense lawyers that he discovered his granddaughter’s body in the swimming pool, later placed duct tape over her mouth and nose, and disposed of the body.

The trial is expected to continue on Wednesday.
Enhanced by Zemanta

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel After Bilateral Meeting

Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel After Bilateral Meeting

Oval Office

1:35 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me, first of all, welcome again Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think has now been here seven times during the course of my presidency. And I want to indicate that the frequency of these meetings is an indication of the extraordinary bonds between our two countries, as is the opportunity for the Prime Minister to address Congress during his visit here. I know that’s an honor that’s reserved for those who have always shown themselves to be a great friend of the United States and is indicative of the friendship between our countries.

We just completed a prolonged and extremely useful conversation touching on a wide range of issues. We discussed, first of all, the changes that are sweeping the region and what has been happening in places like Egypt and Syria and how they affect the interests and security of the United States and Israel, as well as the opportunity for prosperity, growth and development in the Arab world.

We agreed that there is a moment of opportunity that can be seized as a consequence of the Arab Spring, but also acknowledge that there’s significant perils as well, and that it’s going to be important for the United States and Israel to consult closely as we see developments unfold.

I outlined for the Prime Minister some of the issues that I discussed in my speech yesterday -- how important it was going to be for the United States to support political reform, support human rights, support freedom of speech, religious tolerance and economic development, particularly in Egypt, as the largest Arab country, as well as Tunisia, the country that first started this revolutionary movement that’s taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

We also discussed the situation in Syria, which is obviously of acute concern to Israel, given its shared border. And I gave more details to the Prime Minister about the significant steps that we are taking to try to pressure Syria and the Assad regime to reform, including the sanctions that we placed directly on President Assad.

We continue to share our deep concerns about Iran, not only the threat that it poses to Israel but also the threat that it poses to the region and the world if it were to develop a nuclear weapon. We updated our strategy to continue to apply pressure, both through sanctions and our other diplomatic work. And I reiterated my belief that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon.

We also discussed the hypocrisy of Iran suggesting that it somehow supports democratization in the Middle East when, in fact, they first showed the repressive nature of that regime when they responded to the own peaceful protests that took place inside Iran almost two years ago.

Finally, we discussed the issue of a prospective peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And I reiterated and we discussed in depth the principles that I laid out yesterday -- the belief that our ultimate goal has to be a secure Israeli state, a Jewish state, living side by side in peace and security with a contiguous, functioning and effective Palestinian state.

Obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that’s going to happen between friends. But what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows Israel to defend itself against threats, and that Israel’s security will remain paramount in U.S. evaluations of any prospective peace deal.

I said that yesterday in the speech, and I continue to believe it. And I think that it is possible for us to shape a deal that allows Israel to secure itself, not to be vulnerable, but also allows it to resolve what has obviously been a wrenching issue for both peoples for decades now.

I also pointed out, as I said in the speech yesterday, that it is very difficult for Israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist. And so for that reason I think the Palestinians are going to have to answer some very difficult questions about this agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has been and is an organization that has resorted to terror; that has refused to acknowledge Israel’s rights to exist. It is not a partner for a significant, realistic peace process.

And so, as I said yesterday during the speech, the Palestinians are going to have to explain how they can credibly engage in serious peace negotiations in the absence of observing the Quartet principles that have been put forward previously.

So, overall, I thought this was an extremely constructive discussion. And coming out of this discussion, I once again can reaffirm that the extraordinarily close relationship between the United States and Israel is sound and will continue, and that together, hopefully we are going to be able to work to usher in a new period of peace and prosperity in a region that is going to be going through some very profound transformations in the coming weeks, months and years.

So, Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, first I want to thank you and the First Lady for the gracious hospitality that you’ve shown me, my wife, and our entire delegation. We have an enduring bond of friendship between our two countries, and I appreciate the opportunity to have this meeting with you after your important speech yesterday.

We share your hope and your vision for the spread of democracy in the Middle East. I appreciate the fact that you reaffirmed once again now, and in our conversation, and in actual deed the commitment to Israel’s security. We value your efforts to advance the peace process.

This is something that we want to have accomplished. Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure. And I think that the -- we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality, and that the only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakeable facts.

I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines -- because these lines are indefensible; because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.

Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive.

So we can't go back to those indefensible lines, and we're going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan. I discussed this with the President and I think that we understand that Israel has certain security requirements that will have to come into place in any deal that we make.

The second is -- echoes something the President just said, and that is that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas. Hamas, as the President said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction. It’s fired thousands of rockets on our cities, on our children. It’s recently fired an anti-tank rocket at a yellow school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy. And Hamas has just attacked you, Mr. President, and the United States for ridding the world of bin Laden.

So Israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.

I think President Abbas has a simple choice. He has to decide if he negotiates or keeps his pact with Hamas, or makes peace with Israel. And I can only express what I said to you just now, that I hope he makes the choice, the right choice, in choosing peace with Israel.

The third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state, but certainly not in the borders of Israel.

The Arab attack in 1948 on Israel resulted in two refugee problems -- Palestinian refugee problem and Jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from Arab lands. Now, tiny Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel, accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state.

So it’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen. The Palestinian refugee problem has to be resolved. It can be resolved, and it will be resolved if the Palestinians choose to do so in a Palestinian state. So that's a real possibility. But it’s not going to be resolved within the Jewish state.

The President and I discussed all these issues and I think we may have differences here and there, but I think there’s an overall direction that we wish to work together to pursue a real, genuine peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors; a peace that is defensible.

Mr. President, you're the -- you're the leader of a great people, the American people. And I'm the leader of a much smaller people, the --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: A great people.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: It’s a great people, too. It’s the ancient nation of Israel. And, you know, we've been around for almost 4,000 years. We've experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions. But I can say that even at the dearth of -- even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel.

And now it falls on my shoulders as the Prime Minister of Israel, at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the Middle East, to work with you to fashion a peace that will ensure Israel’s security and will not jeopardize its survival. I take this responsibility with pride but with great humility, because, as I told you in our conversation, we don't have a lot of margin for error. And because, Mr. President, history will not give the Jewish people another chance.

So in the coming days and weeks and months, I intend to work with you to seek a peace that will address our security concerns, seek a genuine recognition that we wish from our Palestinian neighbors to give a better future for Israel and for the entire region.

And I thank you for the opportunity to exchange our views and to work together for this common end. Thank you, Mr. President.


END 1:51 P.M. EDT

    Enhanced by Zemanta