The trial of the 25-year-old Florida mother accused of killing her toddler has become our national obsession. Our TV screens have been tuned to live video of Casey Anthony in the courtroom since the trial started more than a month ago. Fierce debates are happening around the country about whether an insanity defense will be used, whether Anthony will testify, and how much her parents knew.
Those who follow the case will say that we are not interested in how it happened, but why.
Perhaps most compelling are the bizarre moments throughout the trial, including surprise sexual abuse allegations, a fistfight, and courtroom tactics so daring that the defense has been told it is in contempt of court. Here are the 10 moments that have shocked us:
1. Defense argues that Caylee Anthony died in family pool.
In a major shift from Anthony’s statement that a nanny may have killed her daughter, the defense opens by arguing that the toddler drowned in the family pool and that the girl’s grandfather covered up the accident.
2. Defense says Anthony was sexually abused by her father.
The defense makes a shocking claim — that Anthony was so disturbed from childhood trauma of sexual abuse by her father and attempted abuse by her brother that she blocked out the death of her daughter.
3. Anthony lied about boyfriend, nanny, and job
On the eighth day of the trial, testimonies show that Anthony had never dated a man she said she had; that a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez, who Anthony originally said had been responsible for Caylee’s disappearance, did not exist, and that she had not worked at Universal Studios since 2006, despite years of claims to the contrary.
4. Anthony breaks down in tears, can’t continue
In the middle of the trial, Anthony says she’s feeling nauseous and can’t continue. The next day, the testimony shows pictures of Caylee’s body and her tattered clothing, and a witness testifies using an animated video that Caylee’s remains had been chewed and spread by animals. Seeing the animation, Anthony melts down in tears and defense lawyer Jose Baez calls the animation “disgusting … nothing but a fantasy.”
5. Anthony got “Bella Vita” tattoo in weeks after her daughter went missing.
The prosecution harps on the choice by Anthony to get a tattoo that says “Bella Vita,” which means “beautiful life” in Italian, in the weeks after her daughter went missing.
6. Punches are thrown outside of the courthouse
Punches were thrown in mid-June between people waiting in a line for a ticket to watch the murder trial from the courtroom.
7. Defense attorney is told he is in ‘contempt of court’
Baez is told he was in “contempt of court” midway through the trial after he tries to question a forensic anthropologist — in front of jurors — about a piece of evidence that had never been shared with the prosecution. Judge Belvin Perry told Baez he was sure to face sanctions after the trial was over.
8. Judge Perry orders court to recess because attorneys are ‘wasting the court’s time.’
On June 20, Judge Perry recessed the trial for the day at 11 a.m. because he said attorneys for both sides were wasting the court’s time.
9. Who searched for chloroform?
Cindy Anthony says she searched for the term online, not her daughter, because she believed her dogs were eating the plants. But many say that if Cindy’s story were true, she would have searched for chlorophyll, not cloroform. Other searches for words done on the computer for words like “death,” “internal bleeding,” “hand to hand combat,” “chest trauma,” “ruptured spleen,” and “neck breaking” are not explained.
10. Judge Perry orders an abrupt recess because Anthony is ‘incompetent to proceed.’
A secret conversation between Casey Anthony and her lawyers prompts them to ask for an emergency competency hearing and halted court Saturday. Will Casey Anthony be able to go on?
Watch a live stream of the trial here.
See photos of the trial here.