Image: Geraldo Bloise, an investigator with the Orange County, Fla., Sheriff's Department
Joe Burbank  /  AP
Geraldo Bloise, an investigator with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, testifies in the Casey Anthony murder trial Tuesday at the Orange County Courthouse  in Orlando, Fla.
updated 6/7/2011 3:06:55 PM ET 2011-06-07T19:06:55

A defense attorney for a Florida mother charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter suggested Tuesday that a crime scene investigator altered crucial evidence.

Casey Anthony's defense attorney questioned crime scene investigator Gerardo Bloise about why he dried out garbage found in a bag in Anthony's car. The bag is important since defense attorneys say a foul odor in the car came from the garbage, while prosecutors contend the smell was of human decomposition.

"You had no idea it would alter significant items in this case?" defense attorney Jose Baez said during cross-examination.

Bloise said he was following protocol, since drying out evidence preserves it and makes it easier to examine.

Story: Expert: Anthony car smelled of human remains

Caylee Anthony's skeletal remains were found in a wooded area not far from her grandparents' home in December 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty to killing her daughter, and if convicted, she could be sentenced to death. Her defense attorney has said the toddler drowned in the family's swimming pool.

A scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory also returned to the witness stand Tuesday. Arpad Vass, who developed a new technique for detecting decaying bodies, was called back because prosecutors had showed him the wrong can containing the odor from Anthony's car during his testimony Monday. They showed him the correct can Tuesday.

During Monday's testimony, Vass described smelling an "overwhelmingly strong" odor of human decomposition in the can containing an air sample from Anthony's car.

Vass has pioneered a way of detecting human decomposition from air samples and detailed for jurors his research on the chemical compounds observed when a body breaks down. Until Monday, the tests had never been admitted in a trial in the United States.

Vass told jurors the amount of chloroform in the car's trunk was "shockingly high." Chloroform is present during decomposition.

An FBI expert on Tuesday appeared to contradict Vass' assertions about the amount of chloroform in the car and said the chemical also is present in common household cleaners.

"It was not the most chloroform I've seen in 20 years," Michael Rickenbach said under cross-examination.

Rickenbach said he detected amounts of chloroform in Anthony's trunk comparable to that of household cleaners. He also noted the substance is present in water. Rickenbach tested carpet samples from the trunk's spare tire cover and from the right and left sides of the trunk.

Rickenbach acknowledged, during later questioning by prosecutor Jeff Ashton, that describing chloroform levels as high or low is subjective.

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Video: Anthony defense pokes holes in forensic evidence

  1. Closed captioning of: Anthony defense pokes holes in forensic evidence

    >>> trial of casey anthony , entering its third week today. nbc kerry sanders is in orlando with the very latest. good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, meredith. today prosecutors in the court are putting forth their technical case, the crime scene forensic evidence they say proves that casey anthony murdered her 2-year-old daughter, caylee. meantime, outside the courthouse, again today, the public jostling for tickets for seats inside the 23rd floor of this courthouse. almost every day 3 1/2 hours before court begins --

    >> go, g go.

    >> reporter: -- there's a race. no someone is allowed on courthouse property until exactly 5:30 a.m . at that moment from sidewalk and back allies, the curious hoof it for position.

    >> number one in the line.

    >> reporter: there are 62 seats a day set aside for the public, spectators from across the country, traveling here to see for themselves the 25-year-old mother casey anthony , accused of murdering her daughter caylee.

    >> it 's wonderful to be a part of it. and we're really excited the public has an opportunity to be a witness to this and see the action in the courtroom.

    >> you can see the root portion of the hair is distorted.

    >> reporter: on saturday, karen lowe, an fbi expert on trace evidence , began to detail the prosecution's forensic evidence . a single strand of hair taken from the trunk of casey anthony 's car, that the fbi crime lab concluded fell from the scalp of a corpse.

    >> one of the items had a hair that exhibited --

    >> reporter: the defense arg gus not only is the testing inconclusive that the hair was from a dead person but that the single strand was even caylee's.

    >> the best we have at this point is that the hair either belonged to caylee, casey , cindy or even cindy 's mother. any other maternal relative?

    >> correct.

    >> reporter: casey now admits she waited 31 days to tell anyone her daughter was missing. when she did, the store that a nanny had caylee was all made up. prosecutors allege casey stowed her daughter's dead body in the trunk of her car before eventually dumping it in the woods near her home.

    >> this is my label identifying what's inside the can.

    >> reporter: prosecutors claim they captured the stench of death. orange county senior crime scene analyst explained how the odor was extracted from the trunk of casey 's car.

    >> this is the very first time you've ever taken air samples, correct?

    >> yes, it was.

    >> you have no training whatsoever in the collection or preservation of air samples?

    >> this is the first time i've heard it done, that's correct.

    >> reporter: the cans have not been opened in court and the judge may never allow it. if he does, it will be the first time this sort of evidence has ever been presented in a u.s. courtroom. meredith?

    >> kerry sanders , thank you very much.

    >>> pat brown is a criminal profilerauthor of "the profiler," and savannah guthrie , our legal analyst. good morning. as kerry mentioned, the prosecution is now in the scientific phase of its case. how important was the testimony regarding that hair found in the trunk?

    >> it's incredibly important because, of course, for the last few weeks we've been hearing these witnesses talk about the lies that casey anthony told, her behavior, but the bottom line is, we haven't yet seen scientific evidence that ties casey anthony to this crime scene . this single piece of hair, if the prosecution expert is believed, shows that casey -- caylee anthony 's body was in the trunk of the car after death, but there are some problems with the science, as the defense pointed out.

    >> exactly. and she admitted that she can't say for certain -- with certainty that is, in fact, a hair from caylee.

    >> not only can she not say with certainty if it's caylee's hair, she can't say with 100% if this is a hair that fell off the body after death. that's a crucial fact.

    >> also this testimony that the prosecution is expected to present this week about the stench of death, what they say is the odor of caylee anthony 's decomposed body in the trunk of her car. she have admitted they have never collected air samples before, they are not trained to do so. is this a risky piece of evidence to present to a jury?

    >> i think it's very risky. obviously, if it works, this would be a profound piece of evidence for the jurors. on the other hand, the prosecute ares already have lots of testimony from varying witnesses about that powerful foul odor inside the trunk of the car. they say it was unmistakenably human decomposition. to use this novel science, something that potentially, if there were a conviction, could be the basis of being overturned on appeal, i'm not sure why the prosecutors want to go that far.

    >> yeah. pat, prior to this trial casey had said repeatedly that her daughter was kidnapped. then you have that opening argument from the defense that said, no, actually she wasn't kidnapped, she drown in the family pool and casey 's father helped cover it up, in fact, casey was molested by her father george as a trial. what do you make of that defense strategy ?

    >> i think it's a very stupid defense strategy . we thank you, jose baez. he's basically admitted that child died in the home, so we can already get that one out of the way. now we have all this physical testimony coming in about, you know, i think it's pretty good, actually, because what we're doing is showing that not only did that child die in the home, but then casey 's running around with a car with her dead child in the back of it. so, they set up -- the prosecution set up a good thing. they showed her as a really cold-blooded psychopath for the past week. i think anybody sitting there is going, wow, you know, that's a scary woman. and jose baez made another stupid move by throwing the antho anthonys under the bus. only three people in the world that believe in casey and he just tossed them out. i mean, now there's nobody. i think the jury is already looking at her as someone capable of killing and now the physical evidence is showing she's the one that had the body with her.

    >> do you think the defense will have to put casey on the stand?

    >> i think they're up against the wall right now. there's not much left they can do. i think they actually might take the chance of putting her on the stand hoping, because they have a little interesting thing going on with cindy anthony . cindy anthony was not well liked until cindy anthony took the stand. now there are people out there saying, we really feel sorry for cindy . now, i guess they might be hoping casey can pull off the same thing. put her on the stand, have her start sobbing and crying and looking pitiful and maybe one person on the jury will say, that's one messed up girl. maybe she really didn't kill her daughter on purpose. i think that's what the defense is going to hope for.

    >> pat brown , savannah guthrie , thank you both.


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