Video: Judge deals blow to Casey Anthony defense

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    >>> the junge in the casey anthony murder trial just dealt a big blow to the defense. within the hour he ruled that he would not allow an expert witness , a forensic science to testify about dna analysis on fluid found many the trunk of casey 's car. the judge is allowing him to testify about the duct tape . lilia is outside the courthouse. who else is taking the stand today?

    >>> good afternoon, jose. this afternoon we expect that maybe mallic the 0lead investigator intergrated casey in universal studios after that wild goose chase around the studios when she was saying that she worked there. it was quite a heated interrogation. we heard the tapes. and according to the defense back then in cross examination , they said that this investigator was biased and thought that casey was a suspect or considered her a suspect from the get-go. so that might be a heated interrogation as well today.

    >> these are live pictures from within the courtroom. did the jury hear from a crime scene investigator and a forensic botanist? it's getting kind of out there.

    >> reporter: it is. this was a very interesting testimony today because this botanist said that she considered the body, caylee's body has been had been in those woods for no longer than two weeks. in cross examination she seemed a little bit confused. when con frontd about a bone that had been buried in four inches of muck, she said that she did not know this bone was there and the bone might have landed there after a dog maybe placed it there to which the prosecutor jeff ashton seemed incredulous. we just heard from the prosecution -- sorry to interrupt you, the prosecution just mentioned one potential witness that might come along down the road. the prosecution's case is done. apparently they just heard a call that came in to the orange county sheriff 's office that said an inmate who was placed right next to casey anthony 's cell while she was in jail suffered -- or rather her daughter was survived -- i'm not sure if she survived or died, underwent an accident in a pool outside the home and that her grandfather was the one who rescue her rather similar to the defense's story. now this could or could not be used to say that casey anthony used this information maybe to make up her theory. i'm seeing now the details on ? this. this woman is called april. her daughter drowned in the backyard pool her grandfather pulled the child from the pool. so this could be very incriminating evidence if the prosecution gets to interview this witness of where casey 's accident story came from. we just heard of this. let's see how this developments.

    >> it's going to be interesting. thank you very much outside the courtroom. and now let's bring in defense attorney jeffrey fighter. good to see you.

    >> good to see you.

    >> let's talk about the significance of excluding dna analysis , that testimony?

    >> it's significant because the judge wants to be very careful to give the defendant a fair trial . in this case the judge must feel confident that the defense attorney had failed to disclose to the prosecutor completely across the line and was therefore on solid legal grounds. when a judge starts turning against the defense attorney in this way, there's some pretty good indication that the defense attorney has done other things to upset this judge. i think it reflects an attitude by the court now that the court's concerned about where casey anthony 's getting a fair trial as a result of the poor representation being provided to her.

    >> there's a hearing tomorrow, i understand or possibly tomorrow or thursday to determine if forensic scientist testimony, dna stuff is admissible or not?

    >> remember this is all -- i mean, where's the story? in a murder trial the two essential things for a defendant are credibility and an understandable alternative story. here there's none. that appears to be no credibility whatsoever. and just sitting there trying to poke holes in the prosecution's case will not do it. you must present a feasible ? understandable, acceptable, reasonable story. and none has come out from the defense that anybody rationally would believe.

    >> thanks for being with us. always an interesting situation going on there in florida.

msnbc.com news services
updated 6/21/2011 10:35:24 PM ET 2011-06-22T02:35:24

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that a woman housed in a jail cell next to Casey Anthony had a child who drowned in a pool, a story similar to that given by defense lawyers for the death of Caylee Anthony.

The new information came in a phone call from a citizen at the end of last week and is still being investigated, prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick said.

The state sent investigators to speak with the woman from the neighboring jail cell, and she told them that she did not talk to Casey, Drane Burdick said. It was unclear from court testimony whether the woman remains in jail.

Casey, 25, is accused of using duct tape to suffocate her 2-year-old daughter Caylee on June 16, 2008, then storing her body in the trunk of a car. Defense attorneys maintain Caylee accidentally drowned in the Anthony family's backyard pool, and no one reported her death.

Caylee's skeletal remains were found in woods near the family's home in the Orlando area on December 11, 2008, following a nationwide search.

The highly publicized Florida murder trial is now in its fifth week.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys again challenged the prosecution's forensic evidence.

Forensic botanist Jane Bock testified that Caylee Anthony's remains could have been in the woods for as little as two weeks when they were discovered in December 2008. Prosecutors contend the body was in the woods for more than six months, since the time she disappeared that summer.

The defense suffered a setback when Judge Belvin Perry ruled that its DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom could not testify about decomposition evidence found in Anthony's trunk until a hearing is held.

Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in Caylee's death in summer 2008. She faces a possible death sentence if convicted and has pleaded not guilty. The state contends she used pieces of duct tape to suffocate her child. The defense says the toddler drowned in her grandparents' swimming pool.

Bock told jurors she believed the roots could have grown through the bones, skull and a laundry bag containing the skeletal remains in just two weeks.

She said her estimate was "because of the pattern of leaf litter" she observed on photos of the scene in the woods where the remains were found. But Bock said she couldn't tell just by looking at the photos how long the plants had been there.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton seized on that uncertainty in his cross-examination and noted that photos Bock relied on to make her assessment weren't taken until February 2009, more than seven weeks after the area was cleared of vegetation. He also showed Bock photos taken at the time of recovery and challenged her with more questions.

Video: Could bickering cause Casey Anthony mistrial? (on this page)

"Clearly some of those leaves have been off the trees for longer than two weeks, were they not?" Ashton said.

Bock replied it was possible, but also said they could have been there longer.

Perry restricted Eikelenboom's testimony because he said the defense violated his pretrial order that all expert witnesses present detailed reports about what the subject of their testimony. Perry agreed with the prosecution's argument that the report he provided was only a summary.

"That should give each side ample opportunity to do what they need to do," Perry said. "And it is a remedy short of exclusion."

The judge, however, did accept Eikelenboom as an expert in general DNA analysis.

In that limited capacity, Eikelenboom testified that by using the "low-copy number" methods he's trained to interpret he would have expected to find DNA on the duct tape the state believes covered the mouth of Caylee Anthony. He said the wet and hot conditions of the area the remains were found would make it difficult, but not impossible.

"If it's in bad conditions, DNA can break down ... but you could expect to still find DNA," Eikelenboom said.

Ashton suggested under cross-examination that Eikelenboom was trying to use this case to earn publicity for a new DNA laboratory he and his wife recently opened. He also pointed out that Eikelenboom didn't have his doctorate in forensic DNA.

But under re-direct Baez highlighted a Colorado case in 2005 in which Eikelenboom had already gained media attention by getting a man exonerated on DNA evidence he analyzed.

During lunch, Baez accused the prosecution of a discovery violation, for what he said was late disclosure of computer evidence from the hard drive of the Anthony's family desktop.

Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick said a notice of what they planned to possibly introduce in their rebuttal case was just submitted, but that the defense had possessed copies of the hard drive information for two years. Specifically, the state said it may highlight evidence of computer traffic on June 16, 2008 — the day Baez said in his opening statement that Caylee Anthony drowned.

Video: Judge deals blow to Casey Anthony defense (on this page)

Baez admitted he initially received the information in 2009, but said the state never narrowed down what specific information they'd use. Perry ruled there had been no disclosure violation.

"It became quite evident from (the opening statements), that for the defense June 16 was a day of great importance," Perry said. "...You all knew what dates would be of particular importance."

The final witness of the day was analytical chemist Marcus Wise, a colleague of Oak Ridge National Laboratory forensic analyst Arpad Vass. Vass testified during the prosecution's case that he detected an unusually high level of chloroform in a carpet sample from Casey Anthony's car and that a chemical analysis found its presence consistent with the process of human decomposition.

Wise said that it was impossible to know what actual vapor existed in Anthony's trunk from the sample. But he said under cross-examination that his test did show a "relative abundance of chloroform."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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