Video: Casey Anthony won’t take stand in murder trial

  1. Closed captioning of: Casey Anthony won’t take stand in murder trial

    >>> sanders has been covering this trial every step of the way. kerry, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, ann. the defense called 49 witnesses, some took the stand several times. but the one person who will not testify in this murder trial is casey anthony herself. a choice the judge wanted to make sure indeed was her decision. the defense case wrapped up.

    >> your honor, the defense rests.

    >> reporter: but not before the judge asked casey anthony if she planned to testify herself.

    >> you understand that your decision to testify or not testify is solely your decision, and your decision alone?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> and it is your decision not to testify?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> reporter: in all, the judge asked casey six different ways if she wanted to testify, and while she won't take the stand, there were still several final witnesses on this, the 32nd, and last, day of testimony. among the witnesses -- crystal holloway , a volunteer who once searched for 2-year-old caylee. holloway testified she and casey 's father george became intimate, and during a romantic moment once he shared a deep secret about caylee's death.

    >> he had said it was an accident that snowballed out of control, but i was in shock. and by the time i looked up, his eyes were filled like with tears and i didn't elaborate. i didn't ask him anything further.

    >> reporter: a powerful suggestion of reasonable doubt? the state argues casey murdered her daughter caylee so she could live the care- free life of a party girl . but now here at the end of trial, was someone telling the jury george had a secret? remember, the defense claims caylee accidentally drowned in the backyard pool.

    >> they need to know right now that statement is no proof of how this child died.

    >> reporter: the jury also saw george anthony 's eight-page suicide note . his failed attempt to kill himself a month after caylee's remains were found. and in that note, there was no mention of a drowning or a coverup. but it did say, "i am sorry. i love you, cynthia marie. caylee, here i come. lee, i'm sorry. casey -- and it ends there, with no comment to his daughter. a case ready for closing arguments. but for this moment, a spectator who gave the prosecutor what the judge called his middle finger of affection. the judge said those antics could have jeopardized the jury's impartiality so judge belvin perry took the 28-year-old, matthew bartlett , a server at tgi fridays brought him up and sentenced him to six days in jail and fined him plus court courses, all made sure to do it all in front of the jury.

    >> kerry, thank you. star jones is a veteran legal commentator and savannah guthrie is "today's" legal correspondent. scale of 1 to 10, 10 being total shock, how do you feel about casey anthony not taking the stand?

    >> it's a 1.

    >> 1 or 2.

    >> there was no way it was going to happen.

    >> under no circumstances. they had literally months and weeks of lies that casey anthony told as it related to thedy appearance of her child. we would have been watching this brutal cross examination of a pat logical liar for days and days.

    >> not only that, the jurors have actually heard her lie in real-time. they've heard the tapes, seen the videos. so therefore, they know how she sounds when she's telling a lie, a lie that she's now admitted. why would they believe her when she takes the stand?

    >> let me go back to the defense's opening statements in this case. all right? they said that caylee died accidentally in the family swimming pool and that george anthony helped cover up that situation. they also accused him of sexually molesting casey going back to when she was a child. then they didn't call one single witness to the stand during the trial to back up those claims. so when they set out for their closing arguments, do they have the legal right to bring any of that back up?

    >> i think they'll be very, very limited in what they can argue. as you say, there isn't really one scintilla of evidence of sexual molestation. in opening statements , you say what i intend to prove at trial. in closing arguments you're confined to what you have proven at trial. and the lawyers' questions, george anthony for example? that's not evidence.

    >> you are allowed to draw logical inferences of the evidence that's been presented. no evidence has been presented.

    >> so that's done. okay. crystal holloway took the stand yesterday, a/k/a river cruise . was she credible?

    >> she sounded credible and believable if you think that was only about her wanting to get the truth out. but if you believe that this is the kind of woman who attaches herself to high-profile incidents, which she even had to admit on the witness stand , then you would not find her credible.

    >> i would add, even if you do believe her, and you believe that george anthony said that key statement, "this was just an accident that snowballed out of control," number one, i think jurors could think, well maybe that's what he believed at the time. it's not exact ly a smoking gun statement. and number two, i bet star was going to say -- the judge gave a limiting instruction saying you can't use this.

    >> when the jury could start deliberating this weekend, has the prosecution laid out an adequate case or are there major holes in this the jury will pick apart when they start deliberating?

    >> i think there may be some holes for first degree murder. but i do think that she is going to be convicted ultimately. i think they showed that forensically they had a tight enough case that she's going to be looking at the charge.

    >> all right, star jones , savannah guthrie , thank you, ladies. appreciate

NBC, and news services
updated 7/1/2011 8:16:42 AM ET 2011-07-01T12:16:42

Casey Anthony's attorneys rested their case Thursday after Anthony told the judge she would not take the stand in her own defense at her high-profile murder trial.

After Anthony's defense attorney told Judge Belvin Perry he would not be calling any more witnesses, Perry asked Anthony directly if she had decided not to take the stand. Anthony is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

"Is it your decision not to testify based upon consultation with your counsel?" the judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Anthony answered.

She told the judge she agreed that she made that decision freely and voluntarily.

The jury also saw a note from a failed suicide attempt by Casey Anthony's father, who wrestled with questions about what happened to his granddaughter. Casey Anthony claimed he helped her dispose of Caylee's body after she drowned.

At different parts of the note, George Anthony wrote: "Casey does not deserve to be where she is" and "She (Caylee) was found so close to home. Why?"

Video: Anthony will not testify in capital murder trial (on this page)

The prosecution began its rebuttal on Thursday afternoon. Closing arguments will follow and the jury could begin deliberating by this weekend. If convicted of first-degree murder, the 25-year-old could receive the death penalty.

Her attorneys never produced any witnesses bolstering the claim made in last month's opening statements that Anthony had acted without apparent remorse in the weeks after her daughter's death because she had been molested by her father as a child, resulting in emotional problems.

"If you do not at least present facts to support that argument, the jury is going to think you have no credibility," said Tim Jansen, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee. "When you promise the jury something and don't deliver it you severely handicaps your client's case and you undermine your credibility with that jury."

Story: NBC News' Kerry Sanders on the Casey Anthony trial

Instead, the 13-day defense primarily focused on poking holes in the prosecution's contention that Anthony killed Caylee in June 2008 by covering her mouth with duct tape. Prosecutors said the woman dumped Caylee's body in the woods near her parents' home and then resumed her life of partying and shopping. Their case relied on circumstantial and forensic evidence, and it did have holes: Prosecutors had no witnesses who saw the killing or saw Casey Anthony with her daughter's body. And there was no certain proof that the child suffocated.

The prosecution began its rebuttal Thursday by walking through the door opened on Wednesday by the defense when it allowed parts of George Anthony's suicide note to be admitted. The note included George Anthony asking questions about the death of his granddaughter. Several members of the jury were glued to their monitors as the prosecutor projected the letter for them to read.

"Who is involved with this stuff for Caylee?" George Anthony wrote at one point in the letter to his family in January 2009.

Story: Casey Anthony trial spectator jailed for giving the finger

The defense said in its opening statement that Caylee drowned and that George Anthony, a former police officer, helped her cover up the death by making it look like a homicide and dumping the body near their home, where it was found by a meter reader six months later. George Anthony has vehemently denied any involvement in Caylee's death, the disposal of her body or molesting his daughter.

Florida A&M law professor Karin Moore said she was "confused" throughout the case by the defense's approach.

"The defense could have attacked George Anthony weeks ago on cross-examination during the state's case, but waited until late in the trial," she said. "I think they waited too long to ask the big questions and got themselves in trouble."

The defense's final witnesses Thursday included Krystal Holloway, a woman who claims she had an affair with George Anthony that began after Caylee disappeared. She said he told her in November 2008 that Caylee's death was "an accident that snowballed out of control." George Anthony has denied having an affair with her but admitted visiting her home on several occasions.

They also recalled George Anthony to ask if he had supplied duct tape he used to put up posters of his granddaughter when she was missing. He said he couldn't remember. Lead defense attorney Jose Baez also asked him if he buried his pets after their deaths in plastic bags wrapped with duct tape. Anthony said he had on some occasions. Prosecutors have contended Caylee's body was disposed of in a similar manner. Under prosecution questioning, he said he had never thrown their carcasses in a swamp.

Caylee was last seen in mid-June 2008. For the next month, Casey Anthony avoided her parents, telling her mother and her friends that Caylee was with a baby sitter named Zanny.

Casey's parents soon got a notice that their daughter's car had been towed. George Anthony and the tow lot operator both said the Pontiac Sunfire smelled like death.

Prosecutors played a tape of a frantic 911 call made by Anthony's mother, Cindy, reporting her granddaughter missing. She tells the operator, "It smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

Casey Anthony then told detectives that Caylee had been kidnapped by the nanny, and a massive search was launched. Over the next several weeks, hundreds of volunteers scoured central Florida for any clues to Caylee's whereabouts. Meanwhile, numerous photos surfaced of Casey Anthony drinking; some of them allegedly taken in the month after Caylee disappeared.

Caylee's skeletal remains were reported in December 2008 by a municipal meter reader. A key part of the defense case was trying to discredit the meter reader, Roy Kronk, saying that he had actually discovered the body in August.

This story includes information from AP, NBC News and staff.


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