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Jury ends 1st day without verdict on Casey Anthony

Prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder trial gave their rebuttal final argument Monday by trying to persuade the jury that their forensic evidence was strong, countering the defense accusation that it was based on "fantasy."
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Jurors in the Casey Anthony murder trial ended their first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict on Monday.

Judge Belvin Perry called the jurors into the courtroom at 6 p.m. Monday and dismissed them for the night. The sequestered jury of seven women and five men will head back to their hotel and resume deliberating Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

The jury of seven women and five men is considering whether Anthony is guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. If convicted of that charge, the 25-year-old could get the death penalty or life in prison.

Prosecutors in their rebuttal closing argument earlier Monday said the defense's assertion that Caylee's death was an "accident that snowballed out of control" makes no sense.

Anthony's attorneys say the girl drowned in the family's pool. They have said Anthony panicked and that her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a homicide by placing duct tape over the child's mouth and dumping the body in some nearby woods. George Anthony has denied that.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton told the jurors that no one makes an innocent accident look like a murder.

"People don't make accidents look like murder, that's absurd," said Ashton, repeating a phrase he had previously uttered in the trial. "Nothing has been presented to you to make that any less absurd."

He also spent significant time reminding the jurors about the forensic evidence that he says links Anthony to her daughter's death, including the smell and chemical signature of decomposition in her car.

Ashton spoke for more than an hour before thanking the jury for their "sacrifices."

Defense attorney Jose Baez with his client Casey Anthony on the last day of arguments in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, July 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Red Huber, Pool)Red Huber / POOL Orlando Sentinel

The seven women and five men of the jury were chosen from the Tampa Bay area because of pretrial media coverage of the case and have been sequestered in an Orlando hotel.

All the evidence has been sent back to the jury room, but jurors will be brought into open court if they want to watch any of the video evidence.

The state contends Anthony was a party girl who killed Caylee because the toddler got in the way of her love life.

"What do guilty people do?"
Lead prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick followed Ashton, telling the jurors that prosecutors presented every piece of evidence they promised during opening statements back in May. Without saying it, she was pointing out to them that defense attorneys never presented direct evidence backing up their contentions that the child drowned and the death was made to look like a murder.

She then hammered on the lies Casey Anthony told during the 31 days between when her daughter was last seen on June 16, 2008, and before the police were notified a month later. Those include telling her parents that she couldn't produce Caylee because she was with a nanny named Zanny, a woman who doesn't exist; that she and her daughter were spending time in Jacksonville with a rich boyfriend who doesn't exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic accident and that they were spending time with her.

"Responses to grief are as varied as the day is long, but responses to guilt are oh, so predictable," Drane Burdick said. "What do guilty people do? They lie. They avoid. They run. They mislead, not just to their family, but the police. They divert attention away from themselves and they act like nothing is wrong. That's why you heard about what happened those 31 days."

Anthony sat stone faced during much of the prosecutors' arguments, but occasionally shook her head in disagreement and spoke under her breath.

Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. The child abuse and manslaughter charges each carry a 30-year prison term if she's convicted. She has pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorneys contend that after Caylee drowned, her troubled mother's lies and erratic behavior were brought on by her grief over her dead child and the sexual abuse she suffered as a child from her father. George Anthony denies that allegation, and Judge Belvin Perry said no evidence has been presented to support it.

'Fantasy' evidence
Defense attorney Jose Baez said during his closing argument Sunday that the prosecutors' case was so weak they tried to portray Anthony as "a lying, no-good slut" and that their forensic evidence was based on a "fantasy." He said Caylee's death was "an accident that snowballed out of control."

Baez began his closing argument Sunday with his biggest question: How did Caylee die? Neither prosecutors nor the defense have offered firm proof.

He attacked the prosecution's forensic evidence. He said air analysis of the trunk of Anthony's car, which allegedly showed air molecules consistent with decomposition, could not be duplicated. No one could prove a stain found in the trunk was caused by Caylee's body decomposing there. And witnesses showed maggots found in the trunk came from a bag of trash that was found there, he said.

"They throw enough against the wall and see what sticks. That is what they're doing ... right down to the cause of death," Baez said. He conceded his client had told elaborate lies and invented imaginary friends and even a fake father for Caylee, but he said that doesn't mean she killed her daughter.

Baez also attacked George Anthony as unreliable. He said a suicide note that George Anthony wrote in January 2009 that claimed no knowledge of what happened to Caylee was self-serving and the attempt was a fraud. He said George Anthony claimed he was going to kill himself with a six-pack of beer and some high-blood pressure medicine.