Mum accused of killing child 'to live carefree'
Dramatic trial hears closing arguments
Published 04/07/2011 | 05:00
PROSECUTION lawyers last night claimed that a woman murdered her two-year-old daughter because the child prevented her from having a relationship with a club promoter.
The case in which Casey Anthony is alleged to have murdered her daughter Caylee has played out on coast-to-coast TV from the time the little girl first was reported missing in the summer of 2008.
Yesterday Ms Anthony (25) wept as lawyers laid out a damning series of claims against her in Orlando's courthouse. She pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder. She could face a possible death sentence or life in prison if convicted of that charge.
She is also charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement.
In his closing argument, prosecutor Jeff Ashton said Ms Anthony wanted a relationship with her boyfriend, to go out with her friends and to live the carefree life she had lived before Caylee's birth.
"Something needed to be sacrificed. That something was either the life she wanted or the life thrust upon her. She chose to sacrifice her child," Mr Ashton said during his 90-minute argument.
The prosecution contends that Caylee was suffocated with duct tape by her mother, who then crafted elaborate lies to mislead everyone, from investigators to her own parents.
Defence lawyers countered that the toddler accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool, and that her seemingly carefree mother in fact was hiding emotional distress caused by alleged sexual abuse from her father, George, who has firmly denied that claim.
But neither prosecutors nor the defence have offered firm proof of how Caylee died.
"It can never be proven," defence lawyer Jose Baez said. That by itself should give the jury reasonable doubt that Ms Anthony killed her daughter, he said.
He said the prosecutors' case was so weak that they tried to portray Anthony as "a lying, no-good slut".
For the prosecution, Mr Ashton said Ms Anthony was concerned that her daughter Caylee was getting to the age where she might have let it slip that her mother was spending her days and nights with her boyfriend, not going to work and leaving Caylee with a nanny.
"Casey is very bright," Mr Ashton said. "Her lies are very detailed . . . But when Casey wants to do what Casey wants to do, she finds a way."
Jurors heard previously that Ms Anthony's DNA was not found with her daughter's skeletal remains when they were discovered in December 2008.
The burden of proof very much rests on the shoulders of the prosecution.
To date they have relied upon a highly circumstantial case, focusing on what they called the lies told by Ms Anthony in the 31 days after Caylee was last seen alive.
They also heavily concentrated on an odour in the boot of Ms Anthony's car, which the prosecution's forensics experts said was consistent with the smell of human decomposition.
However, no physical evidence ever linked Ms Anthony to traces of chloroform found in the boot, and Judge Belvin Perry ruled that the jury would not get to smell air samples taken from that boot.
The sensational trial has been broadcast across the US, and millions of Americans tuned in yesterday to hear the closing arguments.