Updated: June 15, 2011 11:05AM
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The prosecution plans to rest its mostly circumstantial murder case Wednesday against a Florida woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter. Next up is the defense which has claimed the toddler was not slain but instead drowned in her grandparents’ pool.
Casey Anthony’s attorneys are expected to call their first witness Thursday, assuming a standard motion it plans to file asking for the judge to throw out the case is denied.
Over several weeks of testimony, prosecutors have laid out their case that Caylee Anthony was suffocated with duct tape, though a medical examiner testified the actual cause of death was undetermined. Only the “manner of death” was ruled to be homicide. If convicted, she faces the death penalty.
Prosecutors have built their case on 25-year-old Casey Anthony’s conduct and the lies she told about her daughter’s whereabouts during the month Caylee was missing.
They also have relied on forensics experts. They’ve talked about smells of human decomposition in Anthony’s car, searches on her computer, including for chloroform several times, and duct tape found on the girl’s skull. Caylee disappeared in summer 2008 and her mother did not report her being gone for a month. The child’s skeletal remains were found about six months later near her grandparents’ home.
Tuesday’s testimony included discussion of more of the physical evidence investigators found.
A forensic expert said that heart-shaped stickers were found in Anthony’s bedroom but didn’t testify whether the items were linked to a similar outline observed on duct tape on Caylee’s remains.
Even so, the stickers shown to jurors over the objection of defense lawyers were powerful images just before the prosecution wrapped up its case. The state’s final witness of the day offered another lasting snapshot.
A tattoo artist testified that Anthony had the words “Bella Vita,” or “beautiful life” in Italian, etched on her back on July 2, 2008. She returned on July 15 and scheduled another appointment for a few days later. Her daughter was last seen in mid-June and reported missing on July 15, 2008, though according to the tattoo artist, Casey Anthony told him she planned to bring her daughter in with her during her next appointment.
“She didn’t seem upset or anything. She was happy for the most part,” Bobby Williams told jurors.
Crime scene investigator Alina Burroughs told jurors the heart-shaped stickers were found in a box and a scrapbook, along with a letter addressed to Caylee Anthony.
Another investigator previously testified she noticed the outline of a heart on one of three pieces of duct tape while examining it under ultra-violet lighting. There were no pictures taken of what she saw, though.
Neither investigator conclusively linked the stickers to the outline. Also, the description of the outline appeared to be a different size than the stickers found in the defendant’s bedroom.
Prosecutors also introduced a sticker found at the crime scene attached to a piece of cardboard near Caylee’s remains.
Jurors asked to get a better look at the sticker and Judge Belvin Perry also gave them the option to hold it. They said they wanted to, and many took notes on it as it was passed around.
FBI quality control manager Catherine Theisen testified that a hair strand found in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car showing signs of human decomposition and was a DNA match to hairs found with Caylee Anthony’s decomposed skull. The trunk hair and skull hair also were DNA matches to skin cell samples taken from Casey Anthony.
But the matches were of mitochondrial and not nuclear DNA, meaning that not all of Casey and Caylee’s maternal relatives or even a small percentage of the general population can be excluded as being possible matches to the material.
Also Tuesday, the defendant’s mother, Cindy Anthony, took the stand for the third time.
She started crying as the prosecutor asked her about a photo of Caylee Anthony in which the child was wearing the shirt found with her remains in December 2008. Cindy Anthony said the first time she ever saw that shirt was when she gave her deposition after the child went missing.
Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro and Harry R. Weber in Miami contributed to this report.