Here is a closing argument of defense counsel in a murder case.
I, too, would like to thank you on behalf of the defense for the sacrifices you have made as citizens of the state of Florida. We know it came at a great sacrifice and both sides saw how much attention you paid to the presentation of evidence in this case. And it hasn’t, hasn’t gone lost on us. We all have recognized that. And I want to thank you both individually and collectively for that great sacrifice that you’ve all made. Thank you. Here we are at the end of our journey and I have to tell you that I probably think you have more questions than you have answers. And if you recall at opening statements the first, the final thing that I told you at the end of the day when everything is said and done the one question will never be answered. The key question in this case will never be answered. It can never be proven. And that is how did Caley die? That’s why we’re all here. Really. There’s no dispute that Caley has passed on. There’s no dispute whatsoever about that. So really the key question as it relates to all manslaughter, child abuse, and murder charges that you’re going to be presented with is how did she die? What happened to her? What is proven beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt? Not just some but every single one. And those questions were never answered. That evidence was never presented to you. In fact there was a great deal of things that you were probably looking for and never received. Now I’d like to explain to you that this is my last opportunity to speak with you individually. After I’m done Mr. Mason will then stand up and cover the jury instructions and the law and then I will have one last opportunity to speak with you but generally this is our moment. This is our opportunity to show you and explain to you what we think the evidence showed in this case. The state after we’re done will then be able to get up and have a, what’s called a rebuttal argument. This is the hardest point for a defense lawyer because I can never come back up and respond. And the reason it’s done that way is because the state has the burden of proof here. So they get that last opportunity. They have the burden of beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard in American jurist prudence. It is the highest standard that must be met so that is why they are afforded that opportunity to have the last word. It wasn’t because we tossed a coin and they won. It’s because it is their burden. And you’ll recall when I told you in the very beginning, when we did the jury selection I had the unique opportunity to speak to each and every one of you individually. I told you it’s not a two-sided affair. The state has the only burden here. And while the defense did put on a case and they’ve put on evidence and testimony it was never required to do so. We could’ve sat back and not questioned, not one single witness and did absolutely nothing throughout the course of this trial. And it still would have been the burden of the state of Florida to prove every element and every charge. And you’ll recall when we talked at jury selection we talked about elements and what they mean. And Mr. Mason is going to come up and give you a little more detail as to that but that’s the same burden. Beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. And it’s done that for obvious reasons. We’re here for a serious matter. You all left your homes to come and resolve a serious question of fact and if you were not given the facts you need your guidance will be the law. The law will guide you as to what your decision and what is a legal and just decision. Judge Perry will tell you that what is important is that you follow the law. We all have laws. We all have lived by these laws for many years and no one has the right when deliberating to base their decision on emotion. Now what I’d like to talk to you about and how I’ve broken down my final remarks to you are I’m going to start with my biggest fear. I’m going to tell you right up front what I fear may happen in this case. And I want to talk to you about it and explain why I feel that way. I want to then outline the state’s case. I want to talk about it piece by piece. My presentation will be a little bit longer than Mr. Ashton’s because I want to actually show you what I think the evidence showed. Now you’re going to have to rely on your recollection of how the evidence was presented. It’s true. What we say is not evidence. But it’s a guide for you to look at the evidence from a certain angle and a certain perspective. There were lots of delays in this trial. There were times we went at sidebar. There were times objections were raised. What you have to look at the evidence by is by what actually was testified to. And sometimes it came out a little odd. Sometimes it didn’t come out with as much cohesiveness. And the presentation wasn’t as fine as both sides would have liked it to have been. I certainly know that was the case with us. But the problem is, is this is the purpose of us coming up here and talking to you. To show you we think this has a connection to this. We want you to pay attention to this fact because of this and came on later on and try and tie it and piece it together for you so you can look back and say, “Yes. I remember that happening, but when it happened I wasn’t so sure what it meant. But now that you explain it I understand what you’re trying to say and what your point is.” So that’s the purpose of what I’m going to do when I talk about the state’s case. And then I want to talk about the defense’s case, the presentation that we put on even though we weren’t required to do anything, even though the law says that the defense has no burden and does not have to prove anything. Then after that, as I mentioned, Mr. Mason will get up and explain what the charges are and explain what must be proven and also explain the judge’s instructions to you and how they apply to the defense’s case, how they apply to the state’s case, to try and give you an understanding. We realize while you’re all very educated people you’re not skilled in the area of the law. So this is something that we want to use to assist you in that regard. And then finally I will have my last remarks that I think are something that are points that I think you should also consider before we sit down. And as I mentioned that is going to be the toughest time when Mr. Burdick pulls up. But you have to understand the reason why. Not let me start with my biggest fear and that is that this case deals with so much emotion. I know that there were times where every single person in here felt something deep down inside. The law gives us a guidance as to what we should do when it comes to emotion and that is your rules of deliberation, what the law is, is that this case must not be decided for or against anyone because you feel sorry for anyone or are angry at anyone. And that’s because, obviously, we want you to base your verdict on the evidence, not on emotion. And while there were times where emotion was directly pointed at you or things were done to draw into your emotion, to get you angry at something, to get you to discriminate against someone because they didn’t act the way they should have acted. They didn’t conform with what we think is right or normal. They’re different. And that is not what the law is. The law says you must base your verdict on the evidence not on emotion. And it’s my biggest fear because it’s such a difficult thing for you to push aside. Caylee Anthony was a beautiful, sweet, innocent child who died far too soon. There’s no doubt about it and that is not disputed by anyone. But to parade her up here to invoke your emotion would be improper. It’s improper under the law and it’s improper as to the rules of your deliberation. And I submit to you that that is the strategy and the way the state presented this case. They started with, well let me just start with Mr. Ashton’s remarks to you today because of they’re the most recent on your mind. Mr. Ashton started out showing you a video of little Caylee, started talking to you about parenting, started talking to you about what a mother should and should not do. He went on for a great length of time talking about this beautiful child. Not on his evidence, not on the evidence that was presented before you. It was to set up the emotion for what was to come. And that is exactly how this case was presented. They didn’t come right out the gate and show you the evidence. They gave you two weeks of testimony that was completely irrelevant and served only one purpose and that was to paint Casey Anthony as a slut, as a party girl, as a girl who lies, and has absolutely nothing to do with how Caylee died. And you will dishonor the law and even Caylee’s memory if you were to base your decision on anything but the evidence. And to use emotion to get you angry is improper. And here’s the proof and Judge Perry will read that to you. It is rule number three but I ask that you make this rule number one. The state came out and paraded all of these people but what was unique is throughout that process everyone kept coming back with the same thing. Casey was a good mother. Caylee loved Casey. And what was funny is I wanted you all to see something and you may have wondered why I asked certain questions. I asked many of the questions as to how did Caylee react to Casey because I thought it was important that you understand that of course cannot fake this. A child cannot fake love. A child knows when it loves someone, it behaves a certain way. And I brought those questions out and I asked them from both angles. How did Casey treat Caylee and vice versa? And what this did was it wasn’t to appeal to your emotion. It was specifically directed at the child abuse charges. We were here for a couple of months, six weeks as Mr. Ashton pointed out. But you didn’t hear one single instance having anything with to do with child abuse. Not one. And this prosecution was geared in such a manner that it was deliberate. It was methodical. It was thorough and it was detailed. You saw during those 30 days every movement of where Casey went and every single thing she did and if there was one instance of child abuse you would have heard it. You would have seen it. You would have been able to, it would have become clear. So when you look at these child abuse charges ask yourself when did someone get on this stand and tell me or demonstrate in any way that Caylee was abused. Child abuse cases are sad and they’re one of the most horrible crimes imaginable, but one thing is for certain. If there’s an abused child people know it. People see bruises. People see different things about that child. They will see, there will be broken bones at times. There will be different instances. But there was nothing other than the fact that this child was loved and well taken care of and from one moment to the next something happened. Something changed. Something changed that will forever change the life of Casey Anthony and something forever changed that ended the life of Caylee Anthony. It was sudden and immediate. Not deliberate. Not repeated. Not premeditated, but something from one moment to the next. You have to rely on the evidence, looking for it. What was heard? What was put before you? I agree with one statement that Mr. Ashton said is you can’t speculate. Don’t speculate. Don’t guess. It has to be proven to you beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. If you don’t know what happened it wasn’t proven. We don’t want you to tell us what you think happened. We want you to tell us what was proven happened. And that’s the difference here. Because you know what? We can go on and speculate all day long as to the different theories that were posed before you, as to the different possibilities. But the truth of the matter is, is it must be what was proven. There are no mysteries to solve here. There should be no mystery before you right now. If you have questions then it was not proven. And that’s as simple as it goes. It’s as simple as it gets because that is exactly what is done. Now you have seen this checkbook prosecution where they spared no expense, utilized the finest crime labs in the country, the FBI laboratory. But yet with all of the resources and used not only established areas of forensic science but created new ones, ones that were never testified before in front of a jury. You are the first jury to ever here some of the evidence in this case, this type of evidence, air evidence, the very first. You’re the first ones in the state of Florida ever hear hair banding evidence. You’re the first ones in the state of Florida to ever hear a trainer testify about his dog. You’re the first one to ever hear any of these types of evidence. And that’s what I told you from the very beginning, that this prosecution would raise the level of desperation to make up for their lack of evidence. Now back to what I was saying with their initial set up, the way the case was presented, the first couple of weeks. You see the strategy behind that is, is if you hate her, if you think she’s a lying no good slut then you’ll start to look at this evidence in a different light. You’ll start to, “Oh wait a minute. Maybe I’m seeing something that’s not there.” And start to actually discriminate against her rather than give her the standard that is afforded to each and every citizen in our country. And that is that the state, the government come in here and prove their case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. But you can get away with that if we can get a jury to hate her. We can get away with that if we paint her in a certain light that has nothing to do with the evidence and more to do with who she is. I told you at the very beginning of this case that this was an accident that snowballed out of control. And while it was a very common accident what made it unique, what made it different is not what happened but who it happened to. And you all sat here and saw some bizarre things throughout the course of this trial. Bizarre things that have been going on long before Caylee was ever born and throughout her early life. You saw all of these things. This is not stuff that is new. There’s something wrong here, something not right. And that’s what makes this post-death behavior relevant. It explains it. But at the end of the day it is irrelevant to the number one question that you all came here to answer. How did she die? And I will jump and piggyback off of what Mr. Ashton said and ask you not to speculate as to that fact. Now I want to start with the car, okay? And what’s unique about the car is again what I told you at the very beginning. The car does not shed any light on how Caylee died. Period. And I told you all it would double the length of this trial, if not triple, and I think you I showed you that that ended up being true. All of it, all of the discussion that came around with being irrelevant evidence ended up being posed as to the car. Now, and I say that for this, because what the car does is it tells you how Caylee may or may not have been transported. It doesn’t explain how she died in any way, shape, or form. Now you may be asking, “Well why did you spend so much time fighting?” Well we weren’t allowed, about to allow the state to put a square peg through a round hole. And that’s that. Because there are just as many questions as there are answers relating to the car. Who had possession of it all the time? Did George Anthony have access to it? And there was testimony that came out. And was there in fact actually a body in the back of the car? But at the end of the day we come back to does it tell us how she died? No. We all know Casey acted inappropriately and made some mistakes and bad decisions. She should have called the police. She should have not attempted to block this out. She should have reported her death. There’s no doubt about that and that question was never contested. That issue was never debated. But if there are crimes associated with those acts the state of Florida has the ability to charge her with whatever crimes they feel those acts warrant. They don’t have the right to overcharge or inflate a case to make it something that it’s not just because it’s entertainment, just because everybody wants to know, just because there’s some mystery. You heard tons and tons of evidence of how this case, the media, and the way it all came about, how it influenced people’s actions, decisions, for both sides. But we can’t lose focus of what it actually, what actually occurred and that’s, and the answers that you’re supposed to answer here for us during your deliberations. I want to start off with the issue of the car. Now you’ll recall I used these words during my opening statement when I explained certain things and I think going back to them will kind of help you with the timeline of things. You’ll recall that on the 27th, actually you’ll recall that Caylee was last seen on June 16th according to George Anthony, the testimony of George Anthony. Now I will remind you that the indictment reads from June 15th, not June 16th. And that is very important for you to consider. And that raises the question is does even the state of Florida believe that she was last seen…
The indictment itself is not evidence. It is charged in a way that says between those dates.
Sustained. Let’s move on.
Look at the indictment, look at all of the instructions. You’ll recall Tony Lazzaro testified that, and he was the young man that was dating Casey, and you’ll recall that on the 20th of June Casey ran out of gas and Tony went to the apartment to pick, Tony went to help her get gas. They went to the Anthony home and in the back of the, in the back yard there is the shed where they got the gas cans from. You’ll recall his testimony and his testimony was clear that when they went to pour the gas Casey did not try to block him away. Casey did not say, “Hey don’t get near my trunk.” In fact they poured the gas in the car, they opened the trunk, and they put, and she put the gas cans in the trunk of the car. She could have easily put them in the front seat. She could have done whatever she wanted. She could have told him, “Go away. I’ve got this.” She could have never have gotten assistance from Tony Lazzaro at all. If she had a body, as suggested by the state, in the trunk of the car or if the smell had been there this young man would have smelled it. Remember he put up with his hand and he went like that and he said, “It’s right here.” You’ve seen pictures of the car. The gas gauge, the place where you put gas in the gas tank, excuse me, is right next to the back of the car. Why didn’t he smell it? What happened there? Well there’s a reason for that and that’s because the car didn’t smell it at that time. That’s the only logical conclusion. You’ll also remember a young lady by the name of Maria Cush. She was a very attractive girl with glasses, one of Tony Lazzaro’s roommates girlfriend. You may not have noticed the bombshell that hit when Mr. George asked her about ever getting in that car. He got an answer he didn’t expect and that was, “Yeah I was in Casey’s car.” And was it during the time that she was living with Tony? And she answered, “Yes.” Remember they all went to McDonald’s, all four of them got in that car and Maria and her boyfriend sat in the backseat and they didn’t smell anything. But yet three years later it still smells and all of these people are smelling the smell. Why wouldn’t it smell that bad when it was most recent? Why is it not smelling to these people? Well we’re going to get into who smelled what but take that into consideration when you look at this. Then recall the incident with the gas cans. That was reported missing to the police on June 24th. I labored over these gas cans throughout this trial because I think the issue is obvious. Who in the world reports gas cans missing? Who, not even in the state of Florida, how many times in the United States has someone called the police and said, “Someone stole my gas cans.” And why is that duct tape on there? And why are there so many lies surrounding that gas can and that duct tape. It’s not a coincidence. If so it would be an incredible coincidence. You couldn’t have odds worse than the lottery. That’s how bad it is. Then the car is towed on the 30th. You’ll recall Mr. Simon Birch testifying that after four days they sent out their notice. So what happens the entire week? Why did Mr. Anthony wait until the 15th to pick up the car? Why? Remember this fact. Mr. Birch said when George Anthony went to pick up the car he showed up with a gas can. He knew the car was out of gas. And importantly, the more important fact that you should remember is not only did he know it was out of gas, he knew that the car had been at the Amscot for three days. Remember that? He said, “Mr. Anthony told me that it had been there for three days.” And I asked him, would you have known it was there for three days?” No. As tow people we just go pick up the tow yard. We would have no idea how long a car has been at a certain place. But he told us it was there for three days.” Well even though Mr. Anthony heard that testimony he got up here on the stand and he said, “I called when I got to work. I found out that it was there three days when I got to work.” And I asked him, “Did you call Mr. Burch to see if, to let him know that it had been there for three days?” He said, “No.” So how in the world did Mr. Birch know that the car was at the Amscot for three days? He knew because George Anthony told him. George Anthony knew that that car was at the Amscot. He knew that that car was out of gas and he showed up to pick up the car with his key. And when he got there you’ll all remember he smelled the smell of death. He smelled the smell that you never forget and of course he did what every responsible parent would do and that is nothing. Just go home and go to work. Nothing. Don’t call to find out if my daughter is alive who I have not seen since the 24th of June. I don’t call to find out if my granddaughter’s alive since I haven’t seen her since the 16th. He didn’t do any of those things. And that’s because he wanted to distance himself from this situation. And he knew. There’s evidence of that. That was all presented to you. He knew something, he knew she was dead. This evidence doesn’t make sense. And if the state of Florida had done as much work trying to track the comings and goings of George Anthony as they did Casey we probably would have seen more. We’d probably have more answers. But you don’t. Now July 15th comes around and as Mr. Ashton points out all hell breaks loose. Now we take a look at who actually smelled what in the car. We have CSI Boise who testified depending on who was asking the question you may recall if Mr. Burdick was asking him, “Oh it was human decomposition.” When I was questioning him, “Oh it was decomposition.” So he went back and forth, you may recall that time. You have Deputy Forge and his dog who was advised that this is the suspect’s vehicle and you may recall we did this small thing where I had each and every person who witnessed this dog inspection. And they all said there was only one car. But yet that Deputy Forge lied to you and he told you there were two cars. If you believe him you have to believe that Lori Malich, Michael Vincent, and Gerard Blousey were lying to you. Michael Vincent, the other CSI person who says he smelled a dead body. Mr. Arpad Vass, now we’ll get into him a little later. Cindy Anthony, who said that during her 911 call but yet said so because this was her third call and she wanted the police to get there quicker. Simon Birch who runs the police tow lot, tow yard. Now you may recall that Mr. Birch didn’t make his statement until nine days later, after it was broadcasted all over the news and in fact referenced news reports during his statements to the police. You have George Anthony who did an incredible of job of pointing to Yuri Melich the first night upon arriving, as soon as he arrived. And of course you have Dr. Neal Haskell, the $40,000 man, the entomologist, who explained several theories. Now let’s take a look at who didn’t smell what. Karen Sanchez, the manager at the Amscot tow yard, the Amscot check cashing place where the car was. You may recall she said she smelled garbage. Tony Lazzaro who went and got Casey, got the gas cans for Casey, and was actually right near the trunk on the 20th. Charity Beasley, the police officer who picked up the car and took it to the tow yard. Maria Cush, the girl I spoke about earlier who sat in the back seat with her boyfriend Fred Haus. He didn’t smell it either. Sergeant Hosey, now he said he smelled something. He’s a sergeant. There’s a missing child. He’s at the home. He’s hearing lies. But yet he didn’t think it was sufficient to call the crime scene investigators. Why? Because the trash seemed like a plausible alternative. It was understandable if trash is in the trunk of a car for three weeks that that is probably the source of the odor. Deputy Ryan Eberlan, this was the young man who handcuffed Casey. He said he didn’t smell a thing. Yuri Melich, the lead detective, who again like Hosey was advised by George Anthony and still did nothing. His name is escaping me, Fletcher, a friend in Fletcher. A corporeal who said he did not smell anything and came in and out of that garage and that the trunk was open. Adriana Acevedo, another police officer who was there and said she did not smell anything. Now I know you heard a lot of evidence about the smell of this car. And if you look at once Casey is arrested how many people you have to eliminate, who didn’t do anything. Cindy’s explanation of the reason why she said that leaves one person and even if you look at all of these people and give them the credibility that they deserve you still have an abundant of people who did not smell something. This is a reasonable doubt. When you have this many people, this many people who are telling you a certain thing you have to have some doubt. This is not one individual like her boyfriend who’s trying to protect her. These are a significant amount of people from various backgrounds who have no interest in helping Casey Anthony. And that’s why you need to consider this and that’s why you may have a reasonable doubt as to who smelled what. Now the state of Florida talked to you and presented to you a neighbor by the name of Brian Burner. You may recall this is the individual, he was a heavyset guy who came up here and he testified about Casey borrowing a shovel. Now if you think about Mr. Burner’s testimony you may recall that the police told him to close his eyes and try and remember the day that this all occurred. You’ll recall that Mr. Burner didn’t see what was done with the shovel. You’ll recall that the shovel was borrowed for 45 minutes and you’ll also recall that Casey came back and she wasn’t sweaty. And what the state wants you to believe is that Casey Anthony in broad daylight was going to go borrow a neighbor’s shovel, even though you all saw that they have four or five of them in their shed, and bury her child in the backyard. Is that reasonable? Is that, how does that even pass muster at all? Now I think that may be my colleagues response was, well look at all of her actions. They’re not rational. Okay? And I would agree with that. And Mr. Ashton said something very interesting, “Bury her like they she buried their pets.” Okay? Well I’ll get back to that in a minute but I’d like you to remember that but okay let’s speculate now. That’s what they’re doing. They’re saying, come let’s go speculate as to what happened with this shovel. You can easily speculate that Casey took that shovel and tried to open up the shed lock to get the gas cans. You can easily speculate that she was doing whatever with that shovel. But that shovel was tested. That shovel was inspected by the FBI and we brought you the evidence forward, not the state of Florida. We had the people from the FBI who inspected the shovel and there was absolutely no evidence, no DNA, no hairs, no soils that matched the actual scene. There’s no evidence of that. So let’s just speculate shall we? That’s not proper. That’s not the law. And that’s not your job. But yet that’s what they want you to do. That’s what they’re asking you to do. Now you saw tons of testimony about the trash in the garbage. Now I can’t count how many times I brought this up to you and showed it to you and said take a look at this. And I brought it to you because I think what’s important here for you to remember is that this evidence was changed. This evidence was altered. Whatever evidence could be used to exculpate Casey was destroyed, put intentionally into a dry room. You don’t know what food is in there. All you know is they want to dry it out. They want to and you passed a Velveeta cheese with finger print dust on it. Remember that? That black powder? Fingerprint dust. They want you to know who cut the cheese. But they don’t want any other evidence to come out as to what was actually in the trash of that car. And Mr. Ashton can do his little show all he wants and show them the garbage and say where’s the spit in here. Well we can see there was spit there. Was this, could this create any smell? Well of course you can’t find anything because it was altered. It was destroyed and that’s not what a police officer is to do. That’s not what crime scene investigator Vincent and Blousey should be doing. They should be preserving evidence, photographing evidence, documenting evidence so that you can make an intelligent and just decision. So that you can have the evidence you need to carry out and answer any question as to what happened.