Published July 30, 2008
A judge denied a request by the mother of a missing Florida toddler Tuesday to stop the release of any more phone conversations she has made from jail, videotaped meetings with family members and other recordings related to the case.
Ninth Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland turned down a motion filed by defense attorney Jose Baez, who is representing 22-year-old Casey Marie Anthony in the disappearance of her daughter Caylee.
Baez argued at Tuesday's hearing that releasing the tapes was painting his client in a negative light and compromising the search for the 2-year-old.
"It’s our position that, for example, if this child has been kidnapped and my client gives that information to her family, it should not be released to the media," Baez told Strickland. "That’s our primary argument. We feel the search needs to be protected. All of the information has negatively impacted my client and possibly her rights to a fair trial."
Prosecutor Eric Dunlap contended that barring the release of the recordings — which are part of the public record — would compromise this case and future criminal investigations.
The hearing opened with testimony from Casey Anthony's father George Anthony, who is the maternal grandfather of the missing tot.
He complained that the media coverage was unfavorable to his entire family and especially to his daughter. As George Anthony stepped down from the witness stand, he mouthed, "I love you" to Casey.
Casey Anthony has been behind bars since she and her parents reported her toddler daughter Caylee Marie Anthony missing July 15. Police have named her a person of interest in the child's disappearance.
She smiled and waved at her parents as she left court in shackles, handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit.
Baez filed the "motion for protective order" with the Ninth Circuit Court in Orlando late Monday night to prevent the release of any more audio or video recordings involving his client. The hearing was under way as of 1:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
The filing comes as another recorded phone call was made public Monday night, this one between Casey Anthony and her brother, Lee Anthony.
"It's not a good situation, but what can we do?" Lee Anthony told his sister in the July 26 call. "Everything's public record, including this phone call, including the visitation videos."
"Oh, I know it is," Casey Anthony replied.
"There's obviously things that I would have asked in a different way," her brother said. "I don't want you to feel for any reason that we're not on your side about anything. We are on your side about everything. We're completely behind you. All our days are consumed with, 'What can we do to find Caylee?' ... Do you have anything that you can tell me that would help?"
"There's nothing I can think of at the moment," Casey said. "I'm going to get a couple of things together today so I can write a couple of letters to the family ... There isn't anything that should probably be said here."
"Remember the truth don't hurt," Lee Anthony told her.
"I gave them [investigators] the same resources that I gave you and you found out 100 more things than they did and they were given the same information," Casey replied.
Later in the phone call, Lee Anthony asked Casey if she thought her daughter was OK.
"My gut feeling? ... In my gut, she's still OK, and it still feels like she's close to home," Casey said. "That's still my best feeling at this point. If that changes, I'm going to reach out immediately."
She told her brother that she talked to Caylee once, the day police were notified that the toddler was missing.
Meanwhile, the FBI is considering taking over the case, which is currently being handled by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, MyFOX Orlando has learned.
On Monday, Florida investigators were considering releasing a videotape of a jailhouse meeting between Casey and her mother Cindy Anthony, Caylee's maternal grandmother.
"We expect that the information might be available but it’s still under discussion," Capt. Angelo Nieves of the Orange County sheriff's office told FOX News, noting that the video is public record.
Nieves said the police are looking over the tapes to see whether they hold any clues to where the missing toddler may be.
"We have a family that is extremely distraught here, and parents and a brother that are also trying to get to the bottom of the missing child," Nieves told FOX News. "Where is Caylee Anthony? That’s what they’re trying to discover as well as us."
Cindy and Lee Anthony visited Casey on Monday after saying over the weekend that she is innocent.
"My daughter, her No. 1 priority has always been Caylee’s safety and that’s why I know when … Casey states that someone has taken Caylee that that is the truth," Cindy Anthony told FOX News on Monday. "Casey would do anything to protect her child."
Cindy Anthony said Casey would be willing to talk to the FBI, since she doesn't trust local authorities.
"We are prepared to provide, at their request, any assistance with any investigative leads in other jurisdictions, any forensic assistance and any other requests that would be instrumental in Caylee's recovery," FBI spokesman Dave Couvertier told MyFOXOrlando.com.
Cindy Anthony said her daughter would be willing to work with authorities in drawing a composite sketch of a babysitter who Casey Anthony claims she'd left the child with when she disappeared. Caylee was not reported missing for more than a month.
Lee Anthony mentioned two other people who supposedly know the babysitter, Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, but he acknowledged that he had never met Gonzalez, MyFOXOrlando.com reported.
"I'm going to speak for myself first ... if I can do that. The reason why I never met this babysitter before is because I don't live at this residence. Whenever I come over, typically Caylee is here with mother or sister or that," Lee Anthony said.
Investigators told FOX News on Monday that they'd been in contact with several Zenaida Gonzalezes, but none were the babysitter.
"Zenaida Gonzalez is quite a common name," Dep. Carlos Padilla told FOX News on Monday, adding, "We’ve spoken to a Zenaida Gonzalez; we haven’t been able to speak with the Zenaida Gonzalez."
Casey Anthony is charged with child neglect, making false official statements and obstructing a criminal investigation. She's being held on $500,000 bond and has been named a person of interest in what Florida prosecutors say is beginning to look like a homicide investigation.