Published October 28, 2008
The mother of a Florida toddler missing and presumed dead pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and other charges for allegedly killing her child, Caylee Anthony.
Casey Anthony, 22, didn't attend her 8:45 a.m. ET arraignment hearing in Orange County, Fla., but a written not guilty plea was entered beforehand. She remains jailed without bond.
Her trial is scheduled to start Jan. 5; a pretrial conference will be held Dec. 11, according to the judge in the case, Stan Strickland.
In addition to first-degree murder, Anthony is charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated child abuse and four counts of lying to investigators.
Forensic test results released Friday show that hair found in Anthony's car trunk came from a decomposing body.
Police had already determined that the strands found in Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire belonged to her daughter, Caylee, and said DNA evidence suggested a corpse had been inside the vehicle.
The results of tests, some done at a so-called "body farm" at the University of Tennessee and released Friday by the state, confirm those theories.
Head hair from the trunk is "microscopically similar" to that from a brush used on the little girl, the forensic report says.
Strickland ordered prosecutors earlier this month to hand over documents outlining the evidence collected from the Pontiac's trunk. In addition to the hair, that included air samples and traces of chloroform.
Caylee was 2 when she disappeared in mid-June, two months before her third birthday. Her mother was charged with her murder after a grand jury issued a homicide indictment against her.
Also last week, prosecutors dropped the child neglect charges against Anthony, saying they were filed on the premise that little Caylee was still alive.
The toddler has never been found. Caylee's family didn't report her missing for a month.
If convicted at her trial, Anthony could be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty.
She has continued to say she doesn't know where Caylee is and had nothing to do with her disappearance. She told detectives she left her daughter with a baby sitter in June and returned from work to find the two gone.
But investigators say Anthony has lied to them repeatedly and led them on one wild-goose chase after another. The apartment where she said she dropped her daughter off had been vacant for months, and the woman she named as the sitter had never met her or Caylee, according to police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.