Published December 12, 2008
Should the discovery of skeletal remains near the home of Orlando 3-year-old Caylee Anthony turn out to be that of the missing girl, it could be particularly damning evidence in the accused mother's trial — but Casey Anthony also has a number of defense options, attorneys told FOXNews.com.
If the duct tape-bound remains are proven to be those of Caylee — who has been missing since June — the method used to dispose of the body will become a significant factor in the first-degree murder trial of the girl's mother, Casey Anthony, attorney Scott H. Cupp said.
"That obviously shows a level of deliberation," Cupp said. "One would think something like that would be done prior to the actual event. But you could make a strong argument as a prosecutor that the child's mouth was bound to keep her from making noises."
Cupp, a former prosecutor for the Palm Beach County (Fla.) District Attorney's Office, said photographs of the duct-taped body likely will elicit strong reactions from the jury.
"You could go to town with that, a child with her mouth taped shut," he said. "That kind of stuff you can bring people to tears with."
Cupp said the next crucial pieces of information for both prosecutors and Jose Baez, Casey Anthony's attorney, will come from the Orange County medical examiner's office.
"At the outset, a lot of what's next for both sides will be determined by what the medical examiner finds, and the prosecution is going to be a little bit ahead of the game because they work hand in glove with the medical examiner," Cupp continued.
Attorney Barry Agulnick of New York said prosecutors likely will appeal to the "sympathies and emotions" of the jurors in subtle ways, including introducing morgue photographs, detailed forensic reports and describing the viciousness of the alleged killing.
"All these things can be elaborated upon," Agulnick told FOXNews.com.
Casey Anthony, 22, has been charged with murder, as well as child abuse, aggravated manslaughter and lying to investigators about Caylee's disappearance. Anthony insists she left the girl with a baby sitter in June, but didn't report her missing until July.
A utility worker found the remains of a small child early Thursday in a wooded area less than a half-mile from the house Caylee lived in with her grandparents and mother.
Agulnick said Baez's potential strategies for defending Anthony could include an insanity plea.
"In any case where someone is charged with killing a child, the first thing you explore is some type of psychiatric defense," he said. "No one in their right mind would do something like this, so I'd hire my own experts to examine and explore her mental history and behavior to see if I can mount some type of psychiatric defense. No criminal would commit such a crime in such a fashion unless there was a psychiatric component."
New York-based defense attorney Sanford Rubenstein said he would focus his efforts on analyzing the prosecution's evidence.
"You attack the evidence," Rubenstein told FOXNews.com. "You attack the DNA experts and you scrutinize the manner in which the bones were identified – that would be the avenue of defense in my mind."
Since the burden of proof is on the prosecution, Rubenstein said Baez should focus on putting doubt in the minds of the jurors.
Cupp, meanwhile, said Anthony's attorney could turn his attention elsewhere.
"The defense is going to want to look at other possible suspects," he said. "They have to turn the attention away from their client."
Regardless of how Anthony's first-degree murder defense unfolds, Agulnick said finding jurors for the high-profile case will be difficult.
"You have to be concerned about getting a jury that can be impartial," he told FOXNews.com. "And when the media has fanned the flames, so to speak, you're going to have a tough time finding jurors who aren't in some way knowledgeable of the case. The emotions may just run over in a case like this."
Earlier Thursday, Ninth Circuit Judge Stan Strickland complied with a request by defense lawyer Jose Baez to put off the start date of her trial from Jan. 5 until March. He set another hearing for Jan. 15.
Baez also already asked for a change of venue in the case. He is also seeking a court order for surveillance video from a local mall taken the day of a reported sighting of Caylee.
Anthony faces life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said last week they do not intend to seek the death penalty in the case.