Caylee Anthony Judge Denies Defense Access to Evidence, Will Reconsider Second Autopsy

Published December 16, 2008

| FoxNews.com

The judge in the disappearance of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony said Tuesday he'd reconsider the defense's wish for a second autopsy at a later time but denied that and other motions about access to evidence.

"All I said last time is that I'd consider the request, but I'm not going to do it today," said Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland at the emergency hearing. "I'm continuing the request for a second autopsy."

He rejected arguments by attorneys for the child's mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony, that they should have unfettered access to evidence collected at the crime scene, including photographs, sketches, video and voice recordings.

Anthony, who has been charged with first-degree murder in her daughter's presumed death, is being held without bond in jail, where she was removed Tuesday from psychological observation. She was placed under observation last week after the remains were discovered. She is in a cell by herself and has no contact with other inmates, according to an Orange County Jail spokesman.

"I can't assist you in interfering with a murder investigation," Strickland said. "They're entitled to continue ... until they get what it is they need to get."

He said having the defense inspect evidence is "not a requirement by law" in explaining why he denied the motions.

During the hearing, an attorney for the sheriff's office said the bones found last week and over the weekend were a little girl's, the first time anyone has mentioned the gender of the child.

"What we will not do is we will not release photographs of the skull of this little girl to then be broadcast all over the news before the body has even been identified, before the parents have been notified,'' said the lawyer, Ann-Marie Delahunty.

Click here for photos.

Orange County Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia — who has her own Discovery Channel TV show — will likely be finished identifying the bones believed to be Caylee's before Christmas.

"Dr. G.," as she is known, has had the child's remains for five days. Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Angelo Nieves estimated it would be another three to 10 before investigators could determine whom they belong to.

Evidence still points to little Caylee.

"Based on the fact that we have no other individuals missing in that area that are a child, none of that is lost on the investigation," Nieves told FOXNews.com Tuesday. "But again, we are not going to make any definitive statements to that effect at this time."

A representative for the missing girl's mother insisted police painted a different picture for the defense team, saying there are several outstanding missing child cases in the Orlando area.

"One of the sheriff's people told him (an on-scene member of the defense) that half a dozen kids are missing," said Todd Black, a spokesman for Anthony's attorney Jose Baez.

The defense is backing Anthony's claim that her then 2-year-old daughter was kidnapped by a baby sitter named Zenaida Gonzalez, whom police say they can't track down and probably doesn't exist.

Meanwhile, investigators continued to scour the wooded crime scene for more pieces of the puzzle.

Teams from the Orange County Sheriff's Office were still methodically combing the area where the skull and bones turned up, according to Nieves. He characterized the process as similar to an archeological excavation, with the site divided into sections.

"It's the same group that's been out there the last couple days, sifting through the grid pattern they have out there," he said. "(They're working) deliberately, slowly, looking at anything they come across that they should recover and making sure everything is properly labeled."

Investigators found a trail of bones over the weekend near the Anthony home and expanded their search zone as the FBI worked to identify a skull discovered in the same spot last week.

The remains have all turned up less than a half-mile from the home the young child shared with her mother and grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony. A lawyer for the couple said the family was preparing for the worst.

"They're devastated," Brad Conway told MyFOXOrlando.com Monday. "They're trying to deal with this the best they can. They're realistic about the probability that it's Caylee, but they pray it's not."

The Anthonys asked for privacy until the medical examiner is able to identify the child.

Conway told the station that investigators searching the Anthonys' home in the wake of the skull discovery "tore it apart." Police would not disclose what, if any, other pieces of evidence were found during their searches.

Caylee was last seen June 16, less than two months before she turned 3. Casey Anthony waited a month to report her daughter missing. She maintains she dropped her little girl off with Gonzalez and another woman in an apartment complex parking lot and saw them drive away together.

Detectives call her story "fiction" and say she has persisted in lying to them about nearly everything having to do with Caylee's disappearance.

Anthony was charged in her daughter's murder on Oct. 14. The discovery of the skull is the first potential major break in the case in months.

Click here for more on this story from MyFOXOrlando.com.

Click here for more on this story from The Orlando Sentinel.

Click here for Casey Anthony's indictment.

Click here for a timeline of the Casey Anthony case.

FOXNews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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