ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter partied, promoted nightclub events and entered a swimsuit contest around the time the toddler disappeared, according to testimony Wednesday, and the woman asked a neighbor to borrow a shovel two days after the little girl was last seen alive.
Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee. Prosecutors said Caylee died from three pieces of duct tape being placed over her mouth and nose while Anthony's attorney has claimed the toddler accidentally drowned in her grandparents' pool.
Caylee was last seen on June 16, 2008. One of the grandparents' neighbors, Brian Burner, testified that Anthony asked him June 18 if she could borrow a shovel to "dig up a bamboo root."
She returned the shovel about an hour later, he said.
Burner also said he remembered seeing Anthony's white car backed into the garage on the afternoon of June 16.
About a month before that, Anthony met Tony Lazaro during a party. They soon became romantically involved and she moved into an apartment he was sharing with four other people.
Her ex-roommates testified that they met Anthony's daughter several times and then at some point in early June, they never saw her again.
When they asked about Caylee, her mother told them she was with her nanny at a theme park or going to the beach.
The four witnesses said Anthony's demeanor never suggested anything was wrong. She would cook, clean and help out around the apartment, they said.
"She was a regular 22-year-old girl," said Cameron Campana, a club promoter who was a college student at the time. "Peppy. She seemed normal."
Another roommate, Nathan Lezniewicz, said Anthony liked going out and having a good time.
"She was not an introvert by any means," he said.
Maria Kissh, a girlfriend of one of the roommates, said she saw Anthony in a "hard body contest" during a nightclub promotion, and that Anthony once told her Caylee's father was dead.
Kissh described riding in Anthony's car along with her roommates, but under questioning by Anthony's attorney, she said neither she nor any of the other passengers smelled any odor.
Prosecutors have said they believe Caylee's decaying body had been stored there, and the girl's grandparents noticed a foul odor when they picked up the car from a towing lot.
In their opening statement, prosecutors said Caylee was last seen by her grandfather on June 16. Anthony waited a month before telling her mother Caylee had disappeared, and that was only after her parents recovered the car, prosecutors said.
The trial began Tuesday with explosive allegations and two very different theories about how the little girl died. For the first time, prosecutors said Caylee died from the duct tape. Anthony's attorney claimed the toddler drowned and the girl's grandfather helped cover up the accident.
Defense attorney Jose Baez also leveled accusations that Anthony was sexually abused by her father. Anthony's father disputed both allegations when he took the stand.
The contrasting explanations about how Caylee died were offered to the jury in part because an autopsy was never able to conclude a cause of death. Prosecutors believe they have enough circumstantial evidence to prove Casey killed her daughter during the summer of 2008.