Mother of Casey Anthony Testifies About 'Strong' Odor in Daughter's Car

Caylee Anthony

Caylee Anthony  (AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The mother of a Florida woman charged with killing her toddler choked back tears Tuesday as she described retrieving her granddaughter's favorite doll from a car that prosecutors believe may have held the little girl's body at some point.

Cindy Anthony testified that the vehicle had a terrible odor after it was retrieved in mid-July 2008 from a towing lot by her husband, George. The Pontiac had been driven by their daughter, Casey Anthony, but the Anthonys hadn't seen Casey Anthony, nor their granddaughter, 2-year-old Caylee, for several weeks.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder and could be sentenced to death if convicted. Defense attorneys say Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family's swimming pool.

In a 911 call, Cindy Anthony described the odor in the car as that of a dead body. But she said Tuesday that it was merely an expression she used and at that moment she didn't think a body had been in the car.

"I said `Oh my gosh. What is wrong with the car?" Cindy Anthony said from the witness stand. "The smell in the car was pretty strong."

Cindy Anthony said she opened the car's windows and trunk in order to air it out, and George took the battery out of the car because they feared Casey Anthony would return home and try to take the vehicle.

Cindy Anthony choked back tears as she described removing Caylee's favorite doll from the car and spraying it with Febreeze to remove the odor. She also removed Caylee's backpack and Casey Anthony's purse.

At the time the car was retrieved from the towing lot, Casey Anthony had refused to come home for several weeks, Cindy Anthony told jurors. Casey Anthony had told her mother in a phone call that she needed space, and that's why she was staying away.

Casey Anthony waited a month before reporting the girl missing.

Prosecutors contend the odor in the car came from human decomposition, but defense attorneys claim it was from rotting garbage.