ORLANDO, Fla. – A forensic botanist testified Tuesday that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's remains could have been in the woods for as little as two weeks when they were discovered in December 2008, a much shorter time period than prosecutors allege.
As the murder trial of Caylee's mother Casey entered Day 24, the defense witness told jurors she believed the roots could have grown through the bones, skull and a laundry bag in just two weeks.
Jane Bock said she based her estimate "because of the pattern of leaf litter" she observed on photos of the scene in the woods where the remains were found. But Bock said she couldn't tell just by looking at the photos how long the plants in the area had been there.
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton seized on that uncertainty in his cross-examination and noted that photos Bock relied on to make her assessment weren't taken until February 2009, more than seven weeks after the area was cleared of vegetation. He also showed Bock photos taken at the time of recovery and challenged her with more questions.
"Clearly some of those leaves have been off the trees for longer than two weeks, were they not?" Ashton said.
Bock replied it was possible, but also said they could have been there longer.
Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter. She faces a possible death sentence if convicted and has pleaded not guilty.
Judge Belvin Perry also ruled that defense DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom would not be permitted to testify about decomposition evidence found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car until a hearing was held. The judge said the defense violated his pretrial order that all expert witnesses present detailed reports about what they planned to testify to. Perry agreed with the prosecution's argument that the report he provided was only a summary.
"That should give each side ample opportunity to do what they need to do," Perry said. "And it is a remedy short of exclusion."
The judge, however, did accept Eikelenboom as an expert in general DNA analysis.
The trial resumed after a one-day delay. The defense and prosecution teams were admonished by Perry on Monday for their constant bickering. The judge abruptly recessed court and the jury never entered the courtroom.