ORLANDO, Fla. – A crime scene investigator testified Friday in the Florida murder trial of Casey Anthony that he smelled the odor of human decomposition when he first opened the door to examine her car just days after her initial July 2008 arrest.
The prosecution questioned several sheriff investigators on the ninth day of the trial. They testified about the collection and examination of several items belonging to Anthony and her daughter Caylee following the child's reported disappearance.
Those items included Casey's white Pontiac and toothbrushes, a comb and hair brush that had been used by the 2-year-old. Hair and cheek cell samples that could be tested for DNA were also later taken from her mother.
Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her toddler in the summer of 2008. She has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say the child suffocated after duct tape was placed over her mouth. Caylee's skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area near her grandparents' home in December 2008.
Under cross-examination by the defense, Orange County CSI investigator Gerardo Bloise said that he only smelled an odor consistent with some type of decomposition while he examined Anthony's car. Later, he got more specific when prosecutors asked for his opinion of what type of decomposition it was, based on more than 20 years of experience in the field.
"Professionally speaking, my opinion is that it was the smell of human decomposition," he said.
The testimony and introduction of evidence collected from Anthony's car is a precursor to expert witness testimony regarding the contents of the car's trunk that lead state attorney Linda Drane Burdick said she will begin Saturday. The prosecution contends that Caylee's decomposing remains were at some point inside the trunk of Anthony's car and that her hair was found there.
Earlier in the day, the state introduced three more videos of jailhouse visits Anthony had with her parents, George and Cindy Anthony. In the July 2008 recordings, Casey told her parents her "heart is aching" because she wanted to be home with them and Caylee.
The state showed the series of jailhouse visit videos over the past two days to highlight how, following her initial arrest, Casey continued to perpetuate her original story about a nanny named "Zanny" kidnapping her child. That account changed suddenly at the start of her murder trial when her lawyer for the first time contended the child accidently drowned in the family's pool.
During an Aug. 14, 2008, visit with her parents, Casey told her mother. "Just tell her that we forgive her," when asked what message Casey wanted to covey to the nanny she claimed had taken Caylee.
"All I want is my daughter back," she told her parents during the video. "All we want is our Caylee."
In a tape from July 30, 2008, the Anthonys arrived at the jail wearing special t-shirts featuring Caylee's picture. When her mother asked how she liked the shirts, Casey Anthony asked her father to stand up and model it.
During the visit, Casey Anthony complimented the family on their efforts to find Caylee, telling them to "keep the faith." Anthony claimed the child had been missing for 31 days before police were called in mid-July 2008.
"You are doing a great job, mom," Casey Anthony said during the visit. "I know it's hard. I know better than anyone right now. You are doing so great."
She talked with her parents about believing that Caylee would come home. Once the child returns home, Casey Anthony told her mother, "I'm going to be the crazy, overprotective mom. I won't let her out of my sight."
As they talked about Caylee, Casey Anthony told her mother: "She's not just my little girl. I mean she's my baby, but she will always be your baby and dad's baby and (brother) Lee's baby."
At another point, Casey told her father that the family would "all be back together" with her missing daughter.
While watching the videos on Friday, Anthony could be seen at times with tears in her eyes.