The jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial heard dramatic and emotional words from the defendant herself as the second week of testimony in Orlando, Florida, came to a close.
No, Casey Anthony did not take the stand—most legal experts agree her lawyers will never let her be exposed to prosecutor’s questions as it’s just too risky to put a known liar on the stand. What the jury heard was nearly nine hours of audio- and videotape of Casey Anthony displaying all sorts of emotions and revealing all sorts of information that makes her stated defense more difficult.
The stench of familial betrayal drips off these tapes. Recorded during late July and into August of 2008, the content is sometimes jaw-dropping, especially when viewed through the lens of currently known facts and when compared to admissions made by Casey Anthony’s own defense attorneys.
The jury heard a revealing audiotape of an f-word-dropping “Arrogant Casey” who called home the night she was first arrested to chide her mother about “your nice little cameo on TV” that she had just watched on the jail’s television. She then told her mother she didn’t want to talk to her and demanded her boyfriend’s phone number, which had been lost when officers confiscated her cellphone.
The jury got to see several videotaped jailhouse visits with her parents during which “Mysterious Casey” appeared. She hinted at dark forces behind the kidnapping of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, by a nanny named Zanny. Unnamed people had somehow threatened the family’s security, Casey seemed to say, and therefore she could give her parents no solid information while the jail cameras recorded their conversations.
She hinted at dark forces behind the kidnapping of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, by a nanny named Zanny.
Casey is heard promising to write letters of explanation, letters to be delivered by her attorney. Her mother, Cindy, asks later about the letters, indicating they never arrived.
Also on the videos, the jury saw the “Strong Willed and Determined Casey”— a mother focused on one thing: bringing her child back home safely.
“I’m trying to stay so strong for you. Every day it gets harder….” Cindy Anthony tells her jailed daughter as each holds a phone receiver and looks into a camera set up in their separate rooms.
“You have to keep your strength up as much as you can,” Casey tells her distraught mother. “When she comes home, Caylee is going to need us to be strong for her.”
A sobbing Cindy says, “But she can’t see us! Caylee can’t see us! Zanny is not going to hurt Caylee is she?” And Casey—the young woman whose defense attorney now says the child was never technically missing, that she accidentally drowned in the family’s backyard pool on June 16—coolly and causally says, “No. No. In my gut I can feel she’s OK.”
The defendant continually soothes her parents about the nanny’s intentions—a nanny her lawyer now says was one of Casey’s many “imaginary friends.”
The jury also got a glimpse of the “Shrewd Casey.” Holding the oversize receiver with one of her handcuffed hands, wiping away tears with the other, she tells her parents, “It’s so good to see you guys. I just want to keep saying that. If I could just get out of here to help look for Caylee…” and her voice trails off. The tone is reminiscent of a weepy young girl used to being able to get her way.
During a visitation on August 14, a caustic and angry Casey reared her head and jurors were seen taking notes. Cindy was already crying when Casey arrived. She told her daughter that the latest media story was that Caylee had drowned in the pool.
“Surprise, surprise,” Casey said in a deadpanned voice, her eyes in a big upward roll.
When her parents told her they needed something new to go on to continue the search, Casey got visibly upset.
"I'm not in control of any of this," she said. "My entire life has been taken from me. Everything has been taken from me ... I don't have any answers!"
Perhaps most damaging to her defense were the portions of the tape where the soft-spoken George Anthony reaches out to his daughter in that sort of clumsy way men not used to displaying affection often do—and Casey returns the love.
“I just wish I’d been a better father and grandfather,” he says as his voice cracks.
“You’ve been a great dad and the best grandfather!” Casey quickly responds. “You and Mom have always done whatever you could do to be the best parents and grandparents. We are all going to be home again together, I can feel it.”
“I would give my life right now for you and for her. So would your mom. This is destroying your mother,” he says. This, from the man defense attorney Jose Baez branded in opening statements as a sexual predator that had molested Casey from the age of 8.
The videos of the defendant speak volumes. The child has likely been dead for more than a month as Casey acts as a cheerleader to keep up her parent’s spirits. There is no Zanny the nanny, yet Casey continuously refers to her and to many other players in this drama that the defense has now said were figments of their client’s imagination. And the videos show that Casey repeatedly sees her parents' anguish but allows them to take on a staggering number of painful tasks in their six-month search for Caylee.
Grandmother Cindy asks her daughter for guidance about what to tell Zanny during her TV appeals for the child’s return. Cindy dutifully writes it all down as Casey dictates her thoughts. Casey is seen plotting a plan of action with her brother Lee, in a sort of odd code language, designed to flummox the video recording they know will soon be released to the media. Grandpa George, wearing his “Find Caylee” T-shirt, recites a list of search activities and websites that have been established to help locate the missing 2-year-old.
Casey replies, “Great! That’s exactly what needs to be done.” She emphatically says that the only thing that matters to her is getting her daughter home safely.
“We have joined the club of missing children,” George tells Casey during a solo visit to the jail. “[It’s] a club I never wanted to join. And when all this is over we are going to get involved in … finding missing children.” Casey agrees that will be a wonderful thing to do.
These videotapes may very well be the only thing this jury hears from Casey Anthony. While the defense has yet to mount its case—and it may be so compelling in describing her pathology that they win an acquittal for their client—Casey Anthony’s own words seem to have helped the state’s case become ever more convincing.
Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered all manner of celebrity and pop culture stories. Her latest book is Cirque Du Salahi which uncovered the full story behind Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the "White House Gate Crashers". Dimond has written extensively about the John Edwards sex scandal for The Daily Beast and she first broke the news that King of Pop Michael Jackson was under investigation for child molestation. She is author of the book, Be Careful Who You Love—Inside the Michael Jackson Case. She lives in New York with her husband, broadcast journalist Michael Schoen.