As jury selection for Casey Anthony hits a second week, experts try to reconcile the multiple personas of the woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.
There is no Miss Manners guidebook on how one is expected to behave at one’s own murder trial. But after watching Casey Marie Anthony’s behavior during jury selection at her capital-murder case over the past week and a half, observers are left wondering how many different ways someone can behave.
Every day a different Casey Anthony walks in the door.
The first day she appeared especially engaged and intense as she and her lawyers hunched around the defense table and quietly conferred. Anthony asked questions, locked eyes with her advisors, and nodded nervously at everything they said.
Once their chairs were shifted so prospective jurors could look directly at her from their seats in the gallery Casey Anthony seemed to take on an entirely different persona. She sat still and stiller and never looked up from some mystery focal spot on the table in front of her. She began to clutch a tissue and wipe her eyes and nose even before the indictment against her was read aloud. A completely different persona seemed to have emerged.
Anthony was obviously nervous at being so completely exposed to the group that would ultimately decide whether she would live or die. Her team of lawyers tried to gently cajole her into becoming engaged in the process. They counseled her to sit up, look up, and collect herself.
Over an open microphone a defense attorney told Anthony to “stop acting like a 2-year-old.”
Over an open microphone defense attorney Jose Baez, at one point, told Anthony she should “stop acting like a 2-year-old.” She was heard replying in a near sneer, “Really?” and she swatted at him with a quick gesture. Baez spat back, “Really” as he turned the page of his yellow legal pad in the most decisive way. Persona No. 3 had emerged as Casey Anthony went from sniveling to combative in a blink of an eye. (Because of this episode, the Judge ordered all the attorney’s microphones to be disconnected and closed off gallery benches directly behind the defense table.)
Casey Anthony looks frail and much smaller than you would expect a notorious murder suspect to appear. Her short brunette bob has now grown long and her pony-tail falls almost to her waist. She slicks back her hair in the most severe way until her tiny ears look almost stretched by the elastic band on the top of her head. She is always dressed plainly, mostly in loose fitting light pastel colored blouses and Wal-Mart styled slacks, anklets and flat ballet style slippers.
On day two, Anthony appeared zombie-like. Her bangs hung loosely around her slack face and shadowed her eyes. Her long sleeved peach colored blouse seemed to hang on her as she slowly walked into the courtroom for the morning session. She looked at no one as she took the seat at the defense table furthest away from Baez and refused to speak to him. During bathroom breaks she moved as though her shoes were made of concrete. Late in the day, after sitting rigid for so long she complained about her right arm and hand and was whisked away by guards. Persona number four stunned those who noticed.
In subsequent days Anthony has appeared childlike, pulling the sleeves of her non-descript sweaters down into her palms and clutching the fist-fulls to her face as she rocks back and forth. When another of her attorneys, Ann Finnell, moves to the podium to ask prospective jurors about their views of the death penalty she hides herself behind the empty high-backed chair and peeks at those being questioned. At other times Casey Anthony seems almost carefree, laughing and playfully punching at the arm of veteran defense attorney Cheney Mason.
Who is this 25-year-old woman, really? We got hints last week when questions to the panelists about possible punishment included, “Can you take into account someone who has endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse?” “How about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder … (or) brain development?”
It left many to wonder if the defense team’s psychologist will identify a diagnosable mental condition.
Fascinated by the many personalities Casey Anthony has displayed in court, psychotherapist Dr. Lisa Palmer, Program and Clinical Director of The Renew Center of Florida in Boca Raton has followed the action. Among her specialties is helping patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
“D.I.D. used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder,” Palmer tells me. “And it is often misdiagnosed” because even the patient is unaware of what is happening.
As court wound up on day eight of jury selection Tuesday Casey Anthony displayed yet another personality that bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said he calls "the cruise director." The courtroom camera caught her fussing around the defense table studiously re-filing papers for attorney Finnell and cleaning up wadded paper and tissues as if she were part of the legal team and not a criminal defendant. When Finnell returned to her seat Anthony patted the file and looked up, doe-eyed, for approval.
Padilla had insinuated himself into the six-month search for Caylee's body early on and spent several days inside the Anthony home with Casey. He tells the Daily Beast she had focused entirely on hospitality back then and not on finding her daughter.
"(She) worried about feeding my nephew a nice dinner of salmon patties, applesauce and mac and cheese. Her next concern was making brownies for me and the security outside her home. Subsequently, for the full nine days we were there she never mentioned looking for Caylee and never shed a tear the whole time."
Dr. Palmer says D.I.D. always begins with a specific trauma and if it occurs at age 7 or under the victim can create a coping mechanism which results in “alternative” personalities being created.
A patient might have two alters or 200, according to Palmer, and “usually has one alter is very young because they were the first to be ‘born’ when the abuse happened.” They could have an angry alter that comes out to express the anger they, themselves, can’t. They might have a sad alter or one that appears only to express sexual desire.
After recalling seeing the photographs of Casey Anthony out partying during the time when prosecutors believe she had already killed her 2 year old daughter, Caylee, Dr. Palmer says, “You, know, when she was out dancing her defense can say – look, she’s acting like nothing’s happened, see she has no normal response. It’s an alter personality.” In other words, perhaps there never was a nanny named Zanny. Just Casey Anthony herself.
Diane Dimond is covering the Casey Anthony trial from Clearwater, Florida. Follow her tweets:
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 so-called "White House Gate Crashers". Dimond has written extensively about the John Edwards sex scandal for the DailyBeast 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.