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Published: Thursday, 5/26/2011

Prosecutors depict Fla. mom accused of killing her toddler as carefree in days before arrest

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Casey Anthony appears in court during her trial. Anthony is charged with murder in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee. Casey Anthony appears in court during her trial. Anthony is charged with murder in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee.
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ORLANDO, Fla. — A lengthy list of friends and ex-boyfriends on Thursday depicted a woman on trial in the killing of her 2-year-old daughter as someone living a carefree, leisurely life around the time her child is believed to have been missing, including just a day before her arrest.

Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in Caylee’s death in the summer of 2008 and has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could be sentenced to death.

Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008. Prosecutors said the toddler died from three pieces of duct tape being placed over her mouth and nose, while the attorney for Anthony has claimed the toddler accidentally drowned in her grandparents’ pool.

Perhaps the most explosive dialogue on the third day of the trial was outside the presence of the jury when defense attorney Jose Baez and Judge Belvin Perry questioned one of Anthony’s exes, Tony Lazzaro. He told them about a conversation he had with Casey in late June or early July 2008 in which he said she told him her brother attempted to sexually abuse her.

In Baez’s opening statement, he told jurors that the reason Casey didn’t act panicked around the time Caylee was believed to be missing was because she was so emotionally scarred after being molested as a child by her father, George Anthony, and attempted abuse by her brother, Lee.

“...It was definitely in the past...Not anything in the present,” Lazzaro told the judge.

George Anthony in earlier testimony denied the abuse allegations. Her brother has yet to testify but is on the witness list for prosecutors.

Perry didn’t rule immediately on whether Baez would get to question Lazzaro in front of the jury at some point on the information he offered. But Lazzaro was asked by the judge to remain available for further testimony.

Earlier in the day, former boyfriend Ricardo Morales testified that Anthony was cheery when she picked him and his friends up from the airport on July 15, 2008.

“She was the same as she always was,” Morales said of Casey’s demeanor the day before her initial arrest. “Happy. Smiling. Just as usual. Same Casey.”

Morales dated Anthony from February to April 2008. He also testified Anthony and Caylee regularly stayed nights over his apartment during that same time period.

His testimony came a day after Lazzaro, whom Anthony began dating in May 2008, testified he only saw Casey with her daughter a handful of times and that Caylee was never with Casey when she spent nights at his apartment. He said he stopped seeing them together at all in mid-June 2008.

Morales was the third of nine witnesses to be called by prosecutors Thursday, following the conclusion of testimony by Lazzaro and a recall by the prosecution of George Anthony.

Morales said that he remained friends with Casey after their break-up and that the last time he saw her with Caylee was when they spent the night at his house the first week of June. But he said she later agreed to pick him and some friends up from their trip to Puerto Rico on July 15.

Others that testified included several friends and associates Anthony either knew from as far back as high school or met in social situations in the weeks before Caylee was reported missing.

Melissa England met Casey on a visit to Orlando to see her boyfriend the July 4th weekend in 2008. The first night they hung out she described Casey as happy and partying. The next day, she testified to hearing Casey brag about being “such a good liar” after a phone conversation. She also recalled how Casey was distraught after a getting a series of phone calls the night of July 3.

George Anthony testified that he confronted his daughter in late June 2008 about the disappearance of gas cans from a storage shed at his house.

He described how at one point he wanted to look inside the trunk of her car, which was parked inside his garage at the time. He testified she prevented him from doing so. He also said she cursed at him and eventually tossed the cans at him after retrieving them from the trunk.

“She abruptly got into her car and drove away,” he said.

Prosecutors have said they believe Caylee’s decaying body had been stored there, and the girl’s grandparents noticed a foul odor when they picked up the car from a towing lot.



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