Here‘s a good article detailing the evidence, presumably to be offered by the prosecution, about computer searches from the Anthony’s home computer involving chloroform – not Casey Anthony’s personal laptop, which apparently also exists, but on the family home computer that everyone in the house used and had access to. Good police work here:
But Cawn and her supervisor, Sgt. Kevin Stenger, could not see anything besides that word, chloroform, and they needed help to find out more.
At a computer conference in Orlando in 2009, Stenger met John Dennis Bradley, a Canadian computer expert.
Bradley worked for three days, for free, to try and extract the information from the Anthonys’ computer.
He finally cracked it at 3 a.m. on the Friday he was set to fly home.
“I found two results,” Bradley told lawyers in his deposition. “One was for ‘chloroform,’ spelled ‘c-h-l-o-r-o-f-o-r-m,’ and that was dated March 17, 2008, at 14:43 p.m., 41 seconds. And there was one visit. And the second entry is for ‘how to make chloroform,’ and the same spelling on the 21st of March, 2008, at 3:16 p.m. and 30 seconds. One visit.”
There is also, I read somewhere, a statement or testimony from a witness that was in jail with Casey Anthony to the effect that Casey Anthony told her she used chloroform to put Caylee to sleep sometimes.
As to the latter – the “jailhouse snitch” saying that the defendant told me this or the defendant told me that – this is the lowest form of “evidence” that exists. It should not be admitted unless it is corroborated electronically or by some other reliable method. Lamentably, it is always admitted, and juries often believe it, due primarily to their tendency to believe anything that implicates the accused.
In any case, the actual, true value of the jail house snitch testimony is zero. In a fair world, it would be less than zero because the jury would lower their estimation of the prosecution’s credibility for even using such garbage at all.
The computer search evidence, going on the basis of what is in the linked article, should probably not be admitted into evidence because too many people other than the defendant could have done such a search, and the prejudice of introducing it outweighs the probative value. Although there’s a not unreasonable argument the other way – that it should be admitted into evidence, and such issues as how many people could have done the search are the subject of argument to the jury and up to them.
Of course, the Judge has sided with the prosecution on this. There is a colorable basis for such a ruling, but it’s quite clear that the better argument is that the prejudice of the evidence outweighs the probative value. There is, at most, a 1 in 3 chance that it was the defendant’s computer search. Before evidence that significant and incriminating is admitted the prosecution should have to at least show a probability that it was the defendant’s search, not a 1 in 3 chance.
So the judge is generous in allowing evidence in. But only to the prosecution. He has been extremely stingy to the defense. I can’t think of one defense motion he has granted.
That’s a pro-prosecution bias, but it’s typical. It isn’t just the Casey Anthony case for that phenomenon. Pretty much every criminal case is like that.
One last point is that the date of the search, March 17th, is too remote in time from the little girl’s disappearance or death to suggest murder using chloroform as the instrument. But it would suggest, if you grant that Casey Anthony did the search, that she was using chloroform on her daughter. And that in turn suggests a scenario where she might have overdone it and wound up accidentally killing the little girl.
I would not grant that Casey Anthony did the computer search. It is possible. But it is also possible that Cindy did the search, or George, or some other person who was visiting. But the argument that Casey Anthony is the most likely person of the candidates to have made the search is not unreasonable.
Update: In an apparent “bombshell” type revelation, the prosecution introduces evidence that the term “chloroform” was searched 84 times on the Anthony home desktop computer in March of 2008; AND, that both Cindy and George Anthony were at work at the time it was searched, which would pretty much leave only Casey to be doing the searching. This is not good for the defense, but there may be explanations that would soften the blow. March is kind of a long way from the little girl’s death in June unless the prosecution is going to claim that the defendant was thinking about it for a long time before she did it, which again is one of those things that is possible but not too likely; it is still more indicative, best case for the prosecution, of a desire to sedate an unruly child. That would, however, strongly suggest that the little girl’s death, while an “accident”, would quite likely be the kind of accident that results in a manslaughter conviction.
Update 2: Correction. Not really a problem for the defense, actually. Even if Casey was the one doing the search, she was dating a guy named Ricardo Morales at the time who – prior to March of ’08 – had posted something on his “Myspace” page about chloroforming women to subdue them. Casey would have had every reason to be concerned and search that term, and apparently ended her relationship with Morales about a month later. After which, apparently, there were no more searches for the term “chloroform” on the computer, unless the prosecution hasn’t gotten to that yet.