Casey Anthony, Chloroform, Computer Searches And Judicial Bias (Update)(x2)

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 ’08had 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.



Filed under wrongful convictions

13 responses to “Casey Anthony, Chloroform, Computer Searches And Judicial Bias (Update)(x2)

  1. Val Fahey

    There are some “types” of defendants who I could see confiding in cellmates and other inmates. But Casey Anthony does not strike me as being one of them.


    • Well, the point is that no matter what “type” the defendant is, it is simply too easy for someone to come along, always with an incentive from the prosecution to do so of course, and claim that a defendant “said” something incriminating. If there is any “evidence” that is inherently unreliable it is that. I think Texas passed a law recently excluding that kind of evidence. For once, everyone should follow Texas’ lead.


  2. Merg

    Putting aside the obvious bias towards guilt of the media, I wonder why the defense did not go after two comments by the medical examiner’s testimony that could be construed as bias or just inaccurate:

    1 – homocide is the only logical conclusion in this case
    2 – 100% of accidental deaths are reported

    To allow comment 1 to stand unchallenged would nullify the defense theory. Wouldn’t this be a chance to establish the possible logic that it was accidental death?

    Is there a study for the 100% accidental deaths? Is this just for Orange county? Florida? Nationwide? It’s hard to believe that 100% of all accidental deaths are reported. That would also assume we are aware of 100% of accidental deaths.

    Also, logic does not dictate that if 99 events result in A that #100 must also be A instead of B. It sounds like a stretch for the medical examiner to use this as the basis to declare homocide.

    Am I reaching here, or did the defense miss an opportunity?


    • Merg, the way a trial goes is that you put on your evidence, but arguments about what the evidence means is reserved for the end, where you get to give your interpretation of the evidence in what is called the closing argument. You don’t argue with witnesses or make arguments about the evidence at the time it is presented.

      So you won’t know if the defense “missed an opportunity” until the end.


  3. bluebird

    thank goodness for a logical objective point of view for a change!


  4. Charles

    Personally I think this entire media circus is disgusting. They have decided she is guilty and gleefully spend 24/7 dragging her name through the mud. What is going to happen if she is aquitted? This woman, even if found not guilty by a jury, will be labelled in the minds of every person in the US as guilty, and will never be able to show her face anywhere. Ever. This is sad, disgusting, and just plain wrong. If she is guilty, then the trial will bear that out, if not, then she does not deserve the media treatment she is getting. Honestly, I don’t think she can get a fair trial anywhere in the WORLD at this point with the salivating media hounds boosting ratings by dragging this on and on and on.


    • Important point. You are right, the charges themselves ruin your life, even if you are acquitted. Most people will not regard that as an exoneration.

      My own feeling is that people who have been wrongly accused or convicted should generally leave the country..



      The girl may not be guilty of murdering her daughter but she is definitely guilty of being an awful mother. She showed exactly how little she cared for that baby when she failed to report her missing and partied in the mean time like nothing was wrong. Her defense team admitted that Caylee drowned in the pool and that rather than reporting it to the police, Casey, and supposedly her father, took Caylee’s little body and dumped it. This is still a crime. If this scenario is true, which I doubt, how could Casey, as a mother, do this to her baby? Didn’t Caylee deserve to be put to rest with love and dignity, instead of being dumped in the middle of swamp wrapped in a garbage bag? Regardless of how it happened, Casey either neglected or abused her daughter and made some seriously bad decisions to try and cover her own butt. She may be marked for life by this, but don’t think that she won’t have some million dollar book or movie deal by the end of the year. Don’t worry, Casey Anthony will live a fine life, despite the fact that her baby is dead.


      • There is truth in what you say. Even under the innocent of murder or manslaughter scenario, there is a lot of blameworthy conduct. But even then, it’s extremely difficult to arrive at any conclusions about who did what that led to these things. What possible explanation could there be?

        I personally find the most plausible explanation to be some conduct by George for some reason or reasons that maybe only he knows.

        As screwed up as Casey was and is, there is something about her behavior in the aftermath of the death of her daughter that in fact seems to indicate a feeling that she had been set free. But I don’t think that feeling she may have had had anything to do with feeling free of caring for her daughter now that her daughter is dead, as it has been portrayed; it may have more to do with a bizarre feeling that she was freed by her father for any responsibility she may have felt she had for Caylee’s death, which her father had drilled into her to begin with. If the little girl had gotten out and drowned in the pool maybe George blamed Casey for that and convinced Casey that she was at fault. Then by “exonerating” her, taking control of everything and basically encouraging her to run off she feels he is in control, she has no more responsibility and she regresses into fantasy land, having been given “permission” to do so.

        Meanwhile George has not really forgiven his daughter and tries to implicate her in the death of his granddaughter while she’s in la la land.

        I don’t know. Something like that could fit if George is way, way out there. Which he might be. And if he is like that remember that this is the father that Casey knew her whole life. The father is a powerful figure in the psyche and she hadn’t really gotten away from him.

        The only things that Casey will ever be able to relay about all this are facts; perhaps the facts that Baez gave in his opening is all she really knows. Any explanation for her subsequent behavior will come from an analyst. Casey has no context in which to view it.

        I have the feeling that the key to this whole thing is George, not Casey.
        It’s just a feeling mostly. He is a strange one. That seems objectively true to me.


        • Linda D.

          Geez, you guys would really like Hans Christian Anderson, too, since you can easily convince yourselves that the defenses fairy tales are real, while suspending reality for prolonged periods!
          She was found “not guilty” – she’s not innocent, however.


          • I don’t know why the defense was peddling fairy tales any more than the prosecution was. There’s an extensive discussion in the comments to these posts between me and a commenter named “April” that went through all of that rather exhaustively. I recommend reading those comments to see how the reasoning in this matter goes.

            And you might also read my latest post, entitled “Duct Tape”.


    • Leslie

      Looks Like Charles hit the nail on the head…way before the verdict.


  5. bluebird

    I have heard any testimony about how Chloroform was made, how Casey may have made or did make it, or whether she purchased it, or whether she purchased the materials, or whether the ingredients were available to her….did I miss something? I hope the defense plans on demonstrating how chloroform is made using the alleged instructions found on line!


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