Casey Anthony murder trial experts describe tot's bones

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 2:09 PM
Casey Anthony murder trial experts describe tot's bones

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Celebrity medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia testified on Friday that bones scattered in woods near Casey Anthony's home were positively identified as those of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Garavaglia is the star of the Discovery Channel reality show "Dr. G: Medical Examiner." She also is the official in charge of determining the cause and manner of questionable deaths in central Florida, including Orlando where Casey is on trial for first-degree murder in Caylee's death.

Garavaglia was expected to tell the jury her conclusions after a lunch break. Prosecutors have said duct tape wrapped three times around Caylee's head, nose and mouth is the only evidence indicating cause of death.

Prosecutors say Casey killed her toddler on June 16, 2008 so she could "live the good life," free of the responsibility of parenthood. Casey's attorney told jurors Caylee accidentally drowned in the Anthony family's backyard swimming pool and no one reported her death.

By the time Caylee's body was found on December 11, 2008, after a nationwide search, only her skeleton remained.

Friday marked the second day of testimony dominated by graphic descriptions about the condition of the child's remains. Thursday's court session adjourned early after Casey fell ill.

The 25-year-old defendant was back in court first thing Friday morning. She kept her head down and dabbed her eyes and nose with tissues during testimony by John Schultz, a forensic anthropologist and archeologist who helped recover most of Caylee's bones from the crime scene.

From what he found, Schulz concluded Caylee's body was mostly intact inside layers of bags when it was dumped in a wooded area. Over time, he testified, the body was pulled apart and dragged by animals to other spots nearby.

As Schulz testified about a bone he said showed signs of having been "chewed on by an animal," Casey appeared to slump toward one of her lawyers, who wrapped an arm around her.

Schulz said he found that plant roots had grown through the matted hair surrounding Caylee's skull and through her bones.

One pelvic bone was partially buried in sediment. Schulz said the sediment indicated to him that the area had been underwater for a time and that silt suspended in the water had settled on and around the bone as the ground dried out.

That detail helps explain why the body was missed in searches of the area in August 2008.

Meter reader Roy Kronk first reported seeing something suspicious in the woods that August, about one month after Caylee was reported missing. Kronk has stated that the area was wet and harbored snakes. Although deputies responded to the scene, they failed to find the body.

Defense attorney Jose Baez, in his opening statement to the jury, suggested Kronk had some role in placing Caylee's body where it was found.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)