The prosecution in Casey Anthony's murder trial put the Florida woman's ability to create elaborate lies on full display, playing a taped conversation of Anthony calmly describing to police the nanny who she claimed kidnapped 2-year-old Caylee.
A stone-faced Anthony listened in court today to the audio tape from July 16, 2008, the same day she would be arrested in the disappearance of her daughter, Caylee. On the tape, Anthony is being questioned about her written statement regarding Caylee's disappearance.
Anthony tells Yuri Melich, a detective in the missing children's unit, that she's telling the truth about Caylee being kidnapped by nanny Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez and defends why she didn't contact the police during the month when only she knew Caylee was missing.
"I think part of me was naive enough to think I could handle this myself, which obviously I couldn't and I was scared that something would happen to her if I would have notified the authorities…the fear of the unknown, fear of the potential of Caylee getting hurt, of me not seeing my daughter again," Anthony said on the tape.
She said she was also scared to tell her parents, George and Cindy Anthony.
When asked about the nanny, Anthony appeared to build the lie as she went along, giving the fictional nanny three different addresses where she had lived, a mom named Gloria, and roots in New York City. Anthony said that her one-time boyfriend, Jeffrey Hopkins, introduced her to the nanny when she was pregnant with Caylee.
Hopkins was based on an old middle school friend of the same name and Fernandez-Gonzalez never existed, Anthony's defense team conceded. Cindy Anthony, Casey Anthony's mom, testified Tuesday that she learned they were "imaginary people" after Caylee's disappearance.
Anthony used her lie of working at Universal Studios to explain why she didn't have phone numbers for the babysitter, Hopkins or for another fictional person, a supposed co-worker named Juliette Lewis. She told police that a phone that her job had provided for her wasn't working and it held some of the phone numbers they needed.
She detailed the lives of these imaginary characters. Hopkins had moved to North Carolina and back to Florida. Lewis had just moved back to New York. The nanny had moved from New York to Florida to attend college and stayed in the area.
Casey Anthony's Elaborate Lie About Caylee's Disappearance
On the tape, she calmly describes the day Caylee disappeared.
"I got off of work, left Universal, driving back to pick up Caylee like a normal day. I show up to the apartment, knock on the door and no one answers. So I call Zenaida' s cell phone and it's out of service…so I sit down on the steps and wait for a little bit to see if maybe it's just a fluke, maybe something happenened," said Anthony in the taped conversation.
"After about 7 o'clock …I was getting pretty upset, pretty frantic...I didn't really want to come home, I wasn't sure what I would say about not knowing where Caylee was," Anthony said.
All of this would prove to be lies that Casey Anthony's own defense team has acknowledged. They opened the murder trial last week by claiming Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008.
The prosecution claims Casey Anthony killed her daughter. If convicted of first degree murder, the 25-year-old Florida woman could face the death penalty.
The only time Anthony showed any emotion while listening to the tape was when she described Caylee's "very distinctive features…dark hazel eyes…she has a birth mark on her left shoulder…it's just like a small line, it almost looks like a small beauty mark."
When Detective Melich gives her one more chance to change or add anything to her written statement about what happened to Caylee, she sticks to her story. "I just want my daughter back," she says on the tape.
When Melich drove with Anthony to the numerous addresses she detailed as belonging to the babsysitter, nobody was home. Some of the addresses turned out to be near her friend's aparments where she stayed during Caylee's disappearance.
Earlier today, Casey Anthony's brother testified that when his sister first told him that the babysitter had stolen her 2-year-old toddler Caylee, she was cold and displayed no emotion.
"She just looked at me really with no reaction," Lee Anthony said. "She told me that she had not seen Caylee in 31 days, that she had been kidnapped and that the nanny took her."
Casey Anthony stuck to that story for nearly three years until her murder trial began in an Orlando, Fla., courtroom last week.
Lee Anthony testified about July 15, 2008, the day that police were finally alerted to Caylee's disappearance. Casey Anthony kept looking at her brother, crying at times, but Lee Anthony refused to look her way or acknowledge her.
He testified about the day when a combative Casey Anthony had been brought from her boyfriend's apartment to the family home by her mother, Cindy Anthony. A frustrated Cindy Anthony was demanding answers about the whereabouts of her granddaughter, Caylee.
Cindy Anthony's concerns were heightened by the fact that earlier that day, she and her husband George had picked up Casey Anthony's abandoned car from a tow yard and complained that the car smelled like human decomposition.
Casey Anthony's Brother Says She Had No Reaction to Caylee's Disappearance
Lee Anthony testified that his mother had asked him to come to the home to help get answers from his sister about Caylee. He said that Casey Anthony refused to let anyone from the family pick up Caylee, saying that she was sleeping at the nanny's house and she didn't want to disrupt the toddler.
"Nothing was making sense to me...why couldn't we or anybody just go get Caylee and bring her home. There's no reason to fight with mom at this point," Lee Anthony said he advised his sister.
At one point, Casey Anthony told her brother that she wasn't letting them see Caylee because "maybe I'm a spiteful b***," Lee Anthony said.
Casey Anthony told her brother that their mom "had numerous times thrown it in her face" that she "was an unfit mother for Caylee." and that their mother "had also referenced Caylee as being a mistake, but a great mistake or the best mistake that Casey's ever made," Lee Anthony said.
Finally, after telling Casey Anthony that the police were on their way and that the police would go to the nanny's home whether Casey Anthony wanted to take them there or not, Casey Anthony confessed that her daughter had been missing for a month.
When Cindy Anthony heard that her granddaugther was stolen, she became frantic and called 911 for a third time that day and a police officer arrived within minutes.
Brendan Fletcher, the police officer who responded to the Anthony home, testified today that Casey Anthony was initially uncooperative with him.
"She didn't really say much," Fletcher said. "I was not getting anything to further the nature of the call and the concerns of her mother."
Eventually, Anthony told Fletcher that a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez had Caylee at the Sawgrass Apartments. Fletcher and another deputy drove to the apartment with Casey Anthony. The lights were off and no one was home, Fletcher said. The officer said he could see into the apartment and noticed there was no furniture.
This morning's testimony began with cross-examination of Amy Huizenga, the former friend of Casey Anthony. Casey Anthony was found guilty of six felonies earlier this year for writing checks from Huizenga's account without her knowledge to buy clothes and groceries during the month Caylee was missing.
Huizenga said that Casey Anthony frequently referred to her mother, Cindy, as "crazy."
Cindy Anthony testified Tuesday that she'd called Huizenga out of desperation when she had been unable to track down Casey and Caylee for a month, although they lived with Cindy Anthony. She found Huizenga's phone number in Casey's car after retrieving the vehicle from the tow pound.
It was Huizenga who led Cindy Anthony to the apartment where Casey Anthony was staying on July 15, 2008.
"[It was] a massive explosion of mother and daughter and... I was a little scared and really tried to close myself off…I was caught in the middle for a while…a lot of confrontation," said Huizenga of the moment when Casey and Cindy Anthony saw each other for the first time in a month on July 15, 2008.
Today's testimony was less emotional than on Tuesday when a crying Cindy Anthony crumpled on the stand, burying her head in her arms, as jurors listened to her frantic 911 calls to report her granddaughter's disappearance.
Lee Anthony showed little emotion today, while Casey Anthony cried at the sight of her brother and during a lengthy side bar among the lawyers and the judge.
Casey Anthony's defense team have claimed that her elaborate lies during the time of her daughter's life and disappearance were the way she coped with years of alleged abuse at the hands of her father, George Anthony, and alleged attempted abuse by her brother, Lee Anthony.