The surprise testimony by Casey Anthony's mother that she was the one who repeatedly looked up "chloroform" on the Internet has raised questions by experts about whether she could now be vulnerable to charges of perjury.
Cindy Anthony's claims under oath Thursday clearly blindsided prosecutors who had claimed in their opening statement that Casey Anthony had looked up "chloroform" and "how to make chloroform" 84 times as well as other incriminating Internet searches such as "neck breaking."
It is a key piece of prosecutors' circumstantial case because they say that Casey Anthony used chloroform to subdue her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, and then suffocated her with duct tape over her nose and mouth.
Cindy Anthony's testimony, which drew gasps from the court observers Thursday, came a day after her lawyer retracted comments suggesting that Casey Anthony's parents thought she was guilty of killing Caylee. If convicted, Casey Anthony could face the death penalty.
Cindy Anthony's claim that she carried out the many chloroform searches occurred at a time when her time card as a nurse showed that she was working. Cindy Anthony claims she left work early on those days.
"We already know that on the state's witness list they've got the record keeper for Cindy's work. ... If they have her computer records, they're going to be able to show she was absolutely at work and if the defense set her up for a perjury charge, it's on them," former prosecutor Nancy Grace said today on "Good Morning America."
Cindy Anthony's Testimony on Chloroform Angered Prosecutors
Dan Abrams, also appearing on "Good Morning America," said he wasn't certain that Cindy Anthony would be charged with perjury. He pointed out, however, unusual aspects, "when your memory gets better over time, when you're able to offer this many more details over time as to exactly how she was doing the searches when she was doing the searches, why she was doing the searches."
Grace agreed that some of the details of Cindy Anthony's recall of what happened three years ago were remarkable. "When it came to 'neck breaking,' the way she explained that was three years later she remembers a pop up came up. ... I don't remember a pop up from yesterday. How does she remember a pop up three years later?"
Abrams thought, however, that the prosecutors were too rough on Cindy Anthony when it was their turn to ask about her surprise testimony.
"The prosecution was so aggressive with Cindy Anthony that I think there's a real risk of engendering sympathy for her even if the jurors don't necessarily believe everything she's saying," he said.
Grace disagreed. "When you are prosecuting a 'murder-one' case and you have a witness take the stand who you believe is lying, you've got to do what you've got to do," she said.
Abrams speculated that Cindy Anthony might have reduced the danger of her daughter's being convicted of the top count and easing the threat of capital punishment.
"One of the charges is aggravated murder, another one is premeditated murder," Abrams said. "The best evidence that the prosecutors have about premeditation is the computer searches. If you're able to negate these computer searches in any way, shape or form, you've done a good job of trying to have these jurors potentially focus on aggravated manslaughter as opposed to premeditated murder."