Casey Anthony Trial: Video of Vain Search Where Body Later Found


Psychologists Deem Casey Anthony Competent to Continue Trial

Mason claims that, "based on privileged communications between Casey Marie Anthony and her Counsel, Counsel reasonably believes that Ms. Anthony is not competent to aid and assist in her own defense and is incompetent to proceed," according to court documents.

If Anthony had been deemed incompetent, it could have halted the trial. Anthony could face the death penalty if convicted of first degree murder.

The judge told the court before the jury took their seats that three state psychologists spent Saturday and Sunday evaluating the 25-year-old Anthony.

"The court will find that the defendant is competent to continue to proceed. Those reports will be filed but pursuant to law those reports will remain under seal," Perry said.

Evidence photos in Casey Anthony murder trial

Experts said that Anthony's defense attorneys could certainly be concerned for her well being and have an ethical duty to report their concerns, but an incompetency ruling could also serve a strategic purpose.

"To the extent that it is strategic, it stops trial. She goes to a locked mental facility until such time as she's deemed competent again, if that happens," said Michael Seigel, a law professor at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. "The trial starts all over again, they could change their defense strategy and the prosecution's case is likely to be weaker."

The prosecution's case gets weaker as time progresses and memories fade, experts said. A halt to the trial could allow the defense to move away from their shocking opening statements that claimed that Caylee drowned and George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father, helped dispose of the toddler's body. The defense also told jurors that Casey Anthony hid the child's death out of fear of her father who they claim sexually abused her as a child.

George Anthony has denied those accusations.

The motion to determine Anthony's competency could serve appellate purposes, too, if she is found guilty and appeals her sentence. The adequacy of the tests could come up on appeal, experts said.

The court documents reveal little about what Anthony told her lawyers. On Saturday, there were private meetings in Judge Perry's chambers with the defense and prosecution. At one point, Anthony left the meeting and was seen crying.

"Maybe he [Judge Perry] was given some information outside of the motion that he went ahead to grant the order…he could have said no and the defense could have been found in contempt," said Mary Anne Franks, law professor at the University of Miami School of Law.

Legal experts told ABC News that competency hearings are typically done at the start of a trial.

"Normally you would do this before you start a trial or maybe they were able to say that something has happened in the last few weeks that makes her no longer fit to stand trial," said Mary Anne Franks, law professor at the University of Miami School of Law.

This morning, Anthony smiled in court and was busy reading materials along with her lawyers. During the trial, Anthony has appeared emotional at times. On the day pictures of Caylee's skull was shown, Anthony became ill and an early recess was called. Last week, she was extremely emotional watching her brother, Lee Anthony, cry on the witness stand.

The request for competency exams by Anthony's own lawyer raises the question whether they are considering an insanity defense. Legal experts caution that there is a difference between insanity and competency.

"Insanity has to do with a person's ability to understand right and wrong at the time of the offense, whereas competency has to do with understanding the nature of the charges and what the proceedings mean," said Franks.

Psychologists Determine That Casey Anthony Is Competent to Proceed With Murder Trial

Legal experts said that in order for Anthony to use an insanity defense, there would have to be a mistrial first.

Another reason for the competency hearings could be that the defense is still considering putting Anthony on the witness stand.

"The competency has to be for generally the process as a whole. I suppose it's possible that now they're nearing the time that she could take the stand and they're thinking more seriously about if they're going to put her on the stand, if she's able to withstand that," Franks said.

Franks also said that this is one of the few high profile cases of a mother accused of murdering her child where some form of an insanity defense has not been used.

Anthony and her defense team claim that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, 31 days before she was reported missing. The prosecution claims the Florida mother drugged and murdered her daughter.

This morning the defense focused on the cell phone records pulled by law enforcement and the use of a cadaver dog to examine Casey Anthony's car.

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