Anthony Defense Denied Access to 'Mounting Evidence'

Casey Anthony's defense team says it has been denied access to evidence

ByABC News
December 11, 2008, 1:25 PM

Dec. 16, 2008 — -- In an emergency court hearing today, Casey Anthony's attorney was denied access to a crime scene where the remains of a small child believed to be Caylee Anthony were found last week.

A similar motion was previously denied by Judge Stan Strickland on the grounds that the remains had yet to be positively identified as the missing Orlando, Fla., toddler and that the crime scene had not "wrapped" -- sentiments he echoed today.

"I can't assist you with interfering in a murder investigation," Strickland said while handing down today's ruling. "The simple fact is there's no time clock on an investigation."

Jose Baez, Casey's lawyer, argued that the days of police searching had undoubtedly altered evidence that was important to the defense and to getting his client a fair trial.

"It's no longer a crime scene. It's more of an excavation site," he said.

Stickland also denied Baez's motion for a second autopsy and said the point is moot until the remains are positively identified.

While segments of bone found at the scene have been sent to FBI labs for DNA testing, last week Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Carlos Padilla told ABC News that police were "somewhat confident" the remains were Caylee's. In the hearing, an attorney for the Orange County Sheriff's Office described the skull that was found in the remains as that of a "little girl."

Caylee, who was 2 years old when she disappeared in June, was not reported missing by her mother, Casey, until a month later. Casey Anthony was charged with the murder Oct. 14.

Casey Anthony was not present for the hearing today.

Strickland urged authorities to share evidence with the defense "under the normal course of discovery." Police estimate they will open the crime scene to the defense Thursday, Padilla told ABC News.

Today's hearing revealed tensions between the defense and investigators over the handling of evidence related to the new crime scene that was uncovered last week after a city maintenance worker found the remains of a small child in a plastic bag in the woods less than a half mile from the Anthony home.

Baez claims to have been repeatedly denied access to the scene, despite the state's agreement to "work it out."

According to the motion, Baez flew in six experts to prepare to examine the site, but "after repeated efforts to resolve the matter with law enforcement, the defense was forced to fly their experts out without having had the opportunity to process or at the very least view the crime scene."

"We kind of went through this dance every single day," Baez said in the hearing.

"The authorities haven't done one thing to cooperate," Todd Black, a spokesman for Baez, told ABC News in a telephone interview before the hearing.

The motion also shows a concern by the defense that evidence will have been "irretrievably altered" or destroyed by the time it is allowed to examine it.