Casey Anthony Trial: Surprise Witness Embarrasses Defense

Brawl erupted outside courthouse in a fight for seats at the trial.

June 17, 2011, 9:17 AM

June 17, 2011 — -- Casey Anthony's "surprise witness" became an embarrassment for the defense today when the witness held a news conference outside of the courthouse where she is being tried for murder and said that he did not know the Anthony family.

Defense attorney Jose Baez included Vasco Thompson, a convicted kidnapper, as a last minute surprise addition to his amended witness list earlier this week. Baez claimed that Thompson and Casey Anthony's father, George Anthony, shared a series of phone conversations the day before 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's disappearance was reported to authorities in July 2008.

George Anthony angrily issued a statement through his attorney earlier this week denying those claims. Today, Vasco Thompson stood outside the Orange County courthouse and also denied that he'd ever met George Anthony.

"I have no idea who George Anthony is," Thompson said. "The phone number they got, I didn't have that number until February of 2009. I don't know why they dragged me into all this mess."

Baez never said what Thompson's connection to the case may have been, but he has accused George Anthony of helping to dispose of Caylee's body after she accidentally drowned in the family pool.

It is unlikely that Baez will now call Thompson to the witness stand.

Most of the drama around the Casey Anthony trial happened outside the courthouse today. Hours before Thompson spoke, a brawl erupted among people who had lined up all night for a coveted seat to the murder trial. The violence prompted the Orange County Courthouse to change their rules today for those seeking admission to the trial.

Caution: Some Casey Anthony evidence photos are graphic.

Since the trial began, those hoping to get a glimpse of Anthony legal drama have lined up during the night for one of the 58 seats reserved for members of the public.

Casey Anthony, 25, is accused of murdering her daughter Caylee. She has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted.

The overnight brawl wasn't the first time those seeking admission have gotten into a scuffle. Other skirmishes have occurred over the last few weeks, but none got this violent.

On Thursday night, people began lining up as early as 8:30 p.m. for a chance to attend today's hearing. When the crowd was moving to a location closer to the courthouse entrance around 5 a.m., fists began to fly.

Jessie Dorris, 27, told ABC Affiliate WFTV that she was shocked when the men "just cut in front of us."

The two men trying to cut to the front of the line began throwing punches and one lady is seen on camera punching another man to free her friend from a headlock. The fight was caught on video.

After this morning's punch up, the rules for gaining access to the trial now require people to line up at 8 a.m. on the day before they want to attend a hearing. At 4 p.m., a list will be made of those who can attend the next day's hearing. At 8 a.m. the next morning, those on the list must present an I.D. to gain admission to the hearing. Those hoping to get admission to a Monday hearing must line up on Saturday afternoon.

The trial had another distraction this week when Casey Anthony's parents called 911 to report alleged trespassing by a bounty hunter who once bailed Casey Anthony out of jail.

George Anthony, Casey's father, made a call to 911 on Wednesday to report that bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and a Fox News crew were on his property.

Padilla and his nephew bailed Casey Anthony out of jail in August 2008, hoping she would be more cooperative in the search for 2-year-old Caylee if she wasn't behind bars. When Casey Anthony wasn't cooperative, the Padillas rescinded their bond and she was put back in jail.

Padilla's relationship with the Anthonys quickly soured during the bail debacle and the sight of him near the Anthony family home on Wednesday prompted the 911 call.

According to a log of the call, an Orange County deputy sheriff arrived at the Anthony home at 5:12 p.m. Wednesday. Padilla was "with a news crew and won't leave," according to the incident report filed by police. After 25 minutes, Padilla and the news crew left the property.

Padilla told the Orlando Sentinel that he was with Judge Jeanine Pirro and her Fox News crew when deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's office asked him to leave because of there was an existing restraining order against him.

Padilla denied that a restraining order existed and said that he was there to show the distance between the Anthony family home and where Caylee's skull was found in December 2008, according to the Sentinel.

George and Cindy Anthony are in court today as the defense spent their second day of calling forensic experts in the first degree murder trial.

Casey Anthony Testimony Focused on Maggots and Blow Flies

This morning's testimony continued with forensic experts. Entomologist Timothy Huntington was called by defense attorney Jose Baez. Huntington testified about the maggots found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car and the bugs found near Caylee's remains. Caylee's remains were found in December 2008 in a wooded area near the Anthony family home.

Huntington testified that Caylee's body did not start its decomposition in the wooded area off Suburban Drive, but was moved after it started decomposing. He said that because few blow flies were found with Caylee's remains, decomposition could not have started in the woods.

"What was missing from the scene are those early colonizing flies, those blow flies...their absence is unusual in a case where a body is recovered outdoors in that nature," Huntington said to ABC affiliate WFTV. "What that indicated is that the body was moved or transported from some other location to the site where it was certainly shows a post mortem movement."

Blow flies typically flock to dead bodies in the early stages of decomposition.

The defense contends that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and that George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father, helped dispose of her remains. They also argue that the meter reader who found Caylee's remains, Roy Kronk, tampered with the skeleton.

Huntington also said that the trunk of the Pontiac Sunfire smelled like garbage to him, not human decomposition. Previous witnesses have testified that the car reeked of death.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton aggressively cross-examined Huntington, making him admit that he hadn't investigated the car until 2010, two years after Caylee's disappearance. By that time the liner of the trunk and the bag of trash in the trunk had been removed.

He also conceded that the body was likely decomposing somewhere else for two or three days before it was brought to the woods.

When Ashton asked how the absence of blow flies impacts decomposition, Huntington said that the odor of decomposition grows stronger and that the smell is difficult to remove.

Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire tested positive for high levels of chloroform, a chemical that is associated with human decomposition and can also be used to kill. The trunk did not test positive for the presence of human blood.

When the witness was asked if high levels of chloroform could thwart blow flies, he was unable to give a definitive answer.

The prosecution claims that Casey Anthony killed Caylee by drugging her with chloroform and then putting duct tape over her mouth and nose. Prosecutors contend she carried the child's body around in her car before disposing of the body in the woods. Caylee's remains were found with duct tape, a Winnie the Pooh blanket and trash bags.

Much of the morning was spent in sidebars and with the jury out of the room as the prosecution argued that Huntington wasn't qualified to discuss stains found in Casey Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire and whether they were signs of decomposition or not.

At one point, prosecutor Jeff Ashton mocked defense attorney Jose Baez for "texting" on his blackberry, prompting Judge Belvin Perry to reprimand both men.

"I do not care if Mr. Baez is standing on his head, standing on one leg…let's just stick with the facts and be professional," Perry said.

Caution: Some Casey Anthony evidence photos are graphic.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of lying to law enforcement. She has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.

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