Casey Anthony's Defense Mirrors Story of Jailhouse Neighbor

Woman's story of child's accidental drowning similar to Casey Anthony's defense.

June 21, 2011 — -- A Florida woman has come forward to say that she was a jailhouse neighbor of Casey Anthony at a time when the women talked about how her child drowned in the family pool and that the child's grandfather called 911 to report the death.

The woman's story is similar to the surprise defense offered by Casey Anthony's lawyers on the first day of her murder trial.

Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick told the trial judge today that the woman's story came to their attention last Thursday or Friday and her claim is being investigated. She identified the woman as April Whalen.

Whalen's father, the man who reported his grandson's death in 2007, told that detectives came by his house last week to ask about his daughter. He said that his daughter told him that she once slept next to Anthony's cell in 2009.

"I think she did talk to her [Casey Anthony]," Lynn Whalen said.

It's unclear if April Whalen told Anthony about her child's death. April Whalen's 15-month-old son, Isaiah, accidentally drowned in the family's pool during a Christmas celebration in 2007.

Lynn Whalen did not know whether his daughter was the one who called the Orange County Sheriff's office, launching the investigation. April Whalen, 30, has been booked into the Orange County jail at least 10 times on charges including petit theft, driving with a suspended license and drug possession.

Anthony, 25, is accused of murdering 2-year-old daughter Caylee and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Anthony and her defense team claimed in their opening statement that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, 31 days before she was reported missing. They also contend that George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father, helped dispose of the child's body.

Lynn Whalen wouldn't comment on how he felt about the possibility that Casey Anthony was using his family's tragedy as a defense in her trial.

"I think that whole situation is a sad situation," he said.

Prosecutors said that for now they do not plan to call April Whalen as a witness, but that may change as the investigation continues.

Casey Anthony evidence photos

Earlier today, a defense witness in the Casey Anthony trial claimed that Caylee's skeletal remains could have been in a wooded area for as little as two weeks.

Anthony looked away as pictures of her 2-year-old Caylee's skull were shown among leaves and twigs where they were discovered off of Suburban Drive in December 2008.

Botanist Jane Bock told jurors that her study of what she calls leaf litter at the site where Caylee's skull was found indicated that the skeletal remains could have been there for a minimum of two weeks when they were discovered on Dec. 11, 2008.

Bock's assessment that the remains could have been in the wooded area for just a few weeks gives a boost to the defense. Anthony was in jail in the weeks leading up to the discovery of Caylee's remains.

Bock also testified that the leaves found in Casey Anthony's car do not match the leaves found with Caylee's remains.

Upon cross examination, Bock acknowledged that the remains could have been there as little as two weeks or much longer. Caylee's skull was found with leaves up to the jawline.

Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire tested positive for human decomposition and high levels of chloroform. The prosecution contends that Caylee died from chloroform and duct tape placed over her nose and mouth.

While the prosecution contends the body was lying in the woods for months, Casey Anthony's defense lawyers have stated that the man who eventually found the body, Roy Kronk, moved the body and essentially tampered with the evidence.

Experts have said that if the body was moved from the crime scene, any evidence associated with it -- like the duct tape -- could be brought into question.

The defense claims that the toddler accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. Caylee was not reported missing until July 15, 2008.

The defense resumed calling witnesses today after an abrupt end to Monday's hearing. Judge Belvin Perry reprimanded both defense attorney Jose Baez and prosecutor Jeff Ashton on Monday and recessed the court before any witnesses could be called.

Judge Again Gets Angry With Casey Anthony's Lawyer

The scolding continued today with Judge Belvin Perry saying that defense attorney Jose Baez had committed a "willful" discovery violation by not making sure forensic expert Richard Eikelenboom had completed a report required by the court. Each expert witness is required to file a report stating the opinions that he or she will testify to so that both the prosecution and defense can properly prepare their cases. Perry stopped short of excluding Eikelenboom. Instead, he is forbidding him from testifying on the DNA testing of decompositional fluid in Casey Anthony's car trunk until the court holds an extended hearing on the manner in the coming weeks.

Eikelenboom testified that one would expect to find DNA on the sticky side of duct tape placed over someone's mouth. Caylee Anthony's remains were found with three pieces of duct tape.

Upon cross examination, Eikelenboom conceded that it would be difficult to find DNA on tape that had been exposed to the same conditions as Caylee's remains.

Orange County Detective Yuri Melich also testified again. This time he discussed the search for chloroform at the Anthony family home. Police didn't search for chloroform until December of 2008, months after an initial report from forensic experts showed Casey Anthony's car tested positive for chloroform.

Marcus Wise, an analytic chemist, seemed to frustrate defense attorney Jose Baez. Wise was meant to refute evidence that showed high levels of chloroform found in Casey Anthony's car. Wise testified that peaks of chloroform were found in carpet samples from Casey Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire. He also said that an air sample from the car didn't show a strong presence of chloroform but that was to be expected since chloroform is a volatile gas that evaporates quickly.

Baez tried repeatedly to get Wise to negate Arpad Vass's qualifications. Vass is the scientist who took air samples from the car. Both are colleagues at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Wise called Vass "talented."

Vasco Thompson, the convicted kidnapper and surprise witness added to the defense's roster of witnesses, will be deposed Wednesday in the law offices of Cheney Mason, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The defense claims that Thompson and George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father, exchanged phone conversations the day before Caylee was reported missing. Both George Anthony and Vasco Thompson have denied knowing one another. Thompson's attorney filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

"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.