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

Jurors given trash from Casey Anthony's car trunk to sniff.

ByABC News
June 27, 2011, 9:47 AM

June 27, 2011 — -- Jurors in the Casey Anthony trial watched a video today of a private investigator searching in vain for the body of 2-year-od Caylee Anthony in the wooded area where the decomposed remains were discovered just a month later.

Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, is accused of her murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Today marked a day of courtroom surprises with jurors handling and smelling trash from Anthony's car trunk and the revelation that Anthony's own defense team tried to halt the trial over the weekend because they did not think she was competent enough to aid in her defense.

The video today showed investigators Dominic Casey and James Hoover, who were hired by the Anthony family, searching for Caylee's remains in November 2008. They did not find any remains despite appearing to be near the fallen tree where the girl's skull was found on Dec. 11, 2008.

Casey was working as a private investigator for the Anthony family and Hoover was acting as a security guard for the family.

Searching for Caylee Anthony Video

The video appeared to captivate jurors. It was filmed by Hoover and shows Casey looking through the woods and an area behind a private fence on two days in November 2008. Casey can be seen talking on a cell phone in one of the searches. He said today that he was on the phone with a psychic guiding him in the search for Caylee's remains.

Casey slashed open black plastic bags near the fence searching for Caylee. He also found what appeared to be a blanket, but no body or bones. He left the blanket in the woods.

It's unclear if the blanket found by Casey is the same blanket that was found with Caylee's decomposed skeleton. Her skull and bones were found with a Winnie the Pooh blanket, three pieces of duct tape, canvas bags, black plastic bags and a Gatorade bottle with a syringe.

Casey said that large parts of the wooded area were under several inches of water, a point law enforcement has made in why the area wasn't searched more frequently.

Casey Anthony Search Video Rivets Jury

It appeared the defense was attempting to bolster its contention that Caylee's remains had been tampered with and moved prior to their discovery.

The defense claims that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, 31 days before she was reported missing. They claim that George Anthony helped dispose of the body and that meter reader Roy Kronk who claims to have found the remains actually tampered with them.

If the recovery site of the remains is proven to have been tampered with, it could bring into question any of the evidence found at the site or with Caylee Anthony's remains, including the duct tape on her face that prosecutors argue was used to smother the girl.

Evidence photos in Casey Anthony murder trial

Along with the video, jurors in the Casey Anthony murder trial were handed pieces of trash today to sniff.

The trash came from Casey Anthony's car, the car that prosecutors claim reeked of death from the decaying remains of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. Defense lawyers argued the foul smell came from garbage left in the trunk.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton asked the judge for permission to let the jurors smell for themselves, handing them a Velveeta box and other bits of garbage that had been found in Anthony's car in the summer of 2008.

The defense attempted to poke holes in the testimony of the prosecution's star witness, Arpad Vass. Vass collected the controversial air samples that he says contains five chemicals that are signatures of human decomposition's odor.

Forensic and analytic chemist Kenneth Furton told jurors that there is "no instrumental method" that is scientifically valued for a chemical signature of human decomposition, a direct blow to Vass. Vass said that five chemical compounds including chloroform showed that there was human decomposition in the trunk.

Today, Furton argued that a variety of products, including some of Anthony's trash, could exhibit the same compounds.

Upon cross examination, an exasperated Ashton began taking out pieces of trash asking Furton if each piece of trash could have produced all five chemicals found by Vass. Furton said that not one of the products could have created the odor alone but could have contributed to it.

Ashton then passed those pieces of trash to jurors. Some of the jurors sniffed the trash, while others chose not to examine it.

Furton also questioned the standards that Vass used in the air samples he collected from the trunk of Anthony's car. Vass works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee at what is called the "Body Farm" where he studies the odor of human decomposition. He collected controversial air samples from Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire. Vass testified that the car contained an abundance of chloroform, a chemical found in human decomposition and also had the presence of fatty acids typically attributed to a decaying body.

Today, Furton said that chloroform can found in household cleaners like bleach and fatty acids could be found in animal products like milk and salami. A salami wrapper was found in the trunk of Anthony's car.

Defense Says Casey Anthony Not Competent to Continue Trial

Today's hearing started with the surprise revelation that Anthony's defense team had tried to halt her murder trial on Saturday by claiming in court documents that she is not competent to aid her own defense. They filed a motion for a competency evaluation Saturday morning which prompted an abrupt recess that until today had not been explained. Judge Belvin Perry said that over the weekend three court appointed psychologists evaluated Anthony. The reports concluded she was competent to continue.

The mystery behind an abrupt recess in the trial over the weekend was revealed this morning when court documents were released showing that defense attorney Cheney Mason filed for a motion Saturday to determine Anthony's competency.