Casey Anthony Trial Becomes Heated During Closing Arguments

Judge scolds both sides as lawyers squabble during closing arguments.

ByABC News
July 3, 2011, 8:26 AM

ORLANDO, Fla. July 3, 2011— -- Prosecutors accused Casey Anthony today of "sacrificing" her 2-year-old daughter Caylee so her mom could enjoy the good life, while defense lawyers dismissed much of the case against Casey Anthony as "fantasy forensics."

The summations in the six week long murder case became so heated today that Judge Belvin Perry had to call a halt to the procedings and said he would expel lawyers from the case if they continued to squabble.

The eruption began when defense lawyer Jose Baez interrupted his summation and yelled to jurors that prosecutor Jeff Ashton was a "laughing guy" as Ashton barely hid a smile behind his hand.

Perry quickly halted the trial and called a recess. After the recess, the judge scolded Baez and Ashton.

"I assume that you are all maybe I am misinformed when I think you will follow the law, but I'm beginning to see that orders or anything else may not mean a hill of a bean to any of you," Perry said.

"If it happens again, the remedy will be exclusion of that attorney from further participation in these proceedings... along with some other things that will be quite quite unpleasant. Enough is enough," the judge said.

It is highly unusual for sidebars to be called during closing arguments, legal experts told ABC News. From the outset of the trial, Perry has reprimanded the attorneys for taking personal jabs at one another.

The spat delayed the trial and prevented closing arguments from finishing today. Jurors will return Monday, the Fourth of July, to hear the prosecution's rebuttal. Judge Belvin Perry will charge the jurors and they will start deliberating.

Casey Anthony, 25, could be sentenced to death if convicted of first degree murder.

During closing arguments, Baez blasted the prosecution's attempt to link his client to the murder of her daughter.

"I'd like to call this next phase, the state's fantasy of forensics," he said.

"Phantom stickers, phantom DNA, no fingerprints, nothing. But she's [Casey Anthony] a liar and a slut," Baez said sarcastically. "Convict her on that...she made some stupid decisions, but let's make her pay with her life."

Baez has attacked each piece of forensic evidence submitted in the case from whether Casey Anthony's car trunk reeked of human decomposition to the autopsy of Caylee's skeletal remains to duct tape found on the toddler's jaw.

Updated evidence photos from the Casey Anthony murder trial

"You have seen this checkbook prosecution where they spared no expense, utilized the finest crime labs in the country...used not only established areas of forensic science but created new ones that were never testified before in front of a jury," Baez said.

The defense was referring to the use of controversial air samples by the state to argue that Casey Anthony's car tested positive for human decomposition. Baez attacked the scientist behind those air samples, Dr. Arpad Vass, calling him a scientific explorer trying to market his invention.

Baez argued that the state was attempting to win this case at any cost.

"This is about winning a high profile case and nothing else. This is not about the search for truth," Baez said.

He told jurors that there were too many questions left unanswered to render a guilty verdict, especially a verdict that could result in her execution.

"The key question in this case will never be answered...and that is, how did Caylee die?" Baez said.

The medical examiner said that Caylee's remains were too decomposed to determine a cause of death, which was finalized as "homicide by undetermined means."

Baez argued that the prosecution was playing on their emotions in the death of the little girl because there was not sufficient evidence to find Casey Anthony guilty of first degree murder.

He insisted that Caylee's death was an accident, the result of a drowning by a little girl capable of climbing the pool ladder on her own. He said that Casey Anthony's lying about her daughter's death fit in with the imaginary world she'd created of fictional lovers, babysitters and co-workers.

"If a person lives in that kind of world, these facts make more sense," Baez said.

Casey Anthony: From Loving Mother to Stressed Out Inmate

He also tried to portray the Anthony family as dysfunctional, calling Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, a liar and continued to implicate her father, George Anthony, in a cover-up of Caylee's death.

In the morning, the prosecution concluded its closing arguments by claiming that Casey Anthony sacrificed her daughter, Caylee, so she could live a life free of the restraints of young motherhood.

"Casey Anthony decided on June 16 [2008] that something had to be sacrificed, that the conflict between the life that she wanted and the life that was thrust upon her was simply irreconcilable and something had to give," Ashton said.

"She took her child, she took her life and she put her in the trunk and forgot about her. After a couple of days, she couldn't forget anymore and she disposed of her body in a swamp," Ashton said.

"She is guilty of murder in the first degree, and that murder was premeditated," Ashton said, elements that would qualify Casey Anthony for the death penalty.

Ashton started his presentation with a video of a giggling Caylee playing with her mother. He then detailed Casey Anthony's elaborate lies. As Ashton her fictional world, Casey Anthony sobbed.

When Caylee first disappeared in June 2008, she claimed that a fictional nanny was taking care of her. Eventually, Casey Anthony alleged that the nanny had kidnapped Caylee.

The prosecution argued that Anthony chose to murder her daughter, Caylee, when she became old enough to talk and might reveal her mother's lies.

"The only way Casey's lies work is if Caylee isn't talking. Caylee is two and a half, almost 3. She's starting to become verbal. She's starting talk. Caylee is not going to cooperate," Ashton said.

Ashton said that Casey Anthony drugged her daughter with chloroform and smothered her with duct tape over her nose and mouth.

"We can only hope that the chloroform was used before the tape was applied so that Caylee went peacefully without feeling," Ashton said.