'Body Farm' a key battle in Casey Anthony case

By Adam Longo, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010

Joe Heffner leads few tours of the infamous "Body Farm."

"This is an impression left behind by a body," Heffner points out casually.

Scientists at the Body Farm put together a 41-page report for investigators on the Casey Anthony case.

They tested carpet and odor samples from the trunk of Anthony's car and ultimately concluded that "a portion of the total odor signature identified in the Florida vehicle trunk is consistent with an early decompositional event that could be of human origin."

"Everyone picks up the phone and calls us when they have a question about decomposing bodies," Heffner said.

That's because this is the only place in the country that does this kind of research.

During a 2006 visit, there were 155 bodies scattered across the two-and-a-half-acre complex.

Bodies were being studied in various situations and in various stages of decomposition.

In one study requested by the FBI, they wanted to see the effects a body had decomposing in the trunk of a car.

"They wanted to know specifically the effects of decomposition on hair," Heffner said.

During the visit, researchers said chemicals released by a body give investigators clues, even if the body isn't there.

They started doing testing for Anthony's case before Caylee's remains were ever found.

But how large of a part will it ultimately play into the trial?

"I've said this a million times," said Jose Baez, Anthony's lead defense attorney. "Every aspect of the case is important."

What will be big for Baez and the rest of Anthony's defense team is to make sure a report and the four scientists who wrote it never see the inside of Judge Belvin Perry's courtroom.

The Body Farm science is fairly new. Air samples from a car trunk have never been introduced as evidence in any murder case.

To be admitted, the evidence would have to pass a legal standard known as the "Frye Test."

That's one of the things Anthony's lawyers are doing in Tennessee -- getting ammunition to keep these tests out of court and they won't be wasting any time.

"After the research, we write the motion and we file it. So, it could be weeks. It could be a month or so," Baez said.

There are other tests and other experts the defense will eventually refute as well.

"I expect a vigorous defense will be put on," Baez said. "We're excited and you all will see what the Baez smirk has been about all along."

For now, we're left with few clues about their strategy to save Anthony's life.

Anthony's defense team will begin its first of four scheduled depositions at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

They're not expected to finish until late Wednesday morning.