Day 8: Jury sees Casey Anthony jailhouse videos, hears lies at Universal

By Jacqueline Fell, Adam Longo and Kelli Cook, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, June 02, 2011
Audio Evidence

Prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder trial have begun showing the jury hours of recorded visitations with Casey at the Orange County Jail.

The jury learned that Casey was arrested on July 16, 2008, after she lied to Orange County detectives about working at Universal Orlando Resort while attempting to lead them to her missing 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Casey, 25, is on trial for her daughter's murder, but her lawyers said Caylee actually drowned in the family swimming pool.

On Thursday, the defense said it wanted to introduce a new witness, a grief counselor named Dr. Sally Karioth, to explain Casey's behavior after Caylee allegedly drowned.

The potential witness may be the same Dr. Karioth listed as a professor at Florida State University's College of Nursing.


Video visitations
Lee Anthony

Two of the videos showed Casey's brother, Lee. In the first, he explained the rules of jail visitations to her, and then tried to get any clues out of her as to where Caylee's alleged nanny might have taken the little girl.

During the first video, Lee was very critical of Casey's lawyer, Jose Baez. He asked how Casey ended up hiring him, and she told him his name came up in booking.

Baez asked for a mistrial, saying those statements were irrelevant, and would cause the jury to prejudge his client. But Judge Belvin Perry reminded Baez he had a deadline in December 2010 to bring up his concerns about the video.

Lee also told Casey if she wrote him a letter, he would not share it with anyone. In both videos, he grilled her about people he could trust outside of jail. Casey told him he could definitely trust their mother, Cindy, and her friend, Amy Huizenga. She was on the fence about her boyfriend, Tony Lazzaro, and immediately said no to her ex-boyfriend, Jesse Grund.

Casey's brother also asked Casey where he should look for clues. She suggested looking on the family computer, and tried to give him her login information. But Lee told her that login was wrong, causing Casey to get frustrated.

George and Cindy Anthony

When Casey's parents visited her on July 25, 2008, the first thing Cindy said to her was, "I love you. Are you OK?" She also told Casey that "the whole United States is looking for our Caylee," and her picture would soon be on the cover of People magazine.

Cindy began asking Casey if she thought "Zanny" was acting by herself. But Casey told her she had nothing to go on besides what she has already told detectives.

Casey told her parents she wants other people following up on leads, not just deputies. Cindy said she heard Caylee had been spotted at Orlando International Airport with the nanny. That lead turned out to be false.

Casey also told her mother to give a message to Zenaida: She forgave her, but "she needs to give Caylee back."

She also had a message to tell Caylee: "Mommy loves her very much. Be brave."

Later in the video, Casey admitted to stealing from both Cindy and Amy Huizenga "out of desperation." But when George asked if Casey had borrowed anything that she didn't tell anyone about, she said no.

Casey also gave her parents a detailed description of Zenaida Gonzalez: 5 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall; about 140 pounds, and tan with brown eyes.

She also said she did not want to tell detectives Yuri Melich or John Allen any more information, because they belittle her and did not follow up on the information she gave.

When Cindy Anthony asked what Casey's gut feeling was, she said she believed Caylee was close.

"She's not far. I know in my heart she's not far," said Casey.


Prosecution phase halfway done?

Before court adjourned Wednesday, prosecutors told Judge Belvin Perry they were nearing the halfway point of their case, and could be down to about 20 witnesses by the end of the week.

Thursday marks the eighth day of testimony. The state said it is ready to let the jury watch videos of Casey's jailhouse conversations with her family while the search was still on for 2-year-old Caylee.

Assistant state attorney Linda Drane Burdick said she wants to start showing the videos in chronological order no later than Friday.


Thursday's witnesses
Jeffrey Hopkins

In a short testimony, Hopkins said he and Casey were only "acquaintances" who first met in middle school.

Casey had told her mother that she met Caylee's nanny through Hopkins, a co-worker at Universal Orlando who previously left his son in the nanny's care before moving to Jacksonville

But on the witness stand Thursday, Hopkins said he hadn't worked at Universal since 2002, has never known a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez, never lived in Jacksonville, and didn't even have any children. He also said while he knew Casey had a daughter, he had never met Caylee.

Hopkins acknowledged seeing Casey at an Ale House in July 2008, but it was the first time they had seen each other in a long time. He also said Casey sent him mass text messages promoting the club Fusion.

Leonard Turtora

An assistant manager for loss prevention at Universal Orlando Resort, Turtora recalled meeting Casey on July 16, 2008, when she took deputies to the park to verify her employment.

Turtora, however, found out and confirmed that Casey had not worked at Universal since May 2006. When she did work there, she was employed by a third party called ColorVision.

Defense attorney Cheney Mason pointed out that Turtora still let Casey walk detectives through the park, even though he had already confirmed that she was lying about working there. Turtora said he did not want to get in the way of the detectives' investigation.

He said Detective Yuri Melich asked him to check three other people Casey claimed also worked at Universal: Jeff Hopkins, Juliette Lewis and Zenaida Gonzalez. Of those three, only Hopkins had ever worked at the theme park, but not since 2002.

Turtora said he was also asked about Casey's alleged manager, Thomas Manley. He said no one by that name worked at Universal.

Yuri Melich

The lead detective said he walked Casey through Universal Orlando before she turned to him and admitted she did not work there.

From there, he said he brought her into a small conference room on resort property and interviewed her again. Prosecutors played that interview, which ran about an hour, to the jury:

Melich reaffirmed that Casey was not a suspect at that time. He said he could not imagine what would inspire Casey to lie, but Casey "walked with purpose" through Universal, so he let her keep lying to see if there was an explanation at some point.

According to detectives, Melich received more than 6,000 tips about "sightings" of Caylee Anthony, but he never found the Zenaida Gonzalez described by Casey.

The prosecution also showed Melich a list of items of Caylee's that he collected from the Anthonys' home, including toothbrushes, a hair brush, comb and thermometer.

During cross-examination, Jose Baez noted Melich's habit of turning toward the jury when he answered a question. He asked if Melich was trained to do this. But Melich said he did so because the jurors are the ones who decide the case.

Baez asked why Melich never confronted Casey about the family pool, even after her mother, Cindy, told him about the ladder down and the gate open. Melich pointed out that during the questioning at Universal, Sgt. John Allen suggested a possible drowning, but Casey kept saying Zenaida kidnapped Caylee.