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Casey Anthony Trial Update: Closing arguments continue after contentious Sunday

Casey Anthony Trial Update: Closing arguments continue after contentious Sunday
Casey Anthony reacts while listening to the state's closing arguments in her murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, July 3, 2011.
AP Photo

(CBS/WKMG/AP) ORLANDO, Fla. - Closing arguments in the Casey Anthony murder trial spilled over onto a second day after hours of contentious arguments on Sunday.

Pictures: Casey and Caylee Anthony, Personal Photos.

When closing arguments approached 7 p.m. on Sunday, Judge Belvin Perry sent the jurors home for the night, opting to hold court on Independence Day, reports CBS affiliate WKMG.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton began his rebuttal argument just after 8:30 a.m. today..

"Defense counsel offered a very appropriate and aggressive attack on the science," Ashton said, telling the jury it's up to them which experts they will believe.

In his closing arguments, lead defense attorney Jose Baez described the state's evidence as a "fantasy of forensics." Specifically targeting medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia. Defense expert Dr. Werner Spitz said Garavaglia botched Caylee Anthony's autopsy.

Ashton defended Garavaglia's testimony, saying it is extremely rare for a skull and mandible to be attached after a body decomposed, which Caylee's was. Ashton said the only viable explanation is that duct tape had been placed on Caylee's face before she decomposed.

"That tape had to have been on that skull before she decomposed," Ashton said.

In his closing arguments on Sunday, Ashton said Casey Anthony killed Caylee by strategically placing three pieces of duct tape over Caylee's mouth and nose, causing her to suffocate.

Spitz proposed that someone at a later point had reached down, picked up the skull and mandible and put them back together with duct tape.

Ashton called Spitz's testimony "non credible" and inconsistent with the defense's own theories.

Spitz also testified that it was sloppy of Garavaglia not to saw open Caylee's skull, but when Ashton pressed him on this, Spitz was unable to give any example of written protocol that medical examiner's should saw open a skull under these circumstances.

Two state experts testified that it is unnecessary and excessive to saw open a skull.

Spitz also testified that residue of brain decomposition was found in Caylee's skull, but Ashton said Dr. Bruce Goldberger had already washed the inside of Caylee's skull, tested it, and found no evidence of decomposition.

"His fund of information about this case is not sufficient to make his testimony credible," Ashton said.

Ashton then moved on to the entomological evidence in the case, which Baez had also refuted during his closing arguments.

Ashton bolstered the testimony of state entomological expert Dr. Neal Haskell, citing his decades of experience, versus three years of experience for the defense's expert, Dr. Tim Huntington.

Ashton noted that both entomologists agreed that Caylee began decomposing in a different location than where she was later found in a wooded area off Suburban Drive, less than a quarter-mile from the Anthony family's east Orange County home.

The experts disagreed that Caylee had begun decomposing in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car. Haskell believed that Caylee spent several days in the trunk, but Huntington disagreed, based on a lack of evidence of early colonizing insects in the trunk. Haskell said the trunk kept the bugs out.

Ashton then began discussing chloroform evidence that had been refuted by Baez.

Baez harshly criticized the testimony of Dr. Arpad Vass, of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Vass testified that chloroform levels from air samples taken from the trunk of Casey Anthony's car was surprisingly high. He also said the air samples showed compounds consistent with human decomposition.

Ashton emphasized that there should not have been any chloroform in the trunk at all, but there was.

The next topic attacked by the defense that Ashton addressed was the smell of human decomposition in the trunk.

Baez criticized Vass, saying that he was pushing his "sniffer" device that indicated human decomposition in an air sample in order to make money off the sale of the device.

Ashton said the device was designed for use by the military and law enforcement. He said Vass would split 15 percent of the amount of the sale of the device with his co-inventors only if the device was purchased by someone in the private sector. He described Vass as an unapologetic geek, who is interested in the science.

Defense expert Dr. Kenneth Furton said the decomposition in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car was not necessarily human, and could have been a result of the trash that was also found in the trunk.

No DNA was found on the duct tape found on Caylee's skull, a point Baez brought up on Monday, but Ashton said experts agree it would be highly unlikely to find DNA on the duct tape after Caylee's body had fully decomposed in a Florida swamp for six months.

Baez also challenged a state expert witness' testimony that hair banding found on hairs in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car indicated they had come from a decomposing body.

"To say that there is no evidence to connect Casey Anthony to Caylee's death ignores all of this evidence," Ashton said.

During his closing arguments, Baez repeatedly brought up reasonable doubt, and reminded jurors that if they had any, they could not responsibly find Casey Anthony guilty.

Ashton said both sides agree that the duct tape found on Caylee's face came from the Anthony family home, but the defense suggested that the duct tape belonged to Casey Anthony's father, and was linked to him, not Casey Anthony.

"People don't make accidents look like murder. That's absurd," Ashton said.

Baez objected to Ashton's statement and was sustained. The comment was stricken the jury was told to disregard.

Ashton criticized the defense's theory that Caylee drowned and George Anthony had placed duct tape on her face and disposed of her body on June 16, 2008. He said the defense implied that when George Anthony reported gas cans, which had the same Henkel duct tape on them that was found on Caylee, stolen on June 24, it was part of a nefarious plot to implicate Casey Anthony in Caylee's death.

Ashton said the theory does not make sense.

"George Anthony had absolutely no idea that that roll of Henkel duct tape had anything to do with the death of his granddaughter," Ashton said.

Ashton said George Anthony denied that he knew Caylee drowned, or that he had found her dead in the family pool. Ashton said Casey Anthony rejected that theory as well by choosing not to testify.

Ashton then rejected Baez's allegations that the scene where Caylee's remains were found on Dec. 11, 2008, was staged.

"This scene was staged by mother nature, and no one else," Ashton said.

Ashton cited the leaf litter and vine growth all over the area, including vines that had grown into bone.

Ashton defended meter reader Roy Kronk, who found Caylee's remains. Baez attacked Kronk because he had reported finding a possible skull in August 2008 in the same location that he found Caylee's remains in December. Kronk said he was blown off by the deputy sent out to investigate, and didn't bother reporting it again until he was in the area again.

Baez accused Kronk of taking Caylee's body home, and staging it later in the woods to obtain reward money. Ashton said Kronk simply enjoys a good story, but it does not make him a "morally bankrupt" man, as Baez had said.

Ashton then went on to outline the charges against Casey Anthony.

Ashton said the prosecution has proven that Casey Anthony is guilty of first-degree murder. He said the criteria for that is that Caylee is dead, as a result of a criminal act by Casey Anthony and that the act was premeditated.

Following the state's rebuttal argument, the jury is expected to receive its instructions and begin deliberating to determine Casey Anthony's guilt on seven individual charges.

Only 12 of the 17 jurors brought in from Pinellas County will participate in deliberations. Five of the jurors are not yet aware that they are alternates.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

Anthony also is charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. The child abuse and manslaughter charges each carry a 30-year prison term if she's convicted.

The Casey Anthony case was recently reported on by "48 Hours Mystery."

Complete coverage of Casey Anthony on Crimesider

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