(CBS) - Defense lawyers in the Casey Anthony murder trial could call their final witnesses this week, and if last week is any guide, it will be a contentious process with more than a sprinkling of drama.
It is widely expected that Casey's father George will be recalled to the stand by the defense to answer questions about his relationship with his daughter - a relationship which lead defense attorney Jose Baez has claimed was fraught with abuse. Baez claims it was this abuse, emotional and sexual, which led Casey Anthony to conceal details of her daughter Caylee's accidental drowning death.
The prosecution claims that Anthony murdered Caylee by suffocating her with duct tape.
It is also possible that Casey Anthony may testify in her own defense to bolster the abuse claims.
On Saturday, longtime forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz took the stand. Spitz, who consulted in the autopsies of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960's, called the Caylee Anthony autopsy "shoddy" and faulted the Orange County Coroner Dr. Jan Garavaglia for failing to open the skull of the young child during the procedure. Spitz testified that if that had not been done, he worries what other standard procedures had not been followed to determine the cause of death. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton suggested that there was no "there" there - that there was nothing in Caylee's skeletal remains for Dr. Garavaglia to open and examine. Ashton also implied that Dr. Spitz. who is in his 80s, may no longer be at the top of his game professionally.
The real conflict during Saturday's court session played out without the jury present. Judge Perry scolded lawyers on both sides for what he called "game playing" and he raised the specter of a possible contempt of court citation against defense attorney Baez. Baez called forensic anthropologist Dr. William Rodriguez to the stand but didn't get too far into his questioning of the witness before the judge stopped the process, amid impassioned protests by the defense.
With the jurors out of the courtroom, Rodriguez told the judge he intended to testify that he couldn't draw conclusions about the duct tape found with Caylee Anthony's remains. Baez knew of the anthropologist's conclusion. The prosecution did not. The defense is supposed to share this kind of information with prosecutors in advance, and to not do so is considered a breech of ethics and a violation of an order Judge Perry issued before the trial began. When Perry grilled Baez about the omission, the lawyer claimed he told prosecutors that Rodriguez would be called to refute testimony by their forensic pathologist and that that was clear warning. Judge Perry didn't buy the explanation saying, "Mr. Baez, this isn't my first rodeo." Perry didn't take any immediate action against the defense attorney and prosecutors were allowed to quiz Rodriguez about his findings after court adjourned. He is expected to take the stand for the defense today.
Casey Anthony is accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in the summer of 2008. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.
Post contributed by Lisa Meyer-Steinhaus.