(CBS) ORLANDO, Fla. - It's not clear that the witness will ever be called to the stand, but Casey Anthony trial watchers are abuzz about the possibility that a former Orange County jail inmate named April Whelan might play an 11th hour role in the murder case.
Earlier today, defense attorney Jose Baez complained to the presiding judge, Belvin Perry Jr., that prosecutors had just given him an indication that they could use in court a conversation that Whelan had - and which Casey Anthony may have heard from an adjacent cell - about the death of Whelan's child by drowning in her family pool. Whelan's father apparently retrieved the body of the child.
The scenario bears a strong similarity to the defense claims, made in opening statements, that Casey Anthony's father George found two-year-old Caylee's body in the family pool and got Casey to participate in a cover-up of the accidental death.
The defense has conceded that Casey was a habitual liar and previous testimony has shown that Casey's lies had often been grounded in a nugget of truth. The Whelan story has piqued interest because of that. Judge Perry has left the door open for Whelan to testify but there's been no indication from prosecutors that she will do that.
Today, defense expert Dr. Richard Eichlenbloom has been on the stand talking about tests he performed on the duct tape found near Caylee Anthony's skull. He says he found no trace DNA on the tape. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton has tried to discredit Eichlenbloom's "science," his methods and his motives. What the jury doesn't know is that Ashton was among the first prosecutors, in 1988 and 1989, to fight to admit DNA science as evidence.
Before Eichlenbloom's testimony, forensic botanist Dr. Jan Bock testified about the vegetation at the site where the body of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony was found. Under questioning by prosecutor Ashton, Bock admitted that she's now changed her opinion on the length of time the child's body was in the woods near the Anthony home. She's now saying it had been at the recovery site no less than two weeks before it was found. In an earlier deposition, Bock said it was impossible to tell.
Defense attorneys may have called Bock to the stand to lay the groundwork for the testimony of another witness -- Roy Kronk, a utility meter reader who called the Orange County, Florida sheriffs office several times about the whereabouts of the then-missing girl. Defense attorneys claim Kronk was after the reward money in the case. In opening statements, Jose Baez called Kronk "morally bankrupt" and suggested he may have played a role in hiding Caylee Anthony's body.
Casey Anthony could get the death penalty if she is found guilty of murdering her daughter.
Post contributed by Lisa Meyer-Steinhaus