Anthony defense expert: Car smell was from trashORLANDO, Fla. — A defense expert testified Friday at the Casey Anthony murder trial, saying the stench from the trunk of the woman's car came from a bag of trash, not the decaying body of her 2-year-old daughter she is accused of killing.
By: By Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
ORLANDO, Fla. — A defense expert testified Friday at the Casey Anthony murder trial, saying the stench from the trunk of the woman's car came from a bag of trash, not the decaying body of her 2-year-old daughter she is accused of killing.
University of Nebraska forensic entomologist Timothy Huntington also said the stain on the carpet of in the trunk of Anthony's car did not resemble human decomposition stains he has previously seen.
“The evidence doesn't make sense that there was a body in the trunk,” said Huntington, whose testimony came on the second day of defense witnesses. Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Caylee in the summer of 2008. The child's skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area not far from her grandparents’ home in December of that year.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty. She faces a possible death sentence if convicted. The prosecution contends the toddler was suffocated by duct tape placed over her nose and mouth. The defense said in its opening statement that she drowned in her grandparents’ swimming pool.
Huntington was a pivotal defense witness, following testimony last week by the prosecution's entomology expert Neal Haskell.
Haskell said he found only a small number of bugs on the toddler's remains in the woods and on paper towels inside Anthony's trunk; Huntington told jurors that he would have expected to see hundreds of dead insects if Caylee had been stored in the trunk.
Hunting said his testimony was based in part on research he conducted about what happened to decomposing pigs inside car trunks.
In that research, which took place in September 2010 in Nebraska, Huntington put dead pigs in the trunks of cars and observed them as they decomposed. He referenced finding blow flies, or the first type of flies drawn to decomposing material, soon after death. He also noted the presence of a pronounced stain of decomposition fluid on the carpeting of his test trunk.
He said he would expect to see the same things in a trunk with a decomposing human body.
“If we assume that a body was in the (Anthony) trunk, you expect to find many flies,” Huntington said. “... I would expect to find hundreds, thousands of those dead insects as I did in the experiment.”
Huntington described the decomposition fluid he observed in the pig experiment as distinct.
“It is a sticky, greasy, disgusting material,” he said. “Once it soaks in there, I'm not sure a professional cleaner could get it out.”
Prosecutor Jeff Ashton attacked Huntington's conclusions on cross-examination. He got Huntington to acknowledge that Haskell's report that wherever the body was before it was taken to the woods was likely around three days. Huntington also said it was possible the body was inaccessible to the blow flies he described observing in the pig experiment.
Huntington also said that in his 75 consultations in homicides with law enforcement, that other than his pig experiment, this was the first actual case or case study he had encountered where a child's decomposing body was suspected to have been in a car trunk.
“So we can assume none of the studies involved wrapping a child in a blanket, stuffing the child in two plastic bags and a laundry bag?” Ashton said.
Huntington said the studies did not involve those things.
Ashton's voice rose at times throughout the testimony and earlier in the day when he and defense attorney Jose Baez tried to talk over each other while arguing an issue with the jury outside the courtroom. It caused Judge Belvin Perry to step in.
“I don't care if Mr. Baez is standing on his head or one leg. Let's stick to the facts and be professional,” Perry said.
Later in the afternoon during another testy moment, Perry had to call all attorneys up for a sidebar to calm things down.