ORLANDO, Fla. – The mother of a Florida woman charged in the death of her 2-year-old daughter cried and buried her face in her hands Tuesday as prosecutors played a series of 911 calls, including one that reported that the toddler had been missing for 31 days.
Cindy Anthony became emotional during the sixth day of testimony in the murder trial of her 25-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony. During the final 911 call played, Cindy Anthony said her daughter had just told her that her 2-year-old granddaughter, Caylee, had been missing for 31 days.
Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder and could be sentenced to death if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty and initially said a babysitter took the child. Her defense attorney now contends Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family's swimming pool. The prosecution says Caylee was suffocated by duct tape placed over her mouth.
The 911 calls solicited the most emotional witness testimony to date. On a handful of occasions, jurors could be seen glancing in the direction of Casey, who also cried several times during her mother's testimony. Jurors also looked toward Casey when the prosecution played a recording of her first call home from jail following her July 16, 2008, arrest.
Judge Belvin Perry stopped the proceedings twice for 5-minute recesses to allow Cindy Anthony her to regain composure. During one of the breaks, her husband, George Anthony, had to hold her up as they walked outside.
Minutes before listening to the 911 call in the courtroom, Cindy Anthony recounted how she had overheard Casey Anthony telling her brother that Caylee had been missing for a month
"I lost it," Cindy Anthony said between sobs. "I just went into the room and yelled at Casey, 'What do you mean she's been gone? Why didn't you tell us?'"
Later in the day, Casey's friend Amy Huizenga testified about witnessing an argument between Casey and her mother had when she tracked Casey down at her boyfriend's apartment July 15 — the same day of the 911 calls.
"It was very confrontational," Huizenga said. "A massive explosion of mother and daughter."
Huizenga also testified about text messages she exchanged with Casey in late June in which Casey spoke of needing to get rid of a "bad smell" in her car.
"There was definitely a dead animal plastered to the front of my car," Casey texted Huizenga.
Earlier in the morning, Cindy Anthony also testified about the car that Casey Anthony had been driving. The car was abandoned and then towed to a lot where her father picked it up in mid-July 2008. In the 911 call, Cindy Anthony described the odor in the car as that of a dead body. But she said Tuesday that it was merely an expression she used and at that moment she didn't think a body had been in the car.
Prosecutors contend the odor in the car came from human decomposition, but defense attorneys claim it was from rotting garbage.
Cindy Anthony said she opened the car's windows and trunk to air it out, and George Anthony took the battery out of the car because they feared Casey Anthony would return home and try to take the vehicle.
At the time the car was retrieved from the towing lot, Casey Anthony had refused to come home for several weeks, Cindy Anthony told jurors. Casey Anthony had told her mother in a phone call that she needed space.
Under cross-examination, Cindy Anthony described Casey as a "very loving, caring mother."
Defense attorney Jose Baez then questioned her about on the numerous people Casey had spoken of over the past three years that Cindy has since learned don't exist.
Part of the defense's theory is that Casey lived in an imaginary dream world, which helped to explain her erratic behavior during the month when Caylee is believed to have been missing. The prosecution has previously shown evidence of Casey shopping and partying during that time.
"I trusted Casey," Cindy Anthony said. "She never gave me any reason not to believe in her."
Baez also tried to bolster the defense's drowning theory. He asked her about numerous unanswered calls Casey placed to her mother on June 16 — the day they say the drowning took place.
Cindy Anthony admitted to seeing the gate to the pool unlocked that day, but also said it could only be locked from the inside. Under re-direct examination by state attorney Linda Drane Burdick, Cindy said Caylee was never able to open the gate.
"It was too tall for her," she said.
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