6/04/2011

Casey Anthony Trial - Here is What the State Has To Do To Prove Its Case Under Florida Law

In the Casey Anthony trial, the prosecution must provide the jury with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the crimes for which she was charged were indeed committed by defendant Casey Anthony.  I'm providing two helpful links here for those wanting to follow along with the trial as the state puts on its case.

What Casey Anthony Has Been Charged With - First Degree Murder, Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child

From a CNN article, I found a listing of the grand jury indictment's seven counts:  Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four (4) counts of providing false information to police.  First degree murder in Florida carries the possibility of the death penalty (see below).

(By the way, when I found this article I re-read something that I had forgot:  Casey was arrested after she switched cars under an overpass shortly after the indictment came down - wow.  Forgot all about that one.)

Florida Prosecutors Burden: What They Must Prove With Admitted Evidence To Win Their Case

The Florida Supreme Court's website includes the current jury instructions that are to be used in Florida criminal trials. From these instructions you can find each prong of the case, or element of the crime, that must be shown by the reasonable doubt standard.  Just surf through. 
  • You can read the section under Homicide and get an idea of the prosecution's duty here, it's in somewhat of an outline format but easy enough for following along with the current proceedings. 
  • Search the Florida Supreme Court's instructions to find First Degree Murder as well as Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child: Florida Supreme Court - Jury Instructions. 
For First Degree Murder, for example, you will find:

"There are two ways in which a person may be convicted of first degree murder. One is known as premeditated murder and the other is known as felony murder.

"To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

"1. (Victim) is dead.  (State will have to put in evidence that Caylee Marie Anthony is dead.)

"2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant). (State will have to put in evidence that Casey caused Caylee's death and this was by a criminal act.)

"3. There was a premeditated killing of (victim). (State will have to put in evidence that this was premeditated.)

"Definitions.

"An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

“Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing. The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing. "

    What are jury instructions? 

    Jury instructions take the actual statutes and place them into a format for the jury to use in their deliberations, as they assess the evidence presented to them.  There is a charge conference between the lawyers and the judge (at least that's what we do here in Texas), where the jury instructions are debated by the lawyers and after arguments, finalized by the judge.  The charge will include the instuctions as well as question like you hear on Law n Order all the time:  "how do you find" type of thing.

    For example, here is the Florida statute for murder which can result in a life sentence or the death penalty which you can see dovetailed into the Jury Instructions for Homicide (above):

    Florida Statutes 782.04


    Murder.—
    (1)(a) The unlawful killing of a human being:
    1. When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being;
    2. When committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
    a. Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
    b. Arson,
    c. Sexual battery,
    d. Robbery,
    e. Burglary,
    f. Kidnapping,
    g. Escape,
    h. Aggravated child abuse,
    i. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
    j. Aircraft piracy,
    k. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
    l. Carjacking,
    m. Home-invasion robbery,
    n. Aggravated stalking,
    o. Murder of another human being,
    p. Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person,
    q. Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism; or
    3. Which resulted from the unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a)4., opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or methadone by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,

    is murder in the first degree and constitutes a capital felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082.
    (b) In all cases under this section, the procedure set forth in s. 921.141 shall be followed in order to determine sentence of death or life imprisonment. (emphasis added)
    (2) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    (3) When a person is killed in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
    (a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
    (b) Arson,
    (c) Sexual battery,
    (d) Robbery,
    (e) Burglary,
    (f) Kidnapping,
    (g) Escape,
    (h) Aggravated child abuse,
    (i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
    (j) Aircraft piracy,
    (k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
    (l) Carjacking,
    (m) Home-invasion robbery,
    (n) Aggravated stalking,
    (o) Murder of another human being,
    (p) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or
    (q) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

    by a person other than the person engaged in the perpetration of or in the attempt to perpetrate such felony, the person perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate such felony is guilty of murder in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    (4) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated without any design to effect death, by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any felony other than any:
    (a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
    (b) Arson,
    (c) Sexual battery,
    (d) Robbery,
    (e) Burglary,
    (f) Kidnapping,
    (g) Escape,
    (h) Aggravated child abuse,
    (i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
    (j) Aircraft piracy,
    (k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
    (l) Unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a)4., or opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,
    (m) Carjacking,
    (n) Home-invasion robbery,
    (o) Aggravated stalking,
    (p) Murder of another human being,
    (q) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or
    (r) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

    is murder in the third degree and constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    (5) As used in this section, the term “terrorism” means an activity that:
    (a)1. Involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life which is a violation of the criminal laws of this state or of the United States; or
    2. Involves a violation of s. 815.06; and
    (b) Is intended to:
    1. Intimidate, injure, or coerce a civilian population;
    2. Influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    3. Affect the conduct of government through destruction of property, assassination, murder, kidnapping, or aircraft piracy.
    History.—s. 2, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2380; GS 3205; RGS 5035; s. 1, ch. 8470, 1921; CGL 7137; s. 1, ch. 28023, 1953; s. 712, ch. 71-136; s. 3, ch. 72-724; s. 14, ch. 74-383; s. 6, ch. 75-298; s. 1, ch. 76-141; s. 290, ch. 79-400; s. 1, ch. 82-4; s. 1, ch. 82-69; s. 1, ch. 84-16; s. 6, ch. 87-243; ss. 2, 4, ch. 89-281; s. 4, ch. 90-112; s. 3, ch. 93-212; s. 11, ch. 95-195; s. 18, ch. 96-322; s. 1, ch. 98-417; s. 10, ch. 99-188; s. 16, ch. 2000-320; s. 2, ch. 2001-236; s. 2, ch. 2001-357; s. 1, ch. 2002-212; s. 12, ch. 2005-128; s. 1, ch. 2010-121.

    15 comments:

    Reba Kennedy said...

    Hi Anonymous,
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you about Judge Perry. I have the utmost respect for his work in this case.

    As for Frye, this is a landmark decision that has led to a series of cases as well as evidence rules dealing with how experts are qualified to give testimony as well as the scope upon which they are allowed to give opinion.

    Lengthy hearings are held before trial dealing specifically with the experts and their testimony. Frye hearings were held in the Anthony case in March.

    I have been responsible for many an expert challenge in my career - on both sides. In civil matters, we don't reference Frye, we reference Daubert. Goal is the same, to keep hired gun experts off the stand and to keep junk science away from the factfinder.

    Experts are allowed to base their opinions on things that would not be admissible as evidence on their own. In both civil and criminal matters, experts can rely on hearsay, secondary sources, and the like in the formation of their opinions as long as it is a reasonable reliance. This is Evidence 101.

    To have the Judge actually telling the lawyers to go and read the Evidence Handbook over lunch is slapping the hands of the lawyers, and rightfully so.

    The expert testimony decisions should have been handled in the Frye hearings in March, not at trial where the jury's time is protected.

    Thanks for writing,
    Reba

    Anonymous said...

    Baez is unqualified and ineffective in this case especially since Judge Perry seems to be a part of the prosecution rather than the impartial over=seer making sure that rules and standards of evidence are adhered to. see Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013, to understand State's Expert witness evidence inadmissible under Florida Law. I doubt that Baez will be successful in entering in the testimony that Vass identified Human Decomposition 4-5 times previously and all of them turned to to animals not human remaint - 100% wrong.

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    Reba Kennedy said: "Hi Anonymous,
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you about Judge Perry. I have the utmost respect for his work in this case."


    He's allowing witchdoctor testimony into the trial. This isn't science, unless you believe that Harry Potter is science.

    Here's why the dog-sniff 'evidence' isn't evidence:

    Explosive- and drug-sniffing dog performance is affected by their handlers' beliefs (LINK)

    UC Davis study finds detection dogs may exhibit the 'Clever Hans' effect.

    This case is now totally stupid.

    Reba Kennedy said...

    Two comments: personal perspective and legal comment.

    1. Personal

    No human is perfect, no lab test goes without being checked for accuracy, dogs won't be perfect, either.

    That's why they had two separate dogs check the yard independently, with two different handlers.

    Sure, dogs will try to please their handlers. Experts may be biased toward the defense. Lab results may be flawed.

    I've raised and trained dogs for over 20 years, and I respect their abilities. I've seen search and rescue efforts that depended upon these dogs - who go through an amazing amount of training after being culled for their unique abilities, not all dogs can do this job.

    A child is missing, an elderly loved one goes wandering off: those dogs save lives. No one's challenging their abilities then, they're demanding for search and rescue to hurry.

    No. Those dogs are viable evidence, and that evidence comes in.

    2. Legally

    The system does not give all evidence equal respect. The jury can weigh that evidence and decide how much they will rely upon it to make their decision.

    That's a different thing - weighing the evidence by the factfinder.

    But the dogs' alerts in the Anthony backyard, that evidence gets in the jury room. It's been recognized by many states as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The question is how the foundation is placed into the record before the evidence is admitted. The prosecution has gone to great lengths to meet the evidence standards discussed by the Florida Supreme Court in the following case (which has been appealled by AG Bondi to the USSSCt).

    http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2011/sc08-1871.pdf

    Dog sniffing evidence is recognized under the law. As it should be.

    Thanks for writing,
    Reba

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    "Dog sniffing evidence is recognized under the law. As it should be."

    After over 200 failures? Not b**** likely. It's BS.

    Reba Kennedy said...

    Voice,
    I've taken the time to give you Florida high court precedent as well as information that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized this type of evidence as well. It's a 2005 case if you want to take the time to pull it and read it.

    What you have provided is a link to a single UCal-Davis research study.

    You may not agree with the law, but it's the law nevertheless.

    Thanks for writing,
    Reba

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    And these:

    "The Reliable Magic Sniffing Dog"

    Dec. 2, 2009; Dec. 17, 2009; July 28, 2010; and Aug. 4, 2010.

    And

    Legally Speaking: Scents and Sensibility-When Evidence Doesn't Pass the Smell Test (Postscript)

    Not to mention this:

    From "Fraudulent Use of Canines in Police Work" by Daniel A. Smith
    Lincoln Park Police Department

    Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson has been charged with murdering his wife, Laci, and unborn son Connor in California. Tracking dogs from the California Rescue Dog Association, handled by civilians were brought in days after Laci’s disappearance. Scent matching was used by the handlers to attempt to find Laci and trace her path leading from her house. One dog handler claimed Laci was driven in a car for miles to the marina Scott Peterson claimed he went fishing from. The handler testified that her dog tracked down the middle of the road to the marina and then stared out at the water telling the handler that Laci was out there. (National Enquirer Jan. 6, 2004 David Wright).
    Terry Shoenbach said “This whole K-9 case of these dogs reference the Scott Peterson case is outrageous, fraudulent, and in my opinion criminal. If I didn’t think Peterson was guilty, I would call Mark Gerragos (Scott Peterson’s attorney) and offer to discredit all of the so-called dog evidence against Peterson. These dog handlers’ testimonies are so incredible, that I would be, for the first time in my career, a witness for the defense”.

    Reba Kennedy said...

    Voice,

    Whether or not these references were addressed in the March 2010 evidence hearings, or if the defense used others, could be found by reviewing the transcripts from those hearings. Perhaps Websleuths has stored those transcripts online; I haven't searched for them.

    Again, the dog evidence is admissible in Florida as long as the proper foundation is placed into the record - which was done. The two independent dog alerts at different times is part of that foundation.

    You are finding secondary source material that in some instances isn't applicable because it isn't from Florida and in other instances isn't relevant b/c it can be distinquished. The Fort Bend Deputy, for example, fudged on his background, the training of his bloodhounds, etc. Nothing has been suggested in the Anthony case that the K9 evidence is hinky in any way.

    Obviously, we do not agree on the reliablity of dog evidence.

    The point in the Anthony case is that it has been recognized by Florida, and the state prosecution has followed the necessary protocols to have the two alerts admitted.

    The defense had the object to challenge this in March and again at trial. If they want to challenge on appeal again, they can. But that record was solid, it's not a winable point of error for them.

    Thanks for writing,
    Reba

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    By the same 'standard' you could admit 'evidence' from psychics and astrologers. It doesn't comply with Daubert, but then that's Florida for you.

    Daubert and the Florida Rules of Evidence

    Maybe one day they'll come into the 20th Century, if not the 21st.

    Reba Kennedy said...

    The Frye hearings took place in March 2011 before Judge Perry and they can be viewed in their entirety at more than one website.

    I assume that Websleuths may have transcripts of the hearings stored at their forum repository, as well.

    Florida follows Frye and not Daubert in criminal matters.

    If there are Florida Supreme Court standards for the admission of particular kinds of evidence, like the dogs, then that opinion controls the admissibility of that evidence.

    Frye and Daubert are two different standards of admissibility of expert testimony and opinion.

    Under Frye, the judge rules based upon a "general acceptance" standard. It's considered an easier hurdle to jump than Daubert.

    Not only does Judge Perry have years of experience with Frye from his years on the bench, he has an awareness that his papers are going to be graded if this case goes up on appeal.

    Especially since this is a death case, the Judge is going to make sure that the record is clear ... heck, he's even reading case law into the record during his decisions on the trial bench.

    In my experience, judges rule - they don't take the time to explain the law upon which they're basing their decisions. After all, they are the judge. It's a big deal that he's taking the time to read precedent into the record in addition to the citations.

    He's also being very patient with the defense, giving Mr. Baez sidebar after sidebar along with giving him explanations from the bench on more than one occasion on why an objection is being sustained.

    This Judge is well aware of the record, he's smart and savvy. He's working hard to have a solid record here so his rulings aren't overturned.

    If anything, he's helping the appellate court understand what his decisions are based on now, as they are being made, so the appellate review process will be easier.

    If you question his rulings in the Frye hearings, then I suggest that you go listen to those proceedings. Judge Perry has probably given lots of detail on the reasons for each ruling he made in that part of the case record.

    Thanks for writing,
    Reba

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    Then the USA is doomed. When junk science is considered valid the whole legal system has failed, and failed miserably. I suggest you read this

    http://www.post-gazette.com/win/

    and then look at the miserable failures of far too much forensic 'evidence' (such as lead bullet 'analysis') that has been offered in courts.

    Anonymous said...

    Casey Anthony is guilty. Every parent who has a child of under 3, knows where they are at all times. So if she is not convicted, I guess you can get away with muder, but not a traffic ticket.

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    Anonymous said: "Casey Anthony is guilty. Every parent who has a child of under 3, knows where they are at all times. So if she is not convicted, I guess you can get away with muder, but not a traffic ticket."

    As I said, dumb as a sack of rocks.

    Anonymous said...

    Dear Voice,
    Is this Jose Baez??

    A Voice of Sanity said...

    Why would Jose post here saying "Casey Anthony is guilty."?