Witness tampering alleged at Casey Anthony trial - FOX 35 News Orlando

Witness tampering alleged at Casey Anthony trial

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Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings announced Tuesday that authorities were looking into witness tampering allegations during Casey Anthony's murder trial, even as he held a wide-ranging news conference with his top investigators in what he said was an effort to bring closure to a case that polarized the country.

Demings also revealed that prosecutors were considering perjury charges against Anthony's mother, but a spokeswoman for the state attorney's office later said they would not be pursued.

Casey Anthony was acquitted a week ago on charges of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. Anthony was found guilty on four charges of lying to law enforcement officers. She is to be released from jail Sunday.

The sheriff held the news conference to defend his investigation and because his office had been besieged with interview requests since the verdict.

"The ultimate goal ... is that our personnel can get back to work doing the business of the taxpayers and residents of Orange County," Demings said. "This is the only way that we can move forward."

Demings wouldn't say who was accused of witness tampering, but it didn't involve Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy. She stunned prosecutors during the trial when she testified that she had done searches for chloroform on the family's computer. Prosecutors believed, along with sheriff's investigators, that Anthony had performed the search.

Witnesses were later called to challenge Cindy Anthony's claim, and in the days after the verdict, prosecutors hinted at possibly charging her.

The government presented evidence at trial that chloroform was found in Anthony's car trunk and insinuated that she could have used it to render Caylee unconscious.

As for the alleged witness tampering, detective John Allen would only say the sheriff's office has interviewed some witnesses.

"In regards to where we will go, it really depends on what information we get and what people come forward to provide additional information," Allen said.

Demings said his agency has received numerous requests for information from individuals who are in the process or writing books about the controversial case.

"We simply cannot respond to all of those requests," said Sheriff Demings. "It makes us somewhat dysfunctional as an agency to do that. It distracts our personnel from doing the jobs that they really are entrusted to do within this community."

The investigators at the news conference sat at a table alongside a blown-up picture of Caylee. The sheriff said it was a reminder of what his investigators were pursuing during the three-year case that dominated his resources.

"This is what this was all about," Demings said. "It was about a missing child. That's what motivated our staff and our community." 

 Demings said his office followed up on more than 600 tips and worked with more than 100 FBI agents. He said he is still in the process of working with his accounting department to total up substantial investigative costs. Prosecutors want Anthony to incur those costs because they said the lies she was convicted of telling investigators directly led to the expenditures.

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"Obviously those were resources that could have been put toward finding other missing children," Allen said.

Texas Equusearch, the private group that conducted several searches for Caylee in 2008, filed a lawsuit against Anthony on Tuesday, seeking $15,000 for what it spent on searches. The lawsuit claimed Anthony made misrepresentations to the group's founder, causing extensive, costly and time-consuming searches for Caylee.

Anthony's defense said Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool. Anthony's partying and shopping during the month before he daughter was reported missing was caused in part by her father's sexual abuse, her attorneys said.

George Anthony has denied the claims, and investigators said Tuesday they were rebuffed by Anthony's defense team when they tried to interview her about the molestation allegations.

Allen and the case's lead detective, Yuri Melich, said they wouldn't do anything differently in the case, despite not winning a conviction.

"Ultimately, it's up to the jury to decide," Melich said. "We respect that and honor that."

When asked about the theory presented by Anthony’s defense team that Caylee's death was an accidental drowning, Melich said it was, “Not really surprising for them to come up with something new… for them to come up with this story at the eleventh hour about the drowning.” He added, “I cant say it shocked us.”

“We covered a lot of this,” said Allen. “We asked whether or not this was an accident. Everyone insisted she had been kidnapped by 'Zanny the Nanny.' What followed was an enormous search… 6,000 leads.”

In response to the Anthony defense team's theories which were meant to debunk forensic work done by law enforcement, crime scene investigator Gerardo Bloise said, “This is a real forensic work. We are proud as a forensic unit to develop and establish good custody of the evidence. This is not fantasy. Even the defense didn't have problem with the evidence I submitted.”

The sheriff did acknowledge that finding Caylee's remains earlier could have built a stronger case. The remains were found by a meter reader in December 2008, six months after Caylee was reported missing. The meter reader initially called authorities as early as August about seeing what might have been a skull in the woods.

Demings was asked about rumors that Roy Kronk, the meter reader who discovered Caylee’s remains, learned of the little girl’s location through a tip from the Orange County Jail and that Kronk knew more than what was released to the public.

“I think that's speculation on somebody’s part,” said Demings. “I think the only person that definitely can tell you where the body was, was the person who put it there.”

Demings said the investigator called out after the meter reader's report no longer works at the sheriff's office, and he believed authorities correctly focused on Anthony.

"I certainly don't have any doubt," Allen said. "... I think our work was solid."

 

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings hosted the event with Captain Angelo Nieves moderating questions.

In attendance were:

Sergeant John Allen; Criminal Investigations Division
Corporal Yuri Melich; Criminal Investigation Division
Corporal Eric Edwards; Criminal Investigation Division
Ron Murdock; Forensics Supervisor
CSI Gerardo Bloise; Forensics
Deputy Jason Forgey; K-9
Deputy Sandra Osborne; Computer Crimes

 

www.caseyanthonymurdertrial.com

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