Casey Anthony's defense expected to rest case

KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
AP
Casey Anthony reacts as her father, George Anthony, testifies during her murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, June 29, 2011.  Casey Anthony,  25, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter,  2-year-old Caylee Anthony, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge.  (AP Photo/Red Huber, Pool)
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Casey Anthony reacts as her father, George Anthony, testifies during her murder trial in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. Casey Anthony, 25, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, and could face the death penalty if convicted of that charge. (AP Photo/Red Huber, Pool)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The defense for Casey Anthony was expected to rest Thursday after calling its final witnesses, though it's still not known if the central Florida mother will take the stand to answer questions about whether she killed her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

A woman who said she had an affair with Anthony's father was the first witness called Thursday. George Anthony has denied having an affair with Krystal Holloway, who also was a volunteer who helped search for his granddaughter in 2008. In testimony, George Anthony said that he knew Holloway as River Cruz and that he visited her home a handful of times in 2008, but only to comfort her as she coped with a brain tumor.

Holloway read from text messages George Anthony sent her and described the media frenzy surrounding their relationship and his family.

On Wednesday, the defense may have been dealt a blow when Casey Anthony's father broke into tears when telling jurors about his suicide attempt some six weeks after his granddaughter's body was found. Attorneys contend that Caylee did not die at the hands of her mother but accidentally drowned in her grandparents' pool, and that George Anthony helped cover it up.

In his Jan. 22, 2009, suicide note, he said he was trying to overdose because he had unanswered questions about what happened to Caylee and never alluded to knowing what caused her death. When pressed by prosecutors about why he tried to kill himself, he started crying and said, "I needed at that time to go and be with Caylee."

When asked by prosecutor Jeff Ashton if he expressed that in his note, he said, "Yes, I did. Because I believe that I had failed her," and broke into tears.

When her father was crying, Casey Anthony expressed no emotion, though earlier in the day she had been crying during other testimony.

The defense objected to prosecutors admitting the suicide note as evidence. Ashton explained that the defense had brought up the suicide attempt and that the note shows when George Anthony tried to kill himself, he "had no idea who killed Caylee Marie Anthony. It rebuts implications by the defense that he did."

If the defense does rest, it would leave only a short rebuttal case by the prosecution. Judge Belvin Perry tentatively said closing arguments could then begin Saturday and that he would hand the case over to the jury that evening or Sunday.

Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in Caylee's death in the summer of 2008. The prosecution contends she suffocated the child with duct tape. The girl's remains were found in the woods near her grandparents' home in December that year.

Karin Moore, a law professor at Florida A&M University, said alluding to the suicide attempt was a misstep by lead defense attorney Jose Baez.

"I think it backfired on him," Moore said. "I think his intention was to craft an inference for the jury that George Anthony tried to commit suicide over the alleged abuse and death of Caylee. He opened the door and Ashton correctly pointed it out."

Also Wednesday, a grief expert testified it is plausible for a young person dealing with a death to exhibit the same behavior Casey Anthony did in the month after prosecutors say Caylee had been killed. The toddler had not been seen for a month or so before the Anthony family reported it to police.

Several witnesses have said Casey Anthony spent her time partying and claimed the child was with an imaginary nanny.

Florida State University professor and grief expert Sally Karioth never interviewed Anthony, but when defense attorney Dorothy Sims laid out a hypothetical scenario with facts from the case, she testified it wasn't inconsistent with grief she's observed in similar situations. Karioth previously testified in the South Carolina murder case of Susan Smith, who was convicted of drowning her children.

"Young adults are reflective grievers and will often act like nothing happened," Karioth said.

The defense has been trying to paint the Anthony family as dysfunctional and said in its opening statement that George Anthony molested his daughter when she was a child.

Ashton pointed out that the suicide note did not include any reference to molesting Casey Anthony. Baez again used the opportunity to press George Anthony on the accusation.

"Sir, I never would do anything like that to my daughter," George Anthony said.

The defense also objected to prosecutors asking George Anthony about a gun he bought in August 2008, but Perry agreed the jury could hear it.

With the jury out of the room, George Anthony said he planned to use the gun to try to get his daughter's friends to tell him what happened to Caylee.

When the jury came back, George Anthony started crying as he recounted the emotional month before his suicide attempt.

He also said he never got the opportunity to confront his daughter's friends because law enforcement confiscated the gun the day after he bought it. The firearm was not allowed in the home as a condition of Casey Anthony's bond because she was living there.