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Casey Anthony in courtroom for hearing on 'disturbing' images

  • Story Highlights
  • Judge calls Casey Anthony to hearing at request of prosecutor
  • Hearing focuses in part on how to share crime scene images with defense experts
  • Prosecutors fear images could wind up in hands of media
  • In separate hearing, judge says defamation suit against Anthony can proceed
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ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- A Florida woman accused of killing her toddler daughter made a rare court appearance Thursday for a hearing regarding "disturbing" images of the scene where her daughter's skeletal remains were found.

Casey Anthony, 22, is accused of killing her daughter. Investigators say her alibi didn't check out.

Caylee Anthony, 2, had been missing since June in a case that has received national attention.

The hearing began without Casey Anthony, as defense attorney Jose Baez saying she waived her right to appear. But prosecutors objected, saying Anthony should be brought into court and questioned before waiving her appearance.

Orange County Circuit Judge Stan Strickland agreed, sending deputies to retrieve Anthony from jail but starting the hearing without her.

She later was brought in, wearing navy jail scrubs. Answering Strickland's questions in a clear voice, Anthony confirmed that she had waived her right to appear in court. Video Watch Casey Anthony appear in court »

Strickland, however, had her remain for the rest of the hearing. She sat expressionless, appearing to listen closely as prosecutors and defense attorneys hashed out routine discovery and evidentiary issues.

Anthony, 22, is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, who was last reported seen in June. She was arrested in October and charged with first-degree murder and other offenses, even though Caylee's body had not been found.

The girl's skeletal remains were found last month in woods about a half-mile from the home of Anthony's parents, where Caylee and her mother had been living. Authorities have been unable to determine how the girl died but said she was the victim of a homicide.

In Thursday's hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys wrangled over defense experts' access to images from the scene where the body was found. Prosecutors said they did not want the defense to copy, print or send any photos or X-rays of Caylee to their experts, many of whom were outside Florida, out of concern they might wind up in the media's hands.

Because the experts are outside the jurisdiction of the Florida court, Strickland would have little recourse if the photos wound up "displayed on some magazine at the checkout at the Publix," prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick said Thursday.

The pictures "are not necessarily gruesome, but they are disturbing," especially images of the child's skull when it was found and removed from the woods, she said.

Baez agreed he did not want the photos to be made public, and said he doubted his experts would jeopardize their reputations by leaking them, noting they have signed confidentiality agreements.

The parties agreed that the defense would set up a secure Web site for its experts to evaluate the photographs. Strickland also ordered Baez not to copy the images or transmit them in any way.

In an earlier hearing Thursday, another Orange County circuit judge ruled that a lawsuit filed against Anthony may proceed, but the judge is not requiring Anthony to submit to a deposition at this time.

In questioning after Caylee's disappearance, Anthony told police she had left the child with a baby sitter named Zenaida Gonzalez and had not seen her since. Checking out her story, authorities found that the apartment where Anthony said she left Caylee was vacant and located a Zenaida Gonzalez, who said she had never met Anthony.

Gonzalez filed a defamation suit against Anthony, saying that as a result of Anthony's statements, she has been suspected wrongly of involvement in Caylee's disappearance. Her attorney, John Morgan, told the judge Thursday that Gonzalez lost her job because of those claims.

Anthony's defense attorneys asked that proceedings in the Gonzalez suit -- specifically, Anthony's deposition -- be postponed until the criminal case against Anthony is resolved, because Anthony's answers to questions in the deposition could potentially incriminate her, meaning she would have to invoke her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer.

Circuit Judge Jose Rodriguez agreed that Anthony should not be compelled to undergo an oral deposition, but said Morgan could depose her with written questions and answers.

"No matter how much we want to separate these cases, they're intertwined," Rodriguez said in issuing his decision.

Morgan noted that Anthony has filed a countersuit against Gonzalez, and said Anthony cannot duck a deposition at the same time that she is suing his client.

"They cannot have their cake and eat it too," Morgan said, adding that Anthony "can't sue someone and then say, 'You can't question me because of the Fifth Amendment.' "

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Anthony's countersuit accuses Gonzalez of attempting to cash in on the high-profile case.

A trial date has not been set for Anthony, who could face a sentence of life in prison if convicted of killing Caylee. Prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty against her.

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