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Judge allows 911 tapes in Casey Anthony trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
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911 tapes allowed in Casey Anthony trial
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A Florida judge has allowed the 911 tapes to stay in evidence
  • Mother: I didn't want police thinking I was "some crazy grandmother"
  • The defense argues that taped phone calls are hearsay and should not be admitted
  • Prosecutors say calls are critical to their case against Anthony

Orlando, Florida (CNN) -- Prosecutors can play tapes of 911 calls made by Florida murder suspect Casey Anthony's mother after she learned her granddaughter was missing, a judge ruled Thursday.

Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, admitted during a hearing Thursday in Orlando that she had made exaggerated accusations about her daughter in those calls in a bid to get police to her home. But Circuit Judge Belvin Perry ruled that Cindy Anthony was trying to use calls to police as a "ploy" to get her daughter to tell her what she knew about the missing 2-year-old Caylee Anthony.

Defense lawyers sought to have thrown out of court as hearsay, but Perry found the tapes were not being used to prove the facts of the case.

"Whether they are true or false really has no bearing," Perry said. "They were designed to elicit statements from the defendant in this case, to ascertain the whereabouts of the victim in this particular case."

Casey Anthony is charged with capital murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee's death. The girl was reported missing two years ago Thursday, and defense attorneys were trying to keep recordings of her mother Cindy's three 911 calls out of evidence.

Facing her daughter in an Orlando courtroom, Cindy Anthony said she told police "whatever I was thinking at the time to get them out there" -- including the claim, made in her first of three 911 calls, that her daughter had stolen a car from her.

Video: Cindy Anthony's frantic 911 calls
Video: Anthony's attorney on 911 calls
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"I wanted to speak to a police officer," Cindy Anthony said. "And I didn't think that if I said that she wouldn't take me to see my granddaughter, that they thought her and I might just be having an argument and think that I was some crazy grandmother and not come out and talk to me."

But she testified that she was in a panic after Casey Anthony told her that she hadn't seen her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in a month.

Cindy Anthony told police her daughter had stolen money from her and that she had asked Casey Anthony to return her car to her brother Lee, from whom she had purchased the Pontiac but never finished paying. She said she did not intend to mislead police with the calls, however. And by the third call, she told investigators that her daughter's vehicle smelled "like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

And Lee Anthony testified Thursday that he tried to get more information out of his sister while their "frantic" mother yelled at her.

"She was very angry," he said. "Her first reaction was she had a clenched fist and hit the bed my sister was sitting on and said, 'What did you do? We could have found her 31 days ago.' "

Caylee's skeletal remains were found in the woods about a quarter mile from the Anthony home in December 2008. Prosecutors say they plan to show Casey Anthony lied repeatedly about her daughter's fate, and that the 911 calls are a critical part of that progression.

The Anthony family had not seen the toddler or her mother since June 16, 2008. When Cindy Anthony found her daughter a month later, Caylee wasn't with her. Cindy Anthony threatened to call the police, hoping it would force Casey Anthony to say where her daughter was.

After two calls to the police, Casey Anthony admitted to her brother that she had not seen Caylee in 31 days and that she believed her daughter was with a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez.

The third and final call was placed immediately after Cindy Anthony overheard what Casey Anthony told her brother. Cindy Anthony seemed to be agitated and excited as she told the dispatcher that her granddaughter had been missing for a month.

Cindy Anthony has since said that the odor emanating from the car could have been from rotting garbage. However, forensic examiners have concluded that Caylee's decomposing body was in the trunk of the car at some point in late June 2008.

Thursday's hearing was also expected to focus on a motion from the defense. It will ask the judge to modify a ruling by Judge Stan Strickland, who stepped aside in April. The motion concerns a review of documents from Texas Equusearch, a private company that assisted in the search for then-missing Caylee.

While Strickland's order allowed the defense attorneys to review thousands of documents created by Texas Equusearch, the attorneys were prohibited from taking notes during the review. The defense maintains the current arrangement is inefficient and it is seeking a more workable resolution.

In Session Correspondent Beth Karas contributed to this report.

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