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Week 1: As Casey Anthony murder trial begins, mysteries remain

By Cara Hutt, Associate Producer, In Session
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Casey Anthony trial: Week 1
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The prosecution: Focus is on 31-day-span Casey waited before reporting Caylee missing
  • The defense: Lawyers argue the family held dark secrets
  • The witnesses: Team brings former boyfriends to 'shot girls'

Orlando (CNN) -- On the fourth day of jury selection for the Florida v. Casey Anthony murder trial, potential juror No. 1 may have captured public sentiment best. He said he wanted to serve on the case to "try and solve the mystery ... the mystery to me is fascinating."

The sentiment may be shared by multitudes of people who have followed the case since the mystery began in summer 2008.

As week one of the trial comes to a close, capped off Saturday by the compelling testimony of Casey's mother, Cindy Anthony, an outsider to the case can only speculate if the jurors feel the truth is coming into focus.

After all, jurors have been given two truths to choose from about the defendant, Casey Anthony, 25, charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Her body was found dumped less than a mile from the family home six months after she was last seen.

The prosecution

From the prosecution, the jurors have heard about a Casey free of remorse who had an affinity for parties, drinking and sleepovers with men. In Tuesday's opening statements, the jury heard about nearly all the 31 days Casey waited before reporting Caylee missing.

Those days included getting a tattoo, participating in a "hot body" contest at an Orlando club, many Caylee-free nights at her then-boyfriend Anthony Lazzaro's apartment and many, many lies, the prosecution said.

"No one else benefited from the death of Caylee Marie Anthony" said assistant state attorney Linda Drane-Burdick in her opening statements Tuesday. "Caylee's death allowed Casey to live a good life, at least for those 31 days."

Caylee's grandmother takes the stand

Prosecutors allege Casey forced Caylee to inhale chloroform and then suffocated her by placing duct tape on the toddler's nose and mouth.

The defense

From the defense, jurors were presented with a loving mother, whose dysfunctional family forced her to live in a state of denial. They argue the family held dark secrets, including that Casey was sexually abused by her father and brother.

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"It all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came in and began to touch her inappropriately," Anthony's lead defense attorney, Jose Baez, said during his opening arguments Tuesday.

The defense says Caylee drowned in the family pool as the result of what Baez called "an accident that snowballed out of control." He said it was an accident to which Casey's father, George Anthony, was privy. Baez said George Anthony tried to cover up the drowning at Casey's expense.

"As soon as Casey came around this corner and went back she saw George holding Caylee in his arms," Baez said as he showed a diagram of the Anthony home and pool. "And shortly thereafter George began to yell at her, 'Look what you've done!'"

George Anthony was the first witness called after Baez's opening argument. He denied the molestation and any knowledge of the alleged drowning.

The witnesses

The prosecution team has brought in witnesses ranging from ex-boyfriends to women who partied with Casey. But even those who knew her best seemed to be describing two very different people.

When asked by prosecutors if Casey's behavior changed after June 16, 2008, the date on which Caylee was last seen, witnesses including Lazzaro and his roommates, who spent time with her during the 31 days, said Casey was her usual self. They said she was friendly and upbeat, never mentioning that her daughter was missing and making excuses for the toddler's whereabouts.

When pressed by Baez, the same witnesses affirmed Casey was a good mom with a strong bond with her daughter. In fact, during Friday's testimony, Mallory Parker, the fiancee of Casey's brother Lee, broke down on the stand as she described the relationship between Casey and Caylee as "amazing."

All this was topped off with the compelling testimony of George and Cindy Anthony.

George Anthony has been brought to the witness stand on three days, on Friday recounting the day he retrieved Casey's abandoned car from an Orlando tow yard. When pressed by Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton, the former police officer said the odor that came from his daughter's car smelled like a human corpse.

Father: Stench came from Casey's car

Saturday, Cindy Anthony described the answers given to her when she questioned Casey about her whereabouts and the whereabouts of Caylee during the month before her mother reported Caylee missing. According to Cindy Anthony, Casey explained the absence by telling her Caylee was with a nanny while Casey was busy with work meetings and trips to other cities to visit a "wealthy suitor."

Casey's demeanor

If the jurors are looking for answers in Casey's face, they may come away empty-handed. While Casey has broken down in court on several occasions, particularly when the subject turns to her relationship with Caylee, she is often stoic as she hears the recollections of the men and women who once made up her life.

On Saturday, Casey was essentially stone-faced until a court recess in the middle of her mother's testimony. Then Casey was seen sobbing and speaking passionately to her attorneys. The defendant regained composure when her mother retook the stand.

Looking ahead

While many questions remain, weeks lie ahead in the trial, so there is hope for a clearer picture of Casey and those 31 days. Court will resume on Tuesday with the continuation of Cindy Anthony's testimony.

Casey Anthony will continue to fight for her life as she faces seven counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading police in the death of her daughter.

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