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Caylee's grandmother describes weeks after girl's disappearance

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Casey Anthony trial: Week 1
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Casey Anthony's mother detailed the weeks following Caylee's disappearance
  • NEW: Cindy Anthony said her daughter gave reason after reason for keeping the girl from home
  • Anthony is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008
  • Anthony's attorneys say Caylee accidentally drowned

Watch special coverage of the Casey Anthony trial Saturday starting at 1 p.m. ET and next week on HLN. Follow the details as they happen on our special Casey Anthony trial page.

Orlando (CNN) -- Caylee Anthony's grandmother gave jurors in her daughter's capital murder trial a detailed glimpse of her efforts to connect with the 2-year-old girl in the weeks following her disappearance, recounting reason after reason her daughter gave for keeping the toddler away from home for nearly a month.

The reasons included work meetings, a car accident and sudden plans to hang out at a hotel with a wealthy suitor Cindy Anthony said she had long heard about, but had never met, jurors in the Orlando woman's capital murder trial heard Saturday.

Testimony from Cindy Anthony dominated the abbreviated Saturday session, which ended just before 1 p.m. in Orlando.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with seven counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading police in the death of her daughter, who was last seen June 16, 2008. Her skeletal remains were discovered were found in a wooded field in December 2008.

Prosecutors say Anthony used chloroform on her daughter and then put duct tape over her nose and mouth, suffocating the girl.

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Anthony's attorneys argue that she did not kill Caylee, but rather that the girl accidentally drowned in the Anthonys' pool. They say Anthony and her father discovered her body, panicked, and kept the death a secret. George Anthony denied that claim in testimony Thursday.

After describing her last day with Caylee, spent visiting the girl's ailing great-grandfather in a nursing home, swimming at home and then looking at pictures and videos, Cindy Anthony testified about her efforts to talk to Caylee between June 16, the next day, and July 15, when she was finally reported missing to police.

"There was always a reason I missed her," Cindy Anthony said.

At first, Cindy Anthony said, she believed Caylee was staying with her nanny, Zanny, while her daughter attended work meetings. Then, Anthony told her mother that she was taking the girl to Tampa, Florida, for an outing with a co-worker and her child.

When they didn't return as expected, Cindy Anthony testified her daughter told her a serious car accident had left Zanny injured, and that she felt obligated to stay and care for her.

When her father, George Anthony, ran into her at home on June 24, when she was supposed to be nearly 80 miles away in Tampa, Casey Anthony explained she had returned to get insurance information for Zanny and get some things from home, Cindy Anthony testified.

When asked why she didn't bring her daughter home, Casey Anthony said she "didn't think about it," her mother testified.

After that, Casey Anthony told her mother that she, Caylee and Zanny were staying at an Orlando hotel with a wealthy suitor, according to Cindy Anthony's testimony. When she failed to return home as expected, Casey Anthony then explained the delay by saying she was working on a closed Make-A-Wish event that Caylee could attend, but Cindy Anthony could not.

On July 3, Cindy Anthony testified, she went to Universal Studios -- where she believed her daughter worked -- to confront her over a money issue. That's when Casey Anthony told her she wasn't in Orlando, but rather in Jacksonville, Florida -- at the suitor's condo.

Despite what she was telling her mother, Casey Anthony was actually spending time in Orlando with numerous friends, attending parties, going shopping and hitting nightclubs, according to previous testimony and evidence in the case.

For instance, on June 20, when Casey Anthony was telling her mother she was working and taking Caylee to an amusement park in Tampa with a co-worker, she was instead participating in a "hot body" contest at an Orlando night club, according to previous testimony in the case. Photos of the event shown at the trial show her dancing at the club.

Casey Anthony's attorneys explain her behavior in June and July 2008 by saying she had been sexually abused by her father and was trained from a young age to hide her pain. George Anthony denied abusing his daughter in previous testimony.

Cindy Anthony broke down on the stand early in her testimony, while look at pictures of Caylee's Winnie the Pooh-themed bed, depictions of her backyard playhouse and an image of her visiting the nursing home. At one point, she interrupted prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick's qustioning to ask that Caylee's image be taken off a computer screen in front of her.

"I'm trying not to cry," she said.

During a break following testimony in which Cindy Anthony was discussing how she and her husband, George, bought and installed an outside playhouse for Caylee, Casey Anthony could be seen crying and gesturing angrily as she spoke with her attorneys.

Earlier Saturday, Casey Anthony's former boyfriend took the stand to discuss text messages between the two on July 16, the night after Anthony's daughter was reported missing to police by Cindy Anthony.

In the messages, Anthony told the boyfriend, Anthony Lazarro, that she had been driving around with police looking for her daughter.

"If they don't find her, guess who gets blamed and spends an eternity in jail?" Anthony texted.

Anthony called herself "the dumbest person and the worst mother."

"The best person in my life is missing and God only knows if I'm ever going to see her again," read another text.

Prosecutors began questioning Lazarro the day after Judge Belvin Perry questioned their attempts to introduce another set of instant messages that Assistant State's Attorney Frank George said showed Anthony believed her daughter was in the way of their relationship.

"... Only a few more days and you can bring your ass over anytime you want and stay any night you want," read one text message that prosecutors said was sent June 10.

George said the message and others like it would help prove Anthony's motive for killing Caylee.

George said the instant messages showed that Caylee's presence was stifling her lifestyle, which prosecutors have tried to paint as hard-partying and carefree.

"She couldn't do what she wanted to do," George told Perry in a discussion held without the jury present in the courtroom.

But Perry questioned the logic, asking why Anthony did not also plot to kill her parents.

After Perry said he did not believe the evidence was relevant and would be excessively prejudicial even if it was, prosecutors withdrew their attempt to have it introduced into evidence, for the time being at least.

Testimony Friday focused largely on Casey Anthony's car, a white Pontiac Sunfire found abandoned in a parking lot and later towed to an impound lot where her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, picked it up two weeks later.

George Anthony and a tow company manager testified that Casey Anthony's car reeked of the unmistakable odor of a decomposing body.

In all, Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of misleading police. If she is convicted of capital murder, she could be sentenced to death by the seven-woman, five-man jury.

Anthony has pleaded not guilty and denies harming her daughter or having anything to do with her disappearance. Baez has said that once all the facts are known, it will become clear that his client is not guilty.

The trial will resume Tuesday after a break for the Memorial Day holiday. It is expected to last another five to seven weeks.

CNN's Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.

Watch Nancy Grace Monday through Sunday starting at 8 p.m. ET on HLN. For the latest from Nancy Grace click here.

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