Casey Anthony was tried for the first-degree murder of Caylee Anthony, her daughter, surrounding a controversial sequence of events. This case, in particular, was controversial, and the events surrounding Caylees death were unclear. During a trial, the evidence is an important part of getting a conviction. It is used to prove that someone is guilty of the crime they are put on trial for. In the Casey Anthony case, the evidence was unable to hold up the prosecutions theories. The digital evidence, in this case, had some discrepancies, which affected the way that the evidence was perceived.
Casey Anthony Case Summary
It was Casey Anthonys mother Cindy who reported her granddaughter Caylee missing. On July 15, 2008, Cindy Anthony called the police to report that Casey had stolen their family car, some money, and to inform them that Caylee might be missing (CNN Library, 2015). The next day, Casey is arrested suspicion of child neglect, and on August 5th, she is formally charged. She is released on bail, then arrested on charges of check forgery, petty theft, and some other charges and her bond are revoked. On October 14th, 2008, Casey Anthony is indicted on capital murder and the child neglect charges are dropped shortly after. In December, Caylee Anthonys skeletal remains are found. On May 24th, 2011 the trial begins. Over the next couple of months, forensic evidence is presented, and the prosecution and defense argue their sides. On July 5th, 2011 Casey Anthony is found not guilty of first-degree murder.
The Digital Evidence
Part of the prosecutions case was that chloroform was used subdue Caylee, and that murder was premeditated since Casey had looked chloroform using the Mozilla Firefox browser. The Internet history within Mozilla Firefox was an integral part of the prosecutions case for these claims (Wilson, 2011). Investigators performed a keyword search of Casey Anthonys computer, which yielded results for the word chloroform. The file was found in a Mork database, used by Mozilla Firefox, and it was determined that the file resided in unallocated clusters.
This evidence was crucial to the case, but the prosecution was unable to prove that Casey performed the search. In fact, her mother had testified that she had performed the search herself (National Museum of Crime and Punishment, 2011). The investigators tried to use the timestamps of the Mork database on the digital evidence to prove who had done the search, but there were some difficulties and a discrepancy with the evidence between forensic analysis methods. It is hard to prove who might have used a computer to do a search for something. Timestamping can only show you a piece of the puzzle, and I do think that this a common issue with digital evidence that can be found on a computer that multiple people use.
During the initial examination of the data, NetAnalysis (v1.37) software was used to examine the evidence, which provided timestamp information for the searches (Wilson). With this software, there was an option to present the timestamp as a local value adjusted for Daylight Savings Time (DST). With NetAnalysis (v1.50), the examiner had UTC and local times adjusted for DST. The examiner wanted the evidence to shoe timestamp information in local time, not standard time. To achieve this, another tool was used, but this second tool could not recover the Mork files. The examiner contacted the developer, who fixed the issue. The defense noticed the discrepancies between the results given by both tools, which called the legitimacy of the results into question. There are instances in which discrepancies in the evidence are found, which is why it is common practice to verify findings with more than one type of software or forensic method.
Juror Views on Evidential Discrepancies
As a juror, you are brought in to make a judgement on a case based on the evidence that the prosecution provides. It is their job to present the evidence in a way that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed by the defendant. In this case, a rather important piece of evidence that was crucial to the prosecutions attempt at doing this was perceived to have a major discrepancy. This would plant doubt in anyones mind, and if I were a juror in a case in which inaccurate evidence was presented, it would affect my perception of the prosecutions case.
The Casey Anthony Case was controversial, and there were a lot of things that were not very clear. A key piece of digital evidence provided was found to be questionable. During any trial, it is important to make sure that the evidence you present in court can be held up, and can be used to prove the guilt of the defendant. In this case, the prosecution was unable to do so, since there were discrepancies with the evidence presented. This is the type of thing that can break the prosecutions case, which it did in this case.
CNN Library. (2015). Casey Anthony Trial Fast Facts. Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/04/us/casey-anthony-trial-fast-facts/
National Museum of Crime and Punishment. (2011). Casey Anthony Trial. Jury Selection Begins in Anthony Trial, Decomp Evidence Allowed. Crime Museum. Retrieved from http://w ww.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/casey-anthony-trail
Wilson, C. (2011). Digital Evidence Discrepancies Casey Anthony Trial. Digital Detective Group LTD. Retrieved from http://www.digital-detective.net/digital-evidence-discrepancies-casey-anthony-trial/
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