— The defense team for Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, last summer, hinted Monday that they will attempt to use the “Sam Sheppard” defense, suggesting that someone else killed the child.
Sheppard was the doctor who was convicted of murdering his wife in 1954 in suburban Cleveland after insisting a “bushy-haired” assailant was the real killer. In 1966, his conviction was overturned. Sheppard’s story was said to be the inspiration for the TV series “The Fugitive” and subsequent feature film of the same name, both featuring a one-armed mystery killer.
“The person who seemed to be so guilty — it turns out he was innocent,” Linda Kenney Baden told NBC News in a report that aired Friday on TODAY.
A ‘one-armed man’ defense?
Baden is a lawyer who specializes in forensic science. She and Jose Baez, Anthony’s lead attorney, sat down with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira in New York to elaborate on what they had said in the taped report. But neither attorney offered any details other than to confirm they will attempt to have the trial moved from Orlando because of the massive amount of publicity the murder has attracted.
“Who’s the one-armed man?” Vieira asked.
“We can’t discuss specifically what our defense will be,” Baden replied. “We just ask everyone now to wait. She has the presumption of innocence, and we’ll see when we get to the trial what our strategy is. Everyone has to wait. You have to stop saying somebody is guilty, you have to stop saying people are bad. Stop the personal attacks. At the trial, you will find out.”
Vieira asked again whether the defense, as they had suggested, believe that there is another person who murdered Caylee and that they know who it is.
“We have a defense in which we believe Casey Anthony is innocent and we will show that at the trial,” Baez said. “As much as we want to go out there and scream it from the top of the mountains, we don’t feel that’s in her best interests. It’s her against the world right now. Quite frankly, it doesn’t do any defense attorney any advantage by disclosing what their defense is before the trial.”
Anthony’s murder trial is still nine months away.
Baden is the wife of celebrity coroner Dr. Michael Baden. She described herself as “an attorney who likes to specialize — dabbling, some people would say — in forensics.” She alleged that what prosecutors and investigators present as scientific evidence isn’t always so.
Her work could be critical to a trial at which prosecutors are expected to present extensive scientific evidence, including tests that they say show a decomposing body had been left in a car Anthony abandoned after her daughter went missing last June. After months of searching, the little girl’s body was discovered on Dec. 11 not far from the home of Anthony’s parents in Orlando. Police say that duct tape was found over Caylee’s mouth.
“This case may not be science, may not be accurate, may never have been tested, may not be reliable,” Baden said, pointing out that the defense team has yet to be given all of the state’s scientific evidence.
She added that her team of investigators has revisited the wooded area where the body was found, going in at night and looking for any evidence that may point in another direction.
After the two lawyers spoke with Vieira, NBC legal editor Dan Abrams told TODAY’s Natalie Morales that the lawyers are looking for anything that could connect someone other than Anthony to the murder.
“They want to find evidence that points to someone else,” Abrams said. “They’re even looking for a fraction of a fingerprint on the duct tape. They’re looking for a hair that comes from someone else … They want to find evidence that maybe someone else was there — anything, footprints, you name it. What they’re looking for is anything that will point in another direction.”
Baez did confirm that the defense team will attempt to have the trial moved from Orlando, but he would not say where he’d like it to be held.
“It’s all going to come down to jury selection. What we’d like to do is to keep the location we’re asking for secret, so it doesn’t get flooded by the media,” he said. “Right now Orlando is an unbearable place to try this case. It would be futile.”
Baez said he has been threatened physically for defending his client. “I’m doing the best I can for my client. I think it’s a lawyer’s job to stand in front of their client and remain objective over the situation,” he said.
He also declined to discuss Anthony’s emotional state.
“I’ve always kept what she’s going through private because I think that’s a private matter,” he told Vieira. “If I were going through a tragedy like this, I wouldn’t want my attorney out there telling the world what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking. That’s her private tragedy that she’s going through right now.”