The problem with being a legend is that when you fall, the drop is extraordinary. Without a doubt, Dr. Werner Spitz has been legendary in his field for decades. And it seemed to me that On Saturday in the Casey Anthony trial he performed a kamikaze raid obliterating his reputation and credibility in a spectacular fashion. And he did it in a case where he still believed that the victim was kidnapped by Zanny the Nanny. Apparently, the defense team never informed him that they no longer believed in that scenario.
On direct testimony, Spitz said that the duct tape was applied to the skull of Caylee Anthony after her body had completely decomposed–that someone picked up the bare skull and applied the duct tape and laid it back on the ground where it was found. At first, I thought I heard him incorrectly. A double-check revealed that was his testimony. Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s about as believable as the Zanny lie.
That ludicrous scenario made him appear to be a hired gun whose testimony was shaped to suit the person who paid him. During the cross examination though, it appeared as if there were more at work than that. Spitz displayed an alarming level of professional jealousy toward Dr. Jan Garavaglia and her successful television career. He sounded like an old man at the end of his career who resented a colleague for her achievement–referring to the work she did on this case as a “shoddy autopsy.”
He grew angry when his opinion questioned as if he didn’t understand that’s what opposing counsel is supposed to do. There was an undercurrent of defensiveness in his anger that reminded me of someone in the early stages of eldery dementia, angered by his own loss of clarity.
It was reinforced when the prosecution asked him about the number of media interviews he had given. He said one did one in Michigan that was also televised in Florida. When Jeff Ashton mentioned his interview with WKMG reporterTony Pippitone in Orlando, he did acknowledge that one but added that he did not talk about any forensic details. Ashton asked about his comments regarding brain dust and duct tape in interviews with the female reporter in Detroit. Spitz said he did not remember talking about that to her. Spitz also could not recall doing an interview about the case on the Today show. He could not remember his appearance on 48 Hours.
Then it got even worse, Spitz accused someone in the medical examiner’s office of tampering with evidence at the discovery scene and in the autopsy room. He had no proof of those allegations–it was conjecture lacking in any factual basis–but it was his conjecture. In a transparent show of arrogance, he was angered that anyone would question it.
When he stepped down from the stand, he seemed confused and appeared to need instruction to find his way out of the courtroom. At that moment, I was actually embarrassed for him. It’s sad to see a once vital mind now becoming intellectually impotent.
On the other hand, the more we see of Jose Baez, the more difficult it becomes to consider his mind as ever possessing vitality. He screwed up again with the witness that took the stand before Spitz. Baez overstepped the bounds of the court’s established rules on expert testimony–rules put in place because Baez missed a critical court deadline. The violation happened when Baez attempted to elicit testimony from Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Bill Rodriquez about the duct tape.
The judge believed it was an intentional flouting of the rules on Baez’s part. The judge took Rodriguez off the stand, ordered a deposition that afternoon and only agreed to allow him back to testify on Monday because he did not want to punish Casey Anthony for her attorney’s behavior. He said he would decide on a Contempt of Court charge against Baez at the end of the trial.
It seems Baez will stop at nothing to keep his client from paying the price for her actions. Fortunately, the prosecution team has demonstrated a remarkable proficiency in cross examination–an ability that is needed to find justice for Caylee.