Jose Baez is probably wondering why he didn’t become a fireman or librarian or anything but a criminal defense attorney after surviving Tuesday in the courtroom. Anything would have been better than having a judge, a prosecutor and a witness make him look foolish in the presence of the court and the world. It should temper his natural arrogance but I doubt that it will.
Baez began the day being chastised by Judge Belvin Perry for intentional violation of court orders. Any opinions from his expert witness, Netherlands DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom, regarding decomposition fluid were excluded from being introduced into the courtroom. The judge left the door open for the defense to file a request a Frye hearing to reconsider the admissibility of that information and allowed Eikelenboom to take the stand to testify on other matters.
Before questioning that witness, the defense called state’s witness, crime scene investigator, to the stand for her fifth conversation with the jury and then followed her with Dr. Jane Bock, a forensic botanist, who appeared to be a sweet grandmother. She issued a incredible opinion that the roots and vines running through the skull at the discovery scene grew there in two weeks. On cross, Jeff Ashton got her to admit that was the minimum time and the maximum was many months.
Then Eikelenboom took the stand out of the presence of the jury. The judge questioned him about his awareness of the court orders issued in December 2010 and January 2011. The defense had not made him aware of those report comments.
Baez complained to the judge about a discovery violation by the state. Perry told him that there was a jury waiting and that matter would be deferred to lunch hour. When that time came, two interesting items came up. Baez did not object to six items given to him that morning. They involved an on-going investigation by the state regarding April Whalen, a woman arrested on a motor vehicle charge who spent a couple of days in the jail three cells up from Casey. Her toddler had drowned in an above ground pool and the body was found by the grandfather–a scenario right out of Baez’s opening statement.
Baez did object to the seventh item calling it new evidence. It was a compilation CD of items on the Anthony computer hard drive–put together for demonstration purposes. Since Baez had received the whole hard drive two years earlier, the judge ruled that it was not new evidence. Baez whined about the vast volume of material on the hard drive but Judge Perry was not moved.
Then Dr. Marcus Wise of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory took the stand. Baez planned to use him to discredit the testimony of state witness Dr. Arpad Vass. Instead, he bolstered it, frustrating Baez non-stop. An unbelievable number of times, Ashton objected to Baez’s questions and from the bench, “sustained” echoed through the court. To top it off, he testified that the relative abundance of chloroform found in the carpet sample from the car trunk was amazing and indicated that the original quantity had to have been ten to one hundred times greater than the amount present at the time of testing.
It was a bad time for Jose Baez but a good day in the fight for justice for Caylee.