Mom of Missing Florida Girl Can Access Evidence

By: AP
By: AP

ORLANDO, Fla. - The mother of a missing 3-year-old Florida girl will have access to her car and forensic tests completed by authorities trying to figure out what happened to the child, a judge ruled Friday. But she'll have to wait to find out whether she can leave her home while on house arrest to help explain her version of events to her attorneys, because Ninth Circuit Judge Stan Strickland delayed ruling on that request.

Casey Anthony, 22, has been called a suspect in the girl's disappearance, but so far has not been charged with anything except child neglect. Authorities say the child was not reported missing for more than a month, and her mother faces 14 felony charges, including forging checks, fraud, and theft, and one misdemeanor charge of lying to police.

Orange County prosecutors sought to keep the evidence suppressed, arguing it was not relevant to the charges Anthony currently faces. Strickland disagreed.

"The result, what happened, couldn't have been better," said Todd Black, a spokesman for Jose Baez, Anthony's lawyer. "It was an excellent day."

Anthony, though given a temporary release from house arrest to attend the hearing, was not present. Black said the defense never intended Anthony to attend the hearing, saying they wanted to show the judge how much the media attention her movements attract.

State's Attorney Linda Drane-Burdick declined comment. Baez said he would have a statement available later in the day.

Strickland ruled the defense should be given access within 10 days to forensic tests from the car involving chloroform, DNA and hair strands. Access to polygraph exams and evidence from computer hard drives, cell phones and other communication devices was also granted.

Caylee Anthony's grandmother first called authorities in July to say Casey Anthony had told her the child had been missing and that her daughter's car smelled like death. She later said she was mistaken and the smell was old pizza.

Casey Anthony told authorities that she had left her daughter with a baby sitter in June, and that the two were gone when she returned from work. She says she spent the next month trying to find her daughter and didn't call authorities because she was scared.

The defense also sought any information prosecutors have on a woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, the name of the baby-sitter Casey Anthony says she left the child with. The judge granted that motion, though cautioned defense attorneys they would have to do their own legwork with the information.


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