Dutch DNA Expert Testifies In Casey Anthony Trial

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(CNN) -- Even given a small amount of DNA present, it would be possible to extract a DNA profile from the duct tape covering the mouth portion of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's skeletal remains, a Dutch forensic scientist testified Tuesday in the murder trial of her mother, Casey Anthony.

But, DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom testified, he did not ask to test the duct tape, although he said he offered to investigate. And, he said, he does not know whether Anthony's defense submitted any items to retest.

Defense attorney Jose Baez asked him if it was true that he did not retest the tape because prosecutors did not want him to take possession of it, prompting an angry objection from prosecutor Jeff Ashton and a sidebar conference with Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. Perry sustained Ashton's objection, saying Baez could not ask that question.

Eikelenboom testified about "low copy number" DNA, by which small samples of DNA are amplified and copied in an effort to obtain a full profile.

He said that when tape is used to cover a person's mouth, it's possible the sticky side of the tape could contain skin cells from the face as well as DNA from the mouth. However, he told Ashton, factors such as heat and water have "a very detrimental effect" on DNA and it would be difficult to determine a profile from tape that, in this case, had been exposed to the elements for as long as six months.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with seven counts in her daughter's death, including first-degree murder. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors allege Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious, then used duct tape to cover her nose and mouth, suffocating her. The girl's skeletal remains were found in a wooded field on December 11, 2008, nearly six months after her family last reported seeing her.

Defense attorneys say Caylee was not murdered, but that she accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, the day she was last seen. They argue that Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked and covered up the death.

George Anthony has rejected that scenario in his testimony.

Caylee was not reported missing to police until July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy, tracked down her daughter and demanded answers regarding Caylee's whereabouts.

Eikelenboom told jurors he previously worked on the Tim Masters case in Colorado. Masters was convicted in 1999 of a 1987 murder, but was freed in 2008 after Eikelenboom and his wife discovered new DNA evidence.

Eikelenboom said that the forensics company founded by his wife, which he joined in 2005, received international attention after his work in the Masters case. Ashton attempted to suggest during cross-examination that Eikelenboom was seeking more attention by working on the Anthony case, as the company is opening a lab in the United States. But, said Eikelenboom, "We already have a lot of work, so actually we'll try to downscale it a little bit."

Earlier Tuesday, a forensic botanist testified Caylee's remains could have been at the site where they were found -- less than a mile from her grandparents' home -- for as little as two weeks, based on plant evidence found there.

Jane Bock, a soft-spoken, grandmotherly woman, said she believed the root growth found in the "hair mass" and the skeleton could have accumulated in two weeks. But during cross-examination by Ashton, she seemed less sure about the skeleton, saying she had only studied root growth on skeletons that had been in place for years.

"I don't know exactly when" the remains were placed there, Bock said. "My best guess is what I have presented today."

Ashton introduced into evidence a photo of Caylee's skull, showing leaf matter and debris that had accumulated up to the lower portion of the eye sockets. He asked Bock if that could have occurred in just two weeks.

"If these leaves are, in fact, the level that has fallen since the skull has been there, then clearly the skull has been there for a lot longer than two weeks, wouldn't you agree?" Ashton asked.

"Given your hypothesis that it had lain there undisturbed all that time, the answer would be yes," Bock acknowledged. She told Ashton that she could not say for sure if it was possible that the skull could have sunk into the leaf litter.

Asked by Ashton whether the fact that a hipbone was found 4 inches deep into the muck would change her time estimate, Bock said no, suggesting a dog could have buried the hipbone.

As the photo of the skull was shown in the courtroom, Anthony looked downward with her mouth pressed to the back of her hand.

Bock also told jurors on Tuesday that fragments found on and in Casey Anthony's car did not match the vegetation seen at the scene where the remains were found. "Bits of leaves, for the most part" were found in and on Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire, Bock testified, "especially from a camphor tree." Bock said that when she visited the place where Caylee's remains were discovered, she did not see a camphor tree at the site.

Meanwhile, wrangling between the prosecution and the defense continued outside the presence of the jury Tuesday.

Eikelenboom submitted an affidavit, but did not write a report outlining the opinions he would testify to, in violation of an order issued in December by Perry. Perry called Eikelenboom to the stand without the jury present Tuesday and questioned him closely about whether he was ever told such a report was required. Eikelenboom said he was not.

Perry ruled a "willful" and "substantial" violation had taken place by the defense.

Ashton told Perry he took a deposition from Eikelenboom on Monday afternoon and did not object to his testifying, but asked that a portion of his testimony -- his opinion that DNA is recoverable from fluids associated with human decomposition -- not be allowed without a hearing on whether it should be admissible. The opinion, Ashton said, is not based on research, but on Eikelenboom's own anecdotal evidence.

Baez argued against it, but Perry agreed with Ashton, saying that at least until a hearing can be held, Eikelenboom cannot testify about that matter. Perry told the attorneys that "since it looks like we're going to be doing this for the next two weeks," they can schedule a hearing on whether that testimony can be admitted if they want. "I will not permanently shut the door," the judge said.

Ashton also recommended that Perry proceed with contempt of court proceedings against Baez at the conclusion of the trial -- something the judge has threatened to do.

Baez complained to Perry on Monday that Ashton deliberately refused to take a deposition from Eikelenboom on Saturday. Ashton told the judge that Baez had sent Eikelenboom to his office with a half-page report that "indicated nothing, essentially," leaving him with little for questioning.

After jurors were sent out for lunch, attorneys discussed discovery items that had just been provided to the defense.

Some of the information has to do with a former inmate incarcerated with Anthony, whose child died in a pool and was discovered by the child's grandfather, according to prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick. The woman, identified as April Whalen, claims she never spoke with Anthony but did not know if she talked to other inmates, Burdick said. The information was only investigated last week, and was given to the defense as soon as it was available, she said.

Asked by Perry if prosecutors plan to have Whalen testify, Burdick said she currently does not, although the information could become relevant.

On Monday, the judge abruptly canceled court for the day after scolding both sides for continued "gamesmanship," ruling that neither Eikelenboom nor forensic anthropologist William Rodriguez could testify.

Rodriguez had planned to testify Saturday about duct tape found near Caylee's skeletal remains and a controversial video that prosecutors say proves that a piece of duct tape could have been the murder weapon.

But Rodriguez's opinions were not contained in his report filed with the court and weren't shared with prosecutors, a violation of a court order, the judge said, and Perry ordered him off the stand, calling the omission "quite intentional."

Ashton asked Perry on Monday to again delay Rodriguez's testimony.

Perry warned any further deliberate violations of his orders to reveal evidence and opinions to opposing attorneys could result in the exclusion of that evidence from the trial.

That is an extreme step that has not yet been upheld in Florida courts, but Perry said he would be willing to take the action "at the cost of doing this all over again" should the violations continue.

Perry granted Ashton's request to delay Rodriguez's testimony. Eikelenboom could not testify Monday because prosecutors had not interviewed him, leaving defense attorneys scrambling to pick up their third witness. After meeting with attorneys in chambers, Perry recessed court until Tuesday morning.

The trial entered its fifth week Monday. Perry told jurors that the trial will go only until about noon Wednesday, adding that he has a meeting at 1 p.m. concerning state trial court budgeting.

In Session's Mayra Cuevas, Ilana Rosenbluth and Michael Christian contributed to this report.