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The Caylee Anthony case – possibly distressing


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  • Elders (Admins)

This post is possibly distressing as it not only involves a child, it also involves mention of the after-effects of the natural loss of life, which I'm sure some members wouldn't want to think about. So I'm putting in a lot of blank lines so if anyone has clicked on this topic but would prefer not to read about this, they can hit the "back" button in their browser before reading any further.

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I'm not sure if there's an "ignore topic" option, but if there isn't, I think there should be.

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I've just watched a TV programme called "Dr G: Death of a Toddler". I've watched other Dr G programmes, so I was interested to see the forensic evidence in this particular, very sad, case. I did vaguely recall the case itself when Caysee Anthony was arrested, but I don't recall following the trial. There were a couple of things that stood out for me when watching this programme:

(1) What it must be like for investigators to examine cases like that. It must have been very difficult to have so meticulously searched the area where the remains were found, yet they found even tiny bones that were the length of an adult's little-finger fingernail. I wonder how many people who do that job get flashbacks. Obviously not the same as portrayed on MM, but some crime scenes must stay with investigators, especially cases involving children.

(2) The "CSI effect": I don't know how prevalent this effect is, but I think it's probably an increasingly worrying effect. Mention of that was made in the TV programme and although I've never watched CSI I can well imagine what that effect is. TV shows necessarily have a plot/time structure. In mostly episodic shows, the case being investigated has to be resolved within the 44 minutes of air-time, or at most spread out over two episodes. That structure relies on forensic evidence being obtained, analysed, and linked conclusively to the perpetrator within a very short timeframe. There's no mention that toxicology, DNA, etc, can take weeks in real life.

Neither, it seems, is the recognition that sometimes it's the circumstantial evidence that's more significant than the chemical/biological evidence. Mention was made that there was the odour of chloroform in the boot of the car, yet no evidence of that could be found in the remains. That's because chloroform doesn't stay around in human tissue for very long, and certainly wouldn't have been found in remains that were just bones. Of course that means that no definite link could be made between the odour in the car and a possible cause of death so there's no causal link, but there is an inferential link.

There were three lengths of duct tape found over the lower part of the face. They were sufficient to hold in most (all?) of the baby teeth, which as they don't have roots they easily fall out, and also to hold the lower jaw in place, which normally falls away after decomposition of the connective tissues. One defence argument that the duct tape was used to seal the bags the remains were placed in doesn't work, because there couldn't be a way for the duct tape to have moved, even through the mechanism of animal predation, from the outside to the inside in such a way as to keep the teeth and the jaw in the same position as in life.

I don't really have any view on who might have been involved in this child's death or the disposal of her remains, but I am very concerned if the courts/defence/prosecution are facing even more difficulty getting across the increasingly complex and sophisticated forensic evidence to a jury whose only prior knowledge is gained from fictional TV shows (or even some TV documentaries, which are increasingly focussing on the dramatic rather than the science).

Libby

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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There's either videos or images that are not displaying, just dots.

DarleneSignaturePic1.jpg

"Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear;

too long for  those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice.

But for those who love, time is eternity."

(Jane Fellowes)

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  • Elders (Admins)

The dots are just dots. I put them in to ensure there were sufficient blank lines before my message started. Sometimes, just hitting "enter" on the keyboard for several blank lines isn't enough, as some software just ignores those.

Libby

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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