ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Cindy Anthony sobbed uncontrollably on the witness stand on Tuesday as jurors listened to the 911 call she made on July 15, 2008 after daughter Casey Anthony admitted her 2-year-old was missing.
“Caylee’s missing,” Cindy Anthony frantically told the emergency dispatcher during the phone call. “It smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.”
Casey Anthony, on trial in Orlando for first-degree murder, told the emergency dispatcher that daughter Caylee had been missing for 31 days with a babysitter she identified as Zenaida Gonzales Fernandez.
Asked by the dispatcher why she hadn’t reported the missing child earlier, Casey said, “I’ve been looking for her and just gone through other resources to find her, which was stupid.”
Both prosecutors and the defense agree Caylee died on June 16, 2008 — a month before the 911 call.
Prosecutors believe Casey killed the toddler and dumped her body in woods near the Anthony home. Caylee’s skeletal remains were found six months later with duct tape wrapped three times around her head, nose and mouth, the only evidence indicating a cause of death, according to prosecutors.
On the night of the 911 call, Casey told detectives that the babysitter kidnapped Caylee. However, Casey’s defense lawyer Jose Baez has told jurors Caylee drowned in the Anthonys’ backyard pool and was found by Casey’s father George, but no one immediately reported the toddler’s death.
Cindy Anthony, who returned to the witness stand on Tuesday for a second day of testimony, has struggled to remain composed as she shared a series of excuses she said Casey made for four weeks to keep Cindy from seeing her granddaughter.
Head lowered and voice trembling, Cindy described the early afternoon of July 15 when she and George Anthony went to reclaim Casey’s Pontiac Sunfire from an impound lot where they learned it had been towed.
Both George and the impound lot manager testified last week that they recognized the smell of human decomposition in the car, which belonged to Cindy and George but was used by Casey.
Cindy, a nurse who had experience smelling rotting flesh, also noted the stench. “What died?” she recalled asking her husband after he drove the car home.
However, Cindy testified, she was not thinking at the time that a dead body might actually have been in the car.
She said she sprayed an entire can of the air freshener Febreze inside the car and trunk. She and George opened all the windows, the trunk and the hood and left the car in their garage while they returned to work.
Realizing that Casey had lied to her about being in Jacksonville with Caylee in the Sunfire, Cindy said, she went through Casey’s work purse found in the car.
Cindy said she found a phone number for one of Casey’s friends and got the friend to take her to Casey, who was in Orlando staying at then-boyfriend Tony Lazzaro’s apartment.
Cindy testified she confronted Casey and demanded Casey bring her to see Caylee. Cindy said the two drove around, and Casey continued to balk at taking her to Caylee.
Cindy said she finally called 911 out of frustration.
She made three 911 calls in all on July 15.
During the first two, Cindy calmly told the dispatcher she wanted Casey arrested for theft of money and theft of the car removed from the impound lot.
At the end of the first call, Casey could be heard asking her mother to give her one more day. Cindy refused, saying she had already waited a month to see Caylee.
During the second call, Cindy told the dispatcher she wanted Casey arrested before adding, “and I have a possible missing child.”
Cindy said she returned home with Casey to wait for a deputy to arrive. While at home, Casey’s brother Lee questioned Casey. Cindy testified she overheard Casey tell Lee that Caylee had been gone for 31 days.
“‘What do you mean she’s been gone? Why didn’t you tell me?’ I swore at her. I hit the bed,” Cindy recalled on the witness stand.
During her third 911 call, Cindy, now sobbing and distraught, made the connection to the dispatcher between the missing child and the stench in Casey’s car.
Casey also spoke to the dispatcher in the third call. Her voice remained calm.
“My daughter’s been missing for the last 31 days,” Casey told the dispatcher.
Casey was arrested in the course of that night’s investigation. Prosecutors played a tape recording of a profanity-laced phone call she made the next day from jail.
“Well, I just saw your nice little cameo on TV,” Casey said to Cindy, referring to interviews Cindy was doing on television seeking help finding Caylee.
Casey argued with her mother and brother, insisting she didn’t know where Caylee was and accusing them of not believing her.
Asked why she wasn’t crying and didn’t seem upset, Casey said, “I have to stay composed to talk to detectives.”
Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton