15 Things You Need To Know About The Horrible Child Murder Trial That's Dominating Cable News

Casey Anthony trial

It’s the ongoing tragedy-fuelled news story that has attracted national attention since June 2008.

The murder of 3-year-old Caylee Anthony.

On trial for the murder? Her own mother Casey Anthony.

As the trial moves forward, the case has once again made national headlines (see: this week’s People cover).

The coverage has even boosted Nancy Grace’s HLN ratings into second place for her time-slot.  That’s huge.

From the false claims, to shocking accusations, and contradicting testimonies, we’ve gathered the most important facts about the Casey Anthony Murder Trial (so far) to guide you through the case.

The beginning: Caylee is reported missing

Over the course of 6 months, the tragic saga went from missing child case to murder. (Visit ABCNews.go.com for the full timeline)

On June 16, 2008 Caylee Anthony was last seen alive by her grandfather George Casey, as he reported to police.

Nearly a month later, on July 15, Caylee was reported missing to authorities by grandmother Cindy Anthony, saying 'I found out my granddaughter has been taken, she has been missing for a month.'

In a 911 call, Cindy tells police 'I found my daughter's car today and it smelled like there's been a dead body in the damn car,' which she later retracted. Listen here.

Casey Anthony was arrested for the first time on July 16, after her story that she left Caylee at the apartment of a babysitter is found to be untrue. Casey was charged with child neglect.

Authorities zero in on Casey, charge the mother with murder

After being released on bond, Casey returned to jail on September 29, facing multiple charges: 'child neglect, lying to investigators, petty theft and use of a forged check.' Days later on October 2, Casey is officially named a suspect.

On October 14, Casey was charged with first degree murder. 10 days later, police report evidence of 'body decomposition and chloroform' in Casey's car.

Skeletal remains are found near Casey's home on December 11, which are confirmed via DNA testing to belong to Caylee.

The party photos

During the time in which Caylee was 'missing,' Casey was photographed partying in nightclubs. These photographs were later submitted as evidence to jurors at the trial.

Who's who

Prosecutor: Linda Drane Burdick

Lead defence Attorney: José Baez

Judge: Belvin Perry. Jr.

The jury: Judge Perry brought in a jury from Clearwater, Florida (100 miles away from Orlando, where the trial is taking place), in hopes they might be 'less exposed' to the details and media coverage of the case. The jurors will be sequestered in a hotel for two months; family members are allowed visitations on weekends.

The prison phone calls

Recordings of jailhouse conversations following Casey's arrest were released by authorities and show Casey laughing, combative, and portraying herself as the victim.

Tapes like the one below have been played for jurors throughout the trial.

Shocking opening statements by defence team

During opening statements, defence attorney José Baez painted a new picture for jurors that explained why Casey had never reported her daughter as missing:

'Years of alleged sexual abuse by family members forced Casey Anthony to keep secrets, tell lies and ultimately led her to cover up her daughter's accidental drowning in the backyard pool in June 2008.'

Going even further, Baez claimed that Casey's father George began molesting Casey in elementary school and eventually assisted in the disposal of Caylee's body.

George has denied these allegations.

Drowning vs. Duct Tape

The prosecution and defence teams have argued two different versions of how Caylee Anthony died...

defence: 'Caylee was never missing...On June 16, 2008, she drowned in the family swimming pool. It was a horrible tragedy. A common tragedy.'

Prosecutors: According to Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick, duct tape was found over the nose and mouth of Caylee's skull. Referring to the tape as 'the murder weapon,' Burdick told jurors, 'The tape was put over the hair...She (Casey) never intended to take if off.'

Testimony about the car trunk

George Anthony, Casey's father, has testified that the trunk of the car belonging to Casey 'was filled with maggots and emitted a horrific smell,' saying 'as soon as he smelled the odor, he prayed it wasn't his granddaughter.'

As police reports had indicated, the car contained evidence of 'body decomposition and chloroform.'

Of the smell, George said, 'I was very concerned about the odor...That particular smell whenever you smell it, it's something you never forget. It's a very distinct odor.'

As reported on 'Today,' prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Casey is convicted of murdering Caylee, as they believe it was premeditated.

The argument behind their theory? The detection of chloroform in Casey's trunk. Prosecutors argue that Casey used the chemical to knock out her daughter. Search history on Casey's computer also indicate she researched how to make chloroform.

However, experts brought in by the prosecution to testify have delivered conflicting reports regarding the chloroform levels that were found. This could prove a blow to the prosecution's case.

Could she be acquitted?

People are (literally) fighting to get into the courthouse and watch the trial in person

Casey is removed from court following her emotional response to graphic images of daughter's skull

Casey was removed from the courtroom after graphic photos of Caylee's remains were shown to the jury.

Describing Casey's reaction to the photos, Local10.com writes:

'Anthony began to rock back and forth, breathe deeply and hold her head in the palm of her hand as Dr. Gary Utz, the Orange/Osceola County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner, showed pictures of Caylee Anthony's remains, including graphic photos of her skull.'

Jurors were also seen wiping their faces and looking away from the photos. Eventually, Perry called for an early dismissal to the day's court proceedings.

Images of the skull and remains were blurred, by Perry's request, in the live broadcasts of the trial.

Who is Vasco Thompson?

Vasco Thompson, who was convicted on kidnapping charges stemming from a 1987 arrest, was named by the defence team as a 'surprise witness.'

The last-minute witness was filed by team who alleged that Thompson was in contact with Casey's father George four times on July 14, 2008. George quickly denied the claims.

Thompson broke his silence on June 17th in front of the Orange County Courthouse denying any involvement in the case:

'I have no idea who George Anthony is...I've just seen him on TV. I've never talked to George Anthony.'

The trial's lawyers are breaking Judge Perry's rules and he is not happy.

Before the trial began, Perry required that each 'expert witness' submit 'a report with their opinions' to both sides. Accordingly, each team can equally prepare their cases.

After a defence witness offered testimony that was not in the previously submitted report, Perry said he will exclude the defence' key witnesses if 'they continue to present surprise opinions that neither the judge nor the prosecution is aware of beforehand.' This, of course, could result in a mistrial.

According to ABC News, Perry told the court:

'Enough is enough and both sides need to be forewarned that exclusion even at the price of having to do it all over again, which I don't think I will have to do it all over again, because of repeated violations, exclusion might be the proper remedy if it continues.'

The prosecution investigates a fellow inmate's strikingly similar story

On Tuesday June 20th, prosecutor Burdick announced an investigation into any contact between Casey and fellow Orange County inmate April Whalen whose child died in a similar way to that which is being argued by the defence team.

Very similar:

'April Whalen's 15-month-old son, Isaiah, drowned in her family's pool on Christmas Day in 2007, and his body was found by his grandfather. Baez had claimed in his opening statement that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008 and was found dead by her grandfather George Anthony,' explains CNN.com.

A jail spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Whalen was in the same dorm as Casey for five days in 2009 (June 4-8).

Whalen denies speaking with Casey, however the investigation continues.

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