Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jose Baez on Casey Anthony and Mental Health Issues in Presumed Guilty

I am currently reading Presumed Guilty: Casey Anthony: The Inside Story by Jose Baez and am enjoying the book tremendously. I would say that anyone who is interested in the Casey Anthony case should read the book, regardless of how they feel about Jose Baez. Casey does not profit from the book, and Jose Baez proved himself as an expert criminal defense attorney throughout the trial. I will read Jeff Ashton's book Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony as soon as I finish Presumed Guilty and plan to have both books completed before the Jan. 19, 2013, premiere of the Lifetime movie Prosecuting Casey Anthony.

Multiple things have caught my attention from reading the book and I am impressed with Jose Baez' candor. Regardless of how you feel about his defense for Casey and the drowning theory, I think the book sheds light on why he took the case, the challenges he faced as a criminal defense attorney, and his personal insights and views on Casey Anthony.

One area that the trial overlooked was Casey's mental health. Though she did have a psychological evaluation to determine whether she was fit for trial, I have to wonder if the push to get Casey Anthony  convicted didn't impact her psychological evaluation. Jose Baez was not seeking an insanity defense, so the need to have psychologists or psychiatrists testify on the stand was unnecessary. I have spoken with numerous people who felt that Casey Anthony had mental health issues, and Jose Baez had no qualms about stating he felt the same.

When Detective Yuri Melich first discovered that Casey Anthony was habitually lying, it may have been a good idea to change tactics and get her to a psychological evaluation. After Casey Anthony lied continually regarding Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, her living arrangements at Sawgrass Apartments, and her continual lies saying that she worked at Universal Studios, it would have been reasonable to have her see a professional. Instead, Casey Anthony was taken in for questioning and to point out photos of Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.

In Feb. 2012, the Orlando Sentinel requested to have Casey Anthony's psychological evaluations unsealed and Judge Belvin Perry approved the request. While Jose Baez chose not to have Psychiatrist Jeffrey Danziger and psychologist Dr. William Weitz testify during trial, there were many confirmations between the doctors evaluations and Jose Baez' defense strategies. Many of the claims Jose Baez made during Casey Anthony's murder trial, though not proved, were repeated during Casey Anthony's psychological evaluations.

 Psychiatrist  Jeffrey Danziger evaluated Casey Anthony in 2008, first at the court's request then again in 2010, at the defense's request. I haven't read all of Presumed Guilty: Casey Anthony: The Inside Story yet, so I can't delve into Jose Baez' response to the evaluations, and there are NUMEROUS pages of documents to go through (approximately 500 in total), but it definitely backs up the claims Jose Baez made throughout the trial and in his book that he believed Casey Anthony had mental health issues.

The trouble with Casey Anthony, however, is she is an excellent liar. Is that indicative of a mental health condition or a personality disorder? The claims that Jose Baez made about Casey Anthony during the murder trial (such as sexual abuse at the hands of her father, the drowning death), Casey Anthony also repeated during her evaluations. Trouble is, we don't know which came first -- Casey Anthony's claims or the defense strategy.

You may read the deposition transcripts from the doctors who performed the psychological evaluation on Casey Anthony in the Scribd documents below. Casey Anthony Psychological Evaluations Deposition Transcripts Part 1 Casey Anthony Psychological Evaluations Deposition Transcripts Part 2 Casey Anthony Psychological Evaluations Deposition Transcripts Part 3 Casey Anthony Psychological Evaluations Deposition Transcripts Part 4

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