ORLANDO, Fla. – The mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter was a party girl who promoted events at Florida nightclubs, though at times she was also an attentive, devoted parent, witnesses testifying at her murder trial said Wednesday.
The prosecution and defense offered jurors strikingly different portrayals of what Casey Anthony was doing in the days immediately after her daughter Caylee was last seen alive.
Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors said Caylee died from three pieces of duct tape being placed over her mouth and nose, while Anthony's attorney has claimed the toddler accidentally drowned in her grandparents' pool.
Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008. One of the grandparents' neighbors, Brian Burner, testified that Anthony asked him two days later if she could borrow a shovel to "dig up a bamboo root." She returned the shovel about an hour later, he said.
Burner also said he remembered seeing Anthony's white car backed into the garage on the night of June 16.
About a month before that, Anthony met Tony Lazzaro during a party. They soon became romantically involved and she moved into an apartment he was sharing with four other people.
Lazzaro and his ex-roommates testified that they met Anthony's daughter several times and then at some point in early June, they never saw her again.
When they asked about Caylee, her mother told them she was with her nanny at a theme park or going to the beach.
Lazzaro and the roommates said Anthony's demeanor never suggested anything was wrong. She would cook, clean and help out around the apartment, they said.
"She was a regular 22-year-old girl," said Cameron Campana, a club promoter who was a college student at the time. "Peppy. She seemed normal."
Another roommate, Nathan Lezniewicz, said Anthony liked going out and having a good time.
"She was not an introvert by any means," he said.
Lazzaro echoed their sentiments and also identified Anthony in several nightclub party photos, including a "hard body contest" in which Anthony danced in a short skirt. Prosecutors also showed jurors surveillance videos of Anthony and Lazarro going to the video store and shopping at JC Penny after the time Caylee was believed to be missing.
"She was the way she was every day — happy," Lazarro said.
Defense attorney Jose Baez got Lazzaro to describe more tender moments between the mother and daughter, including Anthony using educational "flash cards."
Anthony also once became startled and scolded her daughter for getting too close to the edge of the pool at Lazzaro's apartment complex, he said.
Maria Kissh, a girlfriend of one of the roommates, described riding in Anthony's car along with her roommates. Under questioning by Anthony's attorney, she said neither she nor any of the other passengers smelled any odor.
Prosecutors have said they believe Caylee's decaying body had been stored there, and the girl's grandparents noticed a foul odor when they picked up the car from a towing lot.
Prosecutors also called two women who worked at a nightclub where Casey helped Lazzaro promote parties. They both said that she helped coordinate and manage "shot girls," special waitresses who sold shots of alcohol to patrons.
Prosecutors said in opening statements that Caylee was last seen by her grandfather on June 16. Anthony waited a month before telling her mother Caylee had disappeared. Anthony's attorney claimed the toddler drowned and the girl's grandfather helped cover up the accident.
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