Casey Anthony's Lawyers Call For Mistrial, Ask Court To Reconsider Death Penalty

06/27/2011 06:53 pm ET | Updated Aug 27, 2011

Casey Anthony's defense team filed a motion Monday asking the court to reconsider the death penalty, a direct response to a recent Florida court ruling in which a Miami federal court judge found the death penalty unconstitutional.

Monday's motion argues that the death penalty would be "in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and ... the Florida Constitution."

The motion cites the June 20 decision by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez to grant a new sentencing hearing to a convicted killer. In making his decision, Martinez found that the way the death penalty is handed down in Florida is unconstitutional because juries, unlike judges, are not required to explain what aggravating factor or factors led them to justify execution.

Martinez's ruling does not strike down Florida's capital punishment law, but it is proving to be a thorn in the side for lawmakers. Criminal justice experts have also voiced concerns that the decision will result in a flurry of appeals by the recently convicted, the Miami Herald reported.

In their motion, Anthony's legal team is asking the court to "declare a mistrial in this case and begin jury selection anew with a non-death-qualified jury."

Anthony, 25, is accused of multiple charges, including capital murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and misleading law enforcement in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

Judge Belvin Perry has yet to issue a ruling.

This latest motion comes just two days after Anthony's attorneys attempted to have her declared incompetent.

On Saturday, court recessed early when the defense filed a motion that Anthony be examined by a psychologist to determine her competency.

"Counsel reasonably believes that Ms. Anthony is not competent to aid and assist in her own defense and is incompetent to proceed," read the motion, which in full ran for two pages.

In response, Perry ordered forensic psychologists Dr. Harry A. McClaren of Chattahoochee and Dr. Ryan C.W. Hall of Lake Mary as well as psychologist Dr. Daniel Tressler of Altamonte Springs to evaluate Anthony at the Orange County Jail.

This morning, Perry announced he had reviewed the reports and said that all three of the psychologists had determined Anthony was competent to stand trial.

"The court will find that the defendant is competent to continue to proceed. Those reports will be filed, but pursuant to law those reports will remain under seal," Perry said.

After Perry made his ruling, court proceeded as usual, with the defense calling several witnesses to the stand for the trial's 29th day -- most notably Kenneth Furton, a forensic and analytic chemist. Furton was called to offer his opinion on air samples taken from Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire.

Furton testified that there is currently "no instrumental method that has been scientifically validated to the level that it could be used to identify the presence or absence of human decomposition."

The prosecution contends that Anthony suffocated her daughter and kept her body in the trunk of her car for several days before dumping it in a wooded area near her family home. At the beginning of the trial, Baez told the jury Caylee died on June 16, 2008, when she drowned in her family's swimming pool.

A variety of products that were among trash found in Anthony's car could have contributed to the foul odor inside the vehicle, Furton testified.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Jeff Ashton was granted permission by Perry to allow jurors to smell some of the items allegedly taken from Anthony's trunk for themselves. Ashton then passed three items around, including a Velveeta box. Some jurors sniffed the items, while others chose not to. What if anything they concluded as a result of smelling the samples remains unclear.

Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.


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