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Casey Anthony murder trial focuses on 'trash' versus 'garbage'

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Several witnesses have testified that in the summer of 2008 Casey Anthony’s car contained a strong odor that resembled the stench of a decomposing body.

This is where the distinction between trash and garbage becomes crucial. Defense lawyers say the stench in Anthony’s car was a result of her mistakenly leaving that plastic bag of “garbage” in her car trunk for several days in Florida’s hot summer sun.

Prosecutors counter that the stench is the lingering evidence of the mother’s crime against her daughter. A plastic bag of “trash” is incapable of producing such a strong and distinctive smell, they say.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that investigators found maggots and other insect activity on a wad of paper towels in the white plastic bag. Prosecutors have suggested that the paper towels may have been used to clean up fluid that had flowed from Caylee’s decomposing body while it was still in the car trunk.

Dr. Haskell was asked a hypothetical question that directly tracks the state’s theory in the case. If the body of a young child was stored in the trunk of a car for some time and then moved, would that fit with the insect activity he had found?

“Absolutely,” Haskell testified.

He said based on the type of insects he’d found in the paper towels he estimated the body would have been in the car trunk three to five days.

On cross-examination, Defense Attorney Jose Baez challenged Haskell’s assumption that whatever was on the paper towels that attracted the insects must have come from human decomposition. Wouldn’t left-overs from a restaurant forgotten in a hot car attract the same flies, Mr. Baez asked.

Not that quantity, Haskell said.

That’s when Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton asked Haskell the difference between trash and garbage.

“To my thinking garbage is primarily decomposing organic material,” he said, “versus trash which is any inorganic stuff you are throwing out.”

Haskell said the insects he studies are searching for decomposing organic material, both animal and plant, to “colonize and try to raise their kids in it.”

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