Appeals Decision Could Cause Casey Anthony to testify - WFLA News Channel 8

Appeals Decision Could Cause Casey Anthony to testify

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Casey Anthony with her daughter Caylee (file) Casey Anthony with her daughter Caylee (file)

An appeals court decision in Daytona Beach could determine if Casey Anthony will ever have to take the stand and explain at least part of what happened after the death of her daughter, Caylee.

The saga of the case returned to court Tuesday when her attorneys began oral arguments. They're asking three appellate judges to drop four counts of lying to law enforcement officers that Anthony was convicted of during her 2011 trial. They were misdemeanor charges. A jury acquitted her on the more serious charges for the murder of two year-old Caylee.

"The main challenge on their appeal," explained Tampa attorney Felix Vega, "that her statements were involuntary to the police during the course of the investigation from the time detectives went to her house until the time they did that infamous interview at Universal Studios."

The panel of judges must decide whether Anthony was in police custody when she made statements that led to her conviction. Attorneys representing the state argue she wasn't in custody, which means there was no need to read Miranda Rights to Anthony.

"There's a lot of people who have interviews with officers who don't ultimately... who are not ultimately charged with murder of a child," said attorney Wesley Heidt, who's representing the state. "{The officer knew} her story's not adding up. Where the story ends, no one knew at that point."

Anthony's attorneys say she was, in fact, in custody.

"Following the handcuffs, there wasn't a continuation of handcuffing and there was no ... evidence that anyone said, 'you're NOT free to leave,'" said Lisabeth Fryer, Anthony's attorney. "But there certainly is also no record that anyone says that ‘you were free to leave.'"

Because of the original Anthony trial, the State of Florida changed its laws dealing with lying to police.

"Now - instead of it just being a misdemeanor - if you lie to the police during a police investigation where a person under the age of 16 years old is missing ... that affects their investigation - it's now a third degree felony," Vega said.

It would mean five years in jail per count now that the law is different.

The appellate decision plays a role in the bigger picture. Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez is suing Anthony for defamation because Anthony claimed she last left her daughter with "Nanny Z." Fernandez said those statements caused a lot of problems for her and she's had to move because of it.

"What ended up happening is now - we're in a situation where they're trying to protect Casey Anthony and prevent her from testifying - her own lawyers are," Vega said. "So if these convictions get overturned - she may not have to testify in that civil suit."

If they don't get overturned, the question then becomes how the civil suit will play out. Vega says, if that happens, the legal community will be anxiously waiting to see what the judge allows in court since it would be a defamation claim in civil court.

"What is Casey Anthony going to say on the stand," Vega explained. "What is the judge going to allow her to say? What is the judge going to force her to say in the end?"

It will be some time before we learn what the ultimate fate of Anthony will be. Vega says it normally takes 3 to 6 months for appellate courts to come back with a decision.

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