The state attorney, whose office lost the Casey Anthony murder trial, said on Wednesday that it was “disturbing” his prosecutors were unaware they could have argued that, on the day her daughter disappeared, Anthony performed a Google search for “foolproof suffocation” and visited a website discussing death by poison, suffocation and plastic bags.
In an exclusive interview with Local 6, Lawson Lamar said, “The fact that computer evidence was missed is something that is disturbing and I wish we'd had it. …I think it’s instructive to everyone involved to try not to miss evidence.”
During Anthony’s 2011 trial, his prosecutors used what little physical evidence they had to argue Anthony used poison (chloroform), suffocation (duct tape) and plastic bags to murder her daughter, Caylee, and dispose of her body.
Lamar, whose office covers Orange and Osceola counties, lost this year’s election to Jeff Ashton, one of the prosecutors he assigned to the Anthony case.
“I don't know how they didn't get it,” Lamar said of the failure by investigators and prosecutors to find the evidence on the Anthony family computer hard drive. “I'm not a computer expert, but we didn’t have it … We had no clue it was out there. If we did, the world would have seen it.”
Lamar declined to criticize the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which failed to produce the evidence despite being asked by his lead prosecutor to extract Internet history for June 16, 2008, the day Caylee disappeared. The Local 6 revelations prompted Lamar to seek a discussion with Orange County sheriff Jerry Demings, but that has yet to take place.
Lamar defended his office’s handling of the case.
“We did our job. We put the evidence on that we were given,” he said, adding, “I know that the people who did their job were people of integrity and if we had it we would have used it and that's the bottom line.”
Asked if his office shared blame (because it did not ask for the browser records until less than two months before trial, and then was not very specific in its request), Lamar said: “The prosecution is not the computer expert set in this case. (We) asked for evidence which was probative of the case. We didn’t get a piece of probative evidence. My people are not computer experts.”
The sheriff’s computer examiner, Sandra Osborne, was introduced by the state as an expert in the trial. She is the investigator who was incapable of extracting the evidence, though a defense expert did so after the hard drive was turned over by the sheriff’s office to the defense.
“Every prosecutor wants good investigation and every prosecutor will prompt investigators, but I think that Linda Drane Burdick, who is a superb prosecutor, was absolutely blind to the absence of this material. If she'd had any clue as to its existence, she would have drilled down for it,” Lamar said.
Reminded that there was a clue -- that prosecutors knew since 2008 that Casey Anthony used a Mozilla Firefox browser that included a search in March 2008 for “how to make chloroform” – Lamar said, “I have no idea about that clue being available or not.”
Lamar leaves office in January after 24 years as state attorney and will be succeeded Ashton, who has named Burdick his top deputy. Demings, who was re-elected sheriff, continues through a spokesman to defend Osborne and the competence of his computer forensics section.
So, Lamar was asked by Local 6, "why should the public be confident anything will change in the future investigations?"
“I think this incident becomes instructive for all those persons who had their hands in the case … I would hope, lesson learned. As we go forward in life, we find out things as we go and I know that if Linda had known it, it would have been adduced in the courtroom.”