Brother takes stand in Casey Anthony trial

Lee Anthony testifies in the murder trial against his sister Casey Anthony at the Orange County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with murder in the 2008 death of her daughter Caylee. If convicted, she could be sentenced to death. (AP Photo/Joe Burbank, Pool)

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:52 p.m.

ORLANDO — The brother of a Florida woman charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter recounted to jurors Wednesday his unsuccessful efforts to track down his sister during the month when the toddler was missing, before the child’s disappearance was first reported to authorities.

Lee Anthony testified on the seventh day of Casey Anthony’s murder trial that he tried to track down his sister at a nightclub, by text messaging and by telephone calls in early July 2008 but was repeatedly unsuccessful.

Anthony is on trial for first-degree murder for the death of her toddler, Caylee. If convicted, she could be sentenced to death. She has pleaded not guilty and her defense attorney says Caylee died in an accidental drowning in the family’s swimming pool.

Caylee was last seen by her grandparents in mid-June 2008. Casey Anthony waited a month before telling her family the toddler was missing. Her mother then called authorities. Anthony has said she was conducting her own efforts to find her missing daughter, but prosecutors contend Anthony was going to nightclubs, shopping and hanging out with friends during that month.

Anthony wiped tears from her eyes as her brother testified that on the night of July 15, 2008 he had questioned his sister about why Caylee hadn’t been seen by her family in weeks and wasn’t home in the house she shared with her mother and grandparents. Anthony told her brother that Caylee was with a baby sitter and that she didn’t interrupt her sleep schedule by getting her, Lee Anthony said.

“Nothing was making sense to me,” Lee Anthony said. “Why couldn’t anybody get Caylee and bring her home?”

After a few minutes more of questioning, Anthony told her brother that she hadn’t seen her daughter in 31 days and that the baby sitter had kidnapped her, Anthony also said she had received a phone call from Caylee that very day, Lee Anthony said.

Earlier in the morning, Anthony’s former best friend was cross-examined by Anthony’s defense attorney about their friendship.

Brother Lee Anthony was the latest family member to testify in Anthony’s trial. Her mother, Cindy Anthony, broke down in tears on the witness stand Tuesday when prosecutors played a 911 call in which Cindy Anthony reported her granddaughter missing.

Cindy Anthony testified about a car that Casey Anthony had been driving. The car was abandoned and then towed to a lot where her father, George Anthony, picked it up in mid-July 2008. In the 911 call, Cindy Anthony described the odor in the car as that of a dead body.

Lee Anthony also described the car’s odor as potent.

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