As the first-degree murder case against 25-year-old Casey Anthony continues to unfold in an Orlando courtroom, both sides agree on one stunning point: after the disappearance of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, the young mother buried herself – and those around her – under an avalanche of lies.
Throughout intensely emotional testimony from her parents Cindy and George Anthony, prosecutors exposed layers of untruths that began to pile up in the 30 days Caylee was missing before Casey told anyone she was gone.
Defense attorney Jose Baez opened the trial with a series of bombshell claims as to what happened to Caylee – and why Casey lied about it for 30 days. Among his allegations: Caylee drowned in the Anthony family pool, and Casey’s father George, who had sexually abused Casey as a child, helped keep Caylee’s death a secret. (George has vigorously denied both claims.)
“It felt like Jose Baez threw everything against the wall and is seeing what sticks,” Orlando criminal defense attorney Richard Hornsby tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.
The risk, says Hornsby, “is throwing everything together and saying there was some conspiracy. Everyone did something wrong – but not Casey. That’s not realistic.”
Still, Hornsby says the drowning claim may be persuasive to a jury, especially after testimony from several of Casey’s friends that she was a caring mom.
“A jury is going to ask, how could you go from being a good mother to a sociopath who killed your daughter in one day?” says Hornsby. “Drowning is a plausible explanation and one that a jury can grasp.”
For more on the Casey Anthony trial, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday