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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prosecutor: Caylee Anthony may have been killed

ORLANDO, Fla. — Prosecutors said Tuesday that the case of a missing 2-year-old is beginning to look like a homicide, and her mother is a person of interest, though she has not been charged.

Casey Anthony does face charges connected with lying to investigators, and Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland set her bond at $500,000 Tuesday, saying the law did not allow him to hold the 22-year-old without bail.

He said he set the amount extraordinarily high because he was worried about evidence of human decomposition allegedly found in Anthony's yard and car. Her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, has been missing since mid-June.

"Not a bit of useful information has been provided by Ms. Anthony as to the whereabouts of her daughter," Strickland said in ordering the bail. "And I would add that the truth and Ms. Anthony are strangers."

Anthony is charged only with child neglect, making false official statements and obstructing a criminal investigation. Authorities say she did not report the girl missing until last week.

Sheriff's deputies said her car smelled of decomposition, and a cadaver-trained German Shepherd noted a smell of human remains in the car and her yard. They said they found a stain, dirt and what seemed to be piece of Caylee's hair in Anthony's trunk.

"The risk of her flight if she is released on some low bond increases exponentially, especially now that she's heard this additional evidence and that she is their person of interest," said assistant state attorney Linda Drane-Burdick.

Defense attorney Jose Baez requested bond around $10,000. He said Anthony's family can't pay a high bond and she has the right be free while facing only low-level charges.

"This is not a capital case, and if it were they certainly would file it, if they had evidence to," Baez said. "There is circumstantial evidence of a possible homicide, I will give them that. But circumstantial evidence has not made them confident enough to charge her with any specific homicide or kidnapping, or any capital offense."

Anthony's parents became concerned after her car was towed from a check-cashing business where it had been parked for days. She and the child lived with her parents, and she told them she worked as an event planner at an area theme park.

Investigators say Anthony was unemployed, and the woman she claimed was a baby sitter for her daughter seems never to have existed. The two hadn't been home in about a month before investigators were notified that Caylee was missing.

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