Experts predict prosecution, defense strategies for Anthony trial

Richard Hornsby: Casey won't testify. Mark NeJame: She will call death accidental. Bill Sheaffer: Defense may commit to a strategy right away.

Blame it on the nanny. Blame it on the meter reader. Blame Caylee Marie's disappearance and death on someone, anyone other than her mother.

In the nearly three years it took to get here — opening statements in Casey Anthony's trial are scheduled for Tuesday — various defense theories briefly captured our attention and then fizzled.

Now that the guilt phase of her trial is at hand, the legal experts who have watched this case carefully and know it best say she has few defense options remaining.

The prevailing thought is that her defense team will continue to point the finger in another direction — this time at her family and, particularly, Casey's father, George Anthony.

One of the more provocative takes on that approach comes from Mark NeJame, who at different times has represented George and Cindy Anthony and the search group that looked for Caylee's remains nearly three years ago.

NeJame envisions Casey Anthony taking the witness stand and explaining the "accidental death" of her daughter. She then might attribute her lies, her actions and her failure to report the child's death to fear of her father, according to the prominent Orlando attorney.

"They will develop a story in which she maintains that she lied and covered up an accidental death for fear of some sort of physical response from her father, as untruthful as that might be," NeJame said. "To me it's inescapable that that's the direction they're heading in. It's still fraught with land mines, but that's still their best defense."

It's pretty apparent the defense will direct blame at George Anthony, NeJame and others say, by reading the "tea leaves" of this case:

•Casey Anthony's defense team has tried to have George and Cindy Anthony kept out of the courtroom during the trial, so they don't have to witness their daughter "throwing them under the bus."

•Her witness list includes individuals who have seen George Anthony angry and hostile.

•And despite thorough questioning during two weeks of jury selection, her attorneys have opted against asking potential jurors about their knowledge of the earlier defense theories: that the nanny took the baby, or the meter reader who found her had something to do with it.

Suggestions of abuse by George Anthony surfaced earlier in the case, and a recently filed deposition has Casey Anthony's former boyfriend Anthony Lazzaro recalling how the woman spoke of physical abuse by her father.

Even the Anthonys' current lawyer, Mark Lippman, has said the defense appears to be directing blame at her parents while emphatically denying they — and especially George Anthony — had anything to do with Caylee's death.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her daughter. If she is found guilty as charged, she could face a death sentence.

Defense attorney Richard Hornsby, who is not representing Casey Anthony, agreed that the defense appears poised to blame the Anthonys' parenting — and George Anthony to a great extent — while pursuing the accidental-death theory.

But he doesn't entirely agree with NeJame. Hornsby doubts defense attorneys José Baez and Cheney Mason would allow Casey Anthony to take the stand. Aside from concerns about coming across as an "uncaring person," Casey Anthony would have bigger problems testifying, Hornsby said.

"[Assistant State Attorney] Jeff Ashton would destroy her on the stand," Hornsby said. "You couldn't prepare Casey Anthony enough for Jeff Ashton."

Casey's car is strong evidence

Something, however, will be needed to blunt the force of the prosecution's case, which observers say centers on Casey Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire.