Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Landov
05/24/2011 at 02:10 PM EDT
Casey Anthony's murder trial
began Tuesday with a stunning claim by the defense: that her 2-year-old daughter Caylee died of an accidental drowning, not murder, and her mother lied about it.
"She was never missing. She drowned in the family swimming pool," Casey's defense attorney Jose Baez told the jury in opening statements in an Orlando courtroom.
It was the first time Casey's side had presented in detail her version of events in the sensational case that started out as a gripping missing child investigation before turning to allegations of murder by the child's own mother.
Caylee had been reported missing in July 2008 and was found dead five months later, her remains lying in a wooded area less than a half mile from her Orlando home. By then, Casey, who hadn't reported Caylee's disappearance for a month, had already been arrested.
Casey's attorney acknowledged that the mother didn't tell the truth about the girl's disappearance, making up the story about a nanny who had been the last person with Caylee, but claims there was a reason.
Casey, her lawyer said, had been sexually abused by her father, accounting for her unusual behavior.
"You will hear stories about a family that is incredibly dysfunctional, you will hear about ugly things, secret things, things that people don't speak about," Baez said.