By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel –
ORLANDO, Fla. — Attorneys for Zenaida Gonzalez agreed in principle on Thursday to not mention Casey Anthony’s murder trial during her upcoming defamation trial, if they can avoid it.
However, the murder trial could be mentioned on specific topics individually approved by the judge, such as to challenge the testimony of witnesses.
Anthony’s murder trial was among the most talked-about in Central Florida’s history. So her lawyers wanted the judge to block any mention of that notorious case from her upcoming trial in Gonzalez’s defamation lawsuit.
Attorneys for Anthony and Gonzalez discussed that issue Thursday morning at the Orange County Courthouse, and the two parties largely agreed — something they haven’t done often in the hard-fought suit.
“I don’t foresee us in a civil case saying, ‘X, Y and Z happened in the criminal case,’” Gonzalez attorney John Dill said.
Anthony’s attorney Charles Greene, meanwhile, acknowledged that “there may be points where something about the criminal proceedings come up indirectly.”
The parties agreed that they would have to bring up the murder trial during jury selection, in order to determine the extent of jurors’ knowledge of the case. After that, any references will have to be cleared by the judge.
In their motion, Anthony’s attorneys had asked Circuit Judge Lisa Munyon to block “any evidence, comment, or other reference by counsel of any witness in this case concerning” Anthony’s highly publicized murder prosecution and trial.
“The criminal proceedings are not relevant to any issue in this case,” the defense wrote in its motion. “Moreover, any evidence, comment, or reference to the criminal proceedings… would be unduly prejudicial to Ms. Anthony.”
In July 2011, Anthony, now 26, was acquitted on all major charges in the death of her daughter, 2-year-old Caylee. Gonzalez is suing because Anthony initially told authorities in 2008 that a similarly named nanny had kidnapped Caylee.
Authorities determined, and Anthony’s criminal defense acknowledged at trial, that the girl was dead, and the nanny didn’t exist.
The motion was based on a ruling by Munyon in April, which threw out part of Gonzalez’s lawsuit. The part that remains centers on a videotaped visit Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony, made while their daughter was in jail.
In the video, Anthony denied that she had ruled Gonzalez out as a suspect. Gonzalez’s lawyers say Cindy Anthony relayed that information to the media, thrusting their client further into the media firestorm surrounding the case.
The suit is currently set for trial in January, but both parties indicated they have more motions to file and argue. The next court date in the case is Oct. 30, when Anthony’s team will argue to move the trial away from central Florida.
Anthony remains in hiding, as she has been since her acquittal. She has been subpoenaed to appear at the civil trial.