Casey Anthony Trial: Cable News Broadcasts Defense Closing Arguments

AP Photo/Joe Burbank, Pool

The court proceedings, which have propelled HLN to record ratings, included attorney Jose Baez calling the prosecutor a "laughing guy."

Attorneys for the prosecution and the defense in the Casey Anthony murder trial were reprimanded during closing arguments Sunday, as the trial that has gained a national audience nears an end.

Lead defense attorney Jose Baez pointed to prosecutor Jeff Ashton and called him "That laughing guy over there," reports CBS News. Baez said Ashton had been laughing at him during his closing argument.

Baez’s action was in violation of a court order that the defense and the prosecution would not address each other during the proceedings.

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Chief Judge Belvin Perry stopped the closing arguments and spoke to the attorneys privately, having them review video of the incident. Ashton said he had not been laughing, but rather had been smiling, CBS reported. The judge concluded both attorneys had violated his order, and both apologized.

It was the latest in a string incidents in which Perry had reprimanded the attorneys for breaking his rules.

Afterwards, Baez was allowed to complete his closing statements, where he questioned the scientific integrity of the prosecution’s expert witnesses, and repeated his assertion that Caylee was not murdered, but instead drowned in the family pool.

The trial of Anthony, who is accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008, began on May 24, and has meant big ratings for cable news, especially HLN. The network has enjoyed its highest ratings ever, propelled by afternoon coverage of the trial and end of the day analysis on shows such as Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew.

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For the month of June, HLN averaged 982,000 total viewers with 292,000 in news’ target demographic of 25-54-year-olds. Nancy Grace trailed only The O’Reilly Factor for the top 8 pm news slot.

The jury will begin deliberation Monday. If found guilty, Anthony could face the death penalty.

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