US & Canada

Casey Anthony: US mother cries in toddler death trial

Casey Anthony in court in Florida
Image caption Ms Anthony says a babysitter kidnapped her daughter

A mother accused of killing her two-year-old daughter in 2008 broke down in tears in a Florida courtroom during the opening statements of her murder trial.

Defence lawyers say Casey Anthony's daughter Caylee drowned in a pool in the care of her grandparents and that the grandfather covered up the death.

But prosecutors say the child died after tape was placed over her mouth and that Ms Anthony, 25, kept the body in the boot of her car for weeks.

The case has drawn intense scrutiny.

Caylee's decomposed body was found in December 2008 in woods near her house.

'Abused'

Casey Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, said a catalogue of family secrets led to the cover up of Caylee's death.

Mr Baez said Casey Anthony was abused by her father as a child, and alleged her brother made advances toward her and was given a paternity test to see if he was Caylee's father.

The lawyer suggested Caylee accidentally drowned in a family pool a day after her grandmother, Cindy, forgot to put up a ladder that prevented the toddler from climbing into the pool by herself.

The family panicked and didn't call the police, Mr Baez said.

"Casey should have called 911. That's what she's guilty of she's, not guilty of murder. This is not a murder case," Mr Baez said.

Mr Baez said Casey's father George Anthony planted duct tape matching the brand later found over Caylee's mouth in a way that would implicate Casey.

"George Anthony took certain steps to make sure he was as far away from this situation and that Casey would end up taking the blame for this," Mr Baez said.

'Chloroform'

But prosecutors said they have based their case on forensic evidence, which shows Ms Anthony kept Caylee's dead body in the boot of her car.

An autopsy was never able to conclude the toddler's cause of death.

However prosecuting lawyer Linda Drane Burdick offered up a theory for the first time on Tuesday that Caylee died after three pieces of duct tape were placed over her mouth and nose.

Everything Ms Anthony did was based on a web of lies, Ms Drane Burdick added.

"Casey Anthony... appeared to be... a loving mother, trying to provide support for her daughter," the prosecutor said.

"But as the evidence in this case will show, that was an illusion," she added.

During the month Caylee was missing, Ms Drane Burdick told jurors Casey went shopping, visited friends and hung out with her boyfriend.

She also described internet searches done on a computer at Casey Anthony's home that showed queries for chloroform, neck-breaking and alcohol.

Casey Anthony was emotional throughout the day, crying periodically and wiping her nose with a tissue.

Ms Anthony is also charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and providing false information to law enforcement.