While the state now says it would have argued the search showed her interest in killing with poison, suffocation and plastic bags, the defense would have countered the computer user was researching suicide and, as Baez wrote, George Anthony "was the only one out there trying to kill himself."
The timeline could support one of any number of other possibilities, including one Baez did not raise, but could have used to his advantage: that Caylee did, in fact, die in an accidental drowning and George and Casey Anthony agreed they would conceal the death. But, after George Anthony left to dispose of the body and go to work, Casey Anthony went online to consider suicide that afternoon.
Still, why she would search for "foolproof suffocation" and not, say, "how to commit suicide," is another unanswerable question – and one of many.
Baez concedes the records are open to interpretation, and notes browser data alone cannot conclusively prove who was using a computer at any given time. And, he stressed, several of his experts independently confirmed the search in question occurred an hour earlier than the records provided.
While he argued in his book someone "signed on to" George's AIM account that afternoon, the records show it was Casey Anthony’s account. Informed of that, Baez now notes the login may have been automatic whenever someone started a browser. Even so, browser records indicate Casey's password-protected account is the only one that generated a login to her AIM account, as it did just before the foolproof suffocation search.
George Anthony’s attorney, Mark Lippman, said he would relay a request to George Anthony for comment on what happened that afternoon, but neither has responded.
In our October interview, Baez at first agreed George Anthony was at work by 3, but -- after Local 6 challenged his timeline -- he noted last week his assumption was based on work schedules, not time-stamped cards, and on George Anthony's unverified testimony.
He also said his expert found some computer system files with times that support his contention the browser's reported times were off by an hour. But those records have not been released and, therefore, cannot be verified.
So, 16 months after a verdict that shocked the nation, the case continues to leave heads shaking.
How could a massive investigation fail to uncover crucial evidence created during the most important hours of its most important day?
And why didn't prosecutors request the records sooner, making a more forceful, specific, wide-ranging demand for every byte of data on the computer browser, then followed up more vociferously, utilizing the vast array of experts and resources available to the sheriff's and state attorney's offices?
The incoming state attorney, Ashton, said he "can't think of a policy or procedure I could put in place to make sure this wouldn't happen again."
He repeatedly cited Burdick's asking the Sheriff's Office for June 16 browser data, saying, "It appears Linda's question covered the material."
But that request came less than two months before jury selection in a case that had consumed investigators and prosecutors for nearly three years by then.
The Sheriff’s Office said its computer forensics section, where Osborne is still employed, “is walking away from it knowing there are things we can do better in the future.”
The sheriff’s computer examiners had other problems with evidence.
The times associated with the chloroform searches in March 2008 and produced by the Sheriff’s Office were, indeed, off by an hour, because the software they used to extract it did not take into account the change to daylight saving time on March 9, 2008.
Also, in trial, the sheriff’s independent computer consultant inaccurately testified the browser made 84 visits in March 2008 to a page that showed a recipe for making chloroform. The defense proved the software was flawed and there was only one visit – a major blow to a state case that rested on circumstantial and scientific evidence.
Still, the Sheriff’s Office stands by its work.
“We have reviewed this incident and have confidence in (Osborne’s) ability to provide current and future computer forensic analysis,’ the sheriff’s statement read. “ We have reviewed our procedures and based on the needs of a future investigation, we will seek outside assistance and expertise as deemed appropriate on a case by case basis. “
For Humphrey and Goetz, who easily uncovered from afar what the Sheriff’s Office and prosecutors were unable to find for years, the failure to do whatever was necessary to get to those browser records still leaves them astounded.
"I'm just really surprised by that," said Humphrey."I don't want to comment on their competence. I think the prosecutor and Sheriff’s Office both had a huge job before them on this case and they both obviously worked very hard.”
But, asked if she would have done more to make sure the state had the entire computer browsing history from that crucial day, Humphrey said, “Certainly, if I had been in the prosecutor's office, I would have."