The circus surrounding the Casey Anthony case reared its ugly head again Thursday when a 28-year-old restaurant server made an obscene gesture toward an attorney in the courtroom.
Matthew Bartlett, an employee of TGI Friday's in Orlando, Fla., was sentenced to six days in the Orange County Jail and ordered to pay a $400 fine plus $223 in court costs after he was found in contempt of court by Judge Belvin Perry for flipping his middle finger.
The courtroom theatrics were revealed late in the afternoon after the jury overseeing Anthony's first-degree murder trial was dismissed for the day.
A visibly agitated Perry called Bartlett to the front of the courtroom and showed him a photo of a man flipping the bird at District Attorney Jeff Ashton earlier in the day. Bartlett admitted he was the man in the photo making the obscene gesture.
Perry then held up a sign that had been posted outside the courtroom door that read, "Any gesture, facial expression or audible comment showing approval or disapproval during a court proceeding is absolutely prohibited."
"Can you read and write?" Perry asked Bartlett.
"Yes sir," he replied.
"Did you not read this sign, sir?" Perry inquired.
"I have read that," Bartlett said.
Bartlett did not offer any explanation for his alleged action, other than to say that it was "stupid."
"I'm not sure why I even did it," he said. "I do apologize."
Perry told Bartlett he had six months to pay his fine and court fees. When Bartlett said he wished to appeal, Perry appointed him a public defender. The young man was then handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
Bartlett is the second person to be held in contempt during the trial. The first, 29-year-old Elisabeth Rogers, was sentenced to two days in the Pinellas County Jail for an outburst during jury selection. Rogers, who was watching the proceedings, blurted out, "she killed somebody anyway."
Rogers claimed she is bipolar and mentally challenged. She also said she had not planned to say what she did. Perry found Rogers in contempt and said that if she were not disabled he would have sentenced her to 179 days in jail.
Just two weeks ago, a fight between would-be courtroom observers prompted Florida's Orange County Courthouse to change the way seating passes are handed out at Anthony's trial. That scuffle came about three years after protester fights broke out in front of the Anthony family home when Caylee was reported missing.
Casey Anthony, 25, is accused of multiple charges including capital murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and misleading law enforcement in the death of her two-year-old daughter. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.
Deliberations in the murder trial could begin as early as Saturday.
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