CLEARWATER, FLA. -- The Casey Anthony first-degree murder trial is moving forward, as the effort to pick a jury in this high profile case nears completion.
After 10 days, 14 potential jurors have been selected but not sworn in. Judge Belvin Perry is adamant that a 12-member jury will be seated by midday Friday; however, both sides still have two more chances to challenge for cause. If that happens, the process could be extended into the weekend.
The start of Anthony's trial comes nearly three years after the search for her two-year-old daughter Caylee captured the nation's attention. Some 1,500 to 1,800 people scoured the area near Anthony's home, making it one of the largest searches ever for a missing child.
Caylee was last seen on June 16, 2008, and officials found her remains in December 2008 near her family home. Casey Anthony, 25, has long maintained her innocence, claiming her daughter was abducted by a babysitter.
Anthony is accused of multiple charges, including capital murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and misleading law enforcement. The prosecution seeks the death penalty.
Perry had initially expected the jury selection process to take one week, but on May 9, the first day of jury selection, roughly 50 percent of those in the pool of about 200 potential jurors were excused after citing personal hardship.
Day two of jury selection began with the judge dismissing more than two dozen potential jurors who discussed how Anthony allegedly killed her daughter while seated in a private room.
Drama in the case continued on day three when the judge found a male juror to be in contempt and fined him $450 for attempting to discuss the case with television producers. In the ensuing days, contenders displayed more disturbing behaviors, including one potential juror allegedly posting on the Internet and that another enjoyed a graphic song parodying Anthony and her murdered daughter entitled "My Trunk."
Many speculated Wednesday that a possible plea deal was in the works when Perry suddenly brought a halt to the proceedings, but the rumor was not borne out. Jury selection resumed at 8:30 this morning. No official reason for the delay was announced, but it was reportedly due to the sudden illness of lead defense attorney Jose Baez.
Jury selection is ongoing today, and this is what the jury looks like so far:
- No. 1340 is in his 40s, married and works for a medical courier service. He is white and supports the death penalty.
- No. 1398 is a 68-year-old, married, white female with two children and three grandchildren. She is a retired nurse who supports the death penalty.
- No. 1019 is an African American, married male in his 30s or 40s who has two kids. He is an information technology employee. He said he is against the death penalty and initially thought Casey Anthony was guilty.
- No. 1055 is a white female nursing school student in her 30s. She is single and said she supports the death penalty.
- No. 1319 is an African American female in her 50s. She is single and said she does not read the newspaper. She said she supports the death penalty but does not like to judge people.
- No. 1429 is a white female in her 60s who is divorced and has an eleventh grade education. She is a retired nurses’ aid who was arrested for DUI in the late 1990s but not convicted.
- No. 1028 is a 33-year-old white male who works as a chef and restaurant equipment company representative. He is a married father of two.
- No. 1007 is a white, 41-year-old child welfare administrative assistant who is divorced. She is against the death penalty, and her uncle is a sheriff.
- No. 3308, a 39-year-old white married male, works as a water plant manager. He believes in the death penalty and heard the Casey Anthony parody song on the radio. He has prior law enforcement experience and harbors a distrust of law enforcement.
- No. 3015 is a white female in her 50s who is married, the mother of two and works at Verizon. She said her father was in law enforcement and that she supports the death penalty.
- No. 3185, an unmarried 53-year-old white male, is unemployed. He previously worked at a vocational college. He has no opinion about Anthony’s guilt or innocence but said he has heard people say that they think she is guilty.
- No. 3310 is a male 57-year-old white male, who works at Verizon.
The members of the panel could change, as both sides can still invoke their two remaining challenges.
Once the jury is seated, Anthony's trial will take place in Orlando. The jury will be sequestered, and the trial will last an estimated six to eight weeks. About $500,000 has already been spent on the Anthony case, and officials estimate her trial will cost Florida taxpayers an additional $360,000.
Media coverage of Anthony’s trial is expected to outweigh that of O. J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial, which was often referred to as the "trial of the century."