Casey Anthony breaks down as jury selection begins in Pinellas County

By Jacqueline Fell and Adam Longo, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Monday, May 09, 2011

Nearly three years after the disappearance and death of Caylee Anthony, jury selection has begun in the case against her mother, Casey.

The place: Pinellas County.

Chief Judge Belvin Perry had kept the site of jury selection a closely-guarded secret until Monday morning. His reason for choosing a county outside Central Florida was to make it easier to find impartial jurors who have not been following the Casey Anthony case as closely as many in Orange County have.


Jury selection: Day 1
  • 68 jurors questioned
  • 21 asked to return (31%)
  • 47 dismissed for cause (69%)


The judge got down to business Monday morning as he, prosecutors and defense attorneys started weeding through 110 potential jurors.

He started by introducing them to the case against Casey Anthony. What the jurors know so far is that the 25-year-old mother has been indicted for first-degree murder.

Casey, herself, cried frequently as Judge Perry recited a prepared statement on facts of the case.

She was booked in the Pinellas County Jail on Sunday evening, and will stay there during jury selection, rather than be shuttled back and forth from Orlando.

As for her potential jurors, the judge gave them stern and specific instructions on what they should not do when they leave court for the day: Most importantly, don't research the trial on the Internet, and don't mention it on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks.

Day One dealt solely with eliminating jurors who would deal with hardship if asked to serve for six to eight weeks.

Judge Perry dismissed at nearly four dozen people who said they could not afford to take off work or be away from dependent family members.

Those jurors said their employers would not pay them, or they had to take care of their young children or elderly relatives.

Other jurors who spoke little English were dismissed because of the language barrier, though the defense tried to hold onto a few of them.

One young man said he was leaving for Alaska in two weeks with the Coast Guard. Judge Perry thanked him for his service and dismissed him.

Those who were called back will return later in the week for Round 2.

The judge briefly explained to them what their live would be like for the next six to eight weeks: The final jury would be sequestered in Orlando, but not completely. Perry said field trips are planned, phone calls are allowed, and jurors would even be allowed to have family members visit them on Sundays.

Overall, the judge was very warm and sensitive to what the jury candidates had to say, and did not appear to be the same no-nonsense judge we have seen during pretrial hearings.

Perry said he hoped to dismiss all such "hardship cases" on Monday, and quickly narrow down the jury pool.

When the remaining jurors return, Judge Perry will ask them how much they have been exposed to the Casey Anthony case in the media, as well as questions concerning the death penalty.

The defense and state attorneys will then ask their own questions to ask the candidates.

The Casey Anthony trial is expected to begin Tuesday, May 17, at the Orange County Courthouse.