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Casey Anthony jury selection could be coming to Pinellas on Monday

Casey Anthony looks at the prosecutor during a hearing  in October 2009 at the Orange County Courthouse.

Associated Press (2009)

Casey Anthony looks at the prosecutor during a hearing in October 2009 at the Orange County Courthouse.

LARGO — Somewhere in Florida on Monday, lawyers will start picking a jury in the high-profile murder case against Casey Anthony, the Orlando mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

The trial will take place in Orlando, but to find jurors who have not seen as much news coverage on the case, they will be picked elsewhere in the state.

The presiding judge has refused to say where that will happen.

But in Pinellas County this week, court officials have been preparing the criminal courthouse on 49th Street as if something very big is coming.

The building's largest courtroom has been cleared of other proceedings for early next week. A healthy number of people have been summoned for jury duty on Monday and Tuesday. And media parking spaces outside the courthouse have been cordoned off.

Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady refused to comment on whether jury selection for the Anthony case is coming to Pinellas.

"Any information on where that case is going to go has to come from Orlando," he said.

About the schedule in the large Pinellas courtroom, Pinellas-Pasco courts spokesman Ron Stuart said: "There's nothing I can tell you."

A spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which handles security at the courthouse, said she could not provide details on preparations for Monday and Tuesday. She referred a reporter back to the courts.

Pinellas Clerk of the Circuit Court Ken Burke referred a reporter to Chief Orange-Osceola Judge Belvin Perry.

Casey Anthony, 25, is accused of killing her daughter Caylee Marie Anthony in 2008. The case drew international news coverage as police searched for months for the girl's remains, which eventually were found about a quarter-mile from the Anthony home.

Because of the media glare, the Orange-Osceola courts have ruled that jurors will be selected from an undisclosed location outside that Central Florida region. While the case is well known across the state, the media coverage in the Orlando area has been even more intense.

After jurors are selected, they will be transported to Orange County for the trial.

In all court cases, judges want to find jurors who will make their decisions based on evidence they hear in court, not on media coverage. This can be difficult in high-profile cases like this one, in which potential jurors may have read or watched coverage about the case, and decided if a defendant is guilty or innocent.

It's only the extreme cases in which courts go outside of their normal jurisdictions to find jurors. For example, a high-profile double-murder case from Fort Myers was tried in Pinellas in 2009.

But this case would be somewhat different because after jurors are picked, they will be transported to Orange County, where they are expected to be sequestered.

Perry was so intent on keeping the jury selection site a secret that he initially wanted media outlets to sign a confidentiality agreement. Those signing the agreement would have learned the site Sunday, as long as they promised not to report it until later. Media outlets objected, and an appeals court rejected the plan.

The court has said the location of jury selection will be announced Monday.

Information from the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report. Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8232.

Casey Anthony jury selection could be coming to Pinellas on Monday 05/06/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 11:07pm]
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