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St. Petersburg man in Casey Anthony case: 'I just wanted to get out of jury duty'

LARGO — Many people have probably thought about it, but Jonathan Green was the only person summoned for the Casey Anthony murder trial who flat-out said it:

"I just wanted to get out of jury duty," Green, a potential juror from St. Petersburg, said Wednesday.

Green was thrown out of the jury pool and fined $450 for contempt of court after he admitted to talking to someone about the murder trial, even though a judge had warned him and others not to.

So went another day of questioning and controversy during jury selection for the unusual murder trial that will require 20 Pinellas County residents to live in Orlando for six to eight weeks to hear the highly publicized case.

Anthony, 25, is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in Orlando in 2008. A massive search finally yielded the child's remains months later.

The case generated so much news that Orange-Osceola Judge Belvin Perry decided to get jurors from Pinellas County, where media coverage has been less intense, and where people may not have formed opinions about Anthony's guilt or innocence.

But this creates a challenge. Not only do the judge and lawyers have to find fair and impartial jurors — always a complex task in a death penalty murder case — they also need to find people who can afford to leave their homes, families and jobs for as long as two months.

The situation prompted Perry to suggest Wednesday that maybe he should seek jurors at the nearby homeless shelter, Pinellas Hope, a comment that raised eyebrows and prompted Internet chatter.

As for Green, the 35-year-old Publix employee approached a journalist to discuss the case during lunch break. The matter was reported to authorities, and Green was hauled before the judge. That's when he admitted doing so to get out of jury duty.

"I'm leaving, I'm leaving," he said as he walked out of the Pinellas Criminal Courts complex followed by reporters.

Other potential jurors gave reasons that the judge and the lawyers found legitimate. Some had medical problems. One was pregnant. Several owned or managed businesses that could not survive their absence. Some said they are living on unemployment benefits, which require them to look for work, which might be hard during a two-month murder trial.

But more than 60 have said they could do it, even though the duty will require them to live away from home and receive just $30 per day. Judge Perry said he could offer them a nice hotel, good food, transportation, television (but no news) and even occasional side trips.

For her part, Anthony wiped away tears periodically during the day. She briefly left the courtroom in the late afternoon, walking gingerly and looking as though she was in pain. But after a few minutes, she returned and sat next to her defense attorneys.

The jury selection is expected to possibly conclude Saturday. Lawyers still need to ask potential jurors about their views on the death penalty and whether they can be fair and impartial.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

St. Petersburg man in Casey Anthony case: 'I just wanted to get out of jury duty' 05/11/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2011 10:01am]
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