LARGO — A marathon day of jury selection in the Casey Anthony trial ended Saturday with 12 Pinellas residents chosen to decide the fate of the 25-year-old accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter.
Circuit Court Judge Belvin Perry Jr. moved jury selection 100 miles from Orlando in an attempt to find unbiased jurors. The 2008 case has attracted a national media glare, and Perry's courtroom is packed with television cameras and reporters.
Saturday's proceedings went on for 10 hours, starting at 8:30 a.m. when lawyers gathered to continue a task started almost a week ago. The case needs 12 jurors and eight alternates, but Perry said Saturday he would begin swearing in jurors when 15 are seated. He ordered everyone back at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
On Thursday, Perry told attorneys they had to speed things up, and questioning Saturday took on a brisk tone. Almost immediately after being seated, jurors were asked their feelings about the death penalty, Anthony's innocence, whether they could summon mercy and how they felt about the media.
By lunch, nine potential jurors had been questioned, and eight were rejected. Most of those dismissed told the judge they thought Anthony, 25, was guilty of first-degree murder. One man said he posted the jury instructions on his Facebook page.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty and told investigators her daughter Caylee Marie was kidnapped.
After lunch, a 21-year-old department store sales clerk who spent an hour on the stand was sent home after prosecutors confronted him about a Twitter posting five years ago in which he said that "cops in Florida are idiots." Prosecutors said it was a sign of bias, and Perry reluctantly agreed.
Among the jurors selected Saturday were a 21-year-old man who described himself as an atheist studying to be a mechanic, and a retired nurse's aide who said she was a homebody with no Internet access.
A 43-year-old truck driver for a boat manufacturer with daughters ages 7 and 12 was also accepted, though he was reluctant.
"Do you want to be on this jury?" a defense attorney asked.
"No," the man said. "It sounds like an extraordinarily daunting task."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Luis Perez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.