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Trial begins for man who led Hernando County deputies on a fatal car chase

BROOKSVILLE — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Michael James Anthony, who faces charges of attempted felony murder, attempted second-degree murder and five other crimes stemming from a two-county, high-speed car chase in 2011 that injured a Hernando County sheriff's sergeant and killed a deputy.

During the chase, deputies said, Anthony, 37, rammed into patrol car driven by Sgt. Brandon Ross, forcing him to crash into a pickup truck and then a utility pole in Masaryktown.

Following the crash, authorities said, Anthony continued south into Pasco County with Hernando Deputy John Mecklenburg in pursuit.

Mecklenburg was killed after he lost control of his cruiser and struck a tree on the side of U.S. 41 in Pasco.

Anthony, who is being represented by defense attorney Dean Livermore, still faces charges of murder and other felonies in Pasco County as a result of Mecklenburg's death. Prosecuting the Hernando case will be Assistant State Attorney Bill Catto.

Opening arguments in the case, which is being heard by Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr., are scheduled to begin today.