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Days ahead of trial's start, jury in Casey Anthony still not settled

By the CNN Wire Staff
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Two more join 10 others who are considered viable jury pool candidates
  • Twelve jurors and eight alternates must be picked before Casey Anthony's trial
  • Opening arguments are planned for Tuesday in Orlando
  • Anthony is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee, and then lying to investigators

Tune in to HLN's "Nancy Grace" at 8 ET Monday night for new details on the trial of Casey Anthony.

Clearwater, Florida (CNN) -- Jury selection in the Casey Anthony murder trial continued Saturday afternoon following the rejection of nine potential jurors, including one man who posted to his Facebook account that he had a "title, cover and all" ready for a book about the case.

Attorneys and Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. of the Orange County Superior Court had allowed four potential jurors through from questioning by day's end, one a 22-year-old man who said he paid no attention to the news and another a grandmother of a 2-year-old girl who described herself as "firm and fair."

Anthony, 25, is charged with capital murder in the death of her daughter, 2-year-old Caylee, whose body was found in woods near her family's home in 2008. She has pleaded not guilty.

She faces six other charges, including aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and misleading law enforcement.

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Jury selection is occurring at the Pinellas County courthouse. Candidates were questioned Saturday about everything from their news-watching habits to criminal records.

After questioning and quickly dismissing five jurors Saturday morning for reasons ranging from financial hardship to bias, lawyers and the judge began questioning a 22-year-old man who said he doesn't follow the news "because it's just awful."

Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Ashton questioned whether the man would be able to bear the grim details of the case.

"You've already told us you live your life avoiding unpleasant things like the news," Ashton said. "Are you absolutely sure you can do it?"

"Yes, sir," the candidate replied.

"No doubt in your mind?" Ashton asked.

"No, sir," the man replied.

When asked by lead defense attorney Jose Baez whether his decision would be influenced if Anthony declines to testify on her own behalf, the candidate said "I can definitely understand not wanting to be up here."

The line elicited laughter from nearly everyone in the courtroom, including Anthony.

Anthony's lead defense attorney sought to have the man dismissed for failing to disclose an entanglement with the law over apparent marijuana possession, but the judge refused. He was ordered to stand by for possible duty.

Perry later approved the dismissal of a man who posted on his Facebook page what the potential juror said was a joking reference to a "book coming soon" after announcing he had been called for potential jury duty on a big trial.

"Already have the title, cover and all," Assistant State's Attorney Frank George said in reciting one of the posts.

Also dismissed was a woman who said she had lost a son in a car accident that required an extensive police investigation. She said she viewed the charge that Anthony had lied to investigators as evidence of "guilt by omission."

During the afternoon session, Perry dismissed a man who said he was irrevocably opposed to the death penalty.

After extensive questioning by attorneys, he told a grandmother who remembered "sweet pictures" of Caylee but said she had no preconceived notions of the case to stand by for duty.

The two other jurors who will be contenders for the final jury pool are a woman in her 60s who doesn't own a computer, and a 43-year-old man who said that while he's occasionally seen newspaper headlines that suggest Anthony is guilty, he said he is able to set that aside.

"I've also read that Donald Trump is an alien, and that Elvis is still alive and living in Graceland," the man said.

At the end of the rare Saturday session around 5:30 p.m., the judge said the court would be in recess until 8:30 a.m. Monday.

In allowing the four candidates Saturday to pass to the next phase, the judge and attorneys increased the pool of potential jurors who have not been dismissed for one reason or another to 12, although attorneys still have until the jurors are sworn in to seek their dismissal, according to the judge.

Perry said he would begin swearing in jurors once the number of unrejected candidates reaches 15.

Coming into Saturday's session, eight people were considered viable candidates for the jury.

Twelve jurors and eight alternates will eventually be seated on the jury, which will be moved to and sequestered in Orange County, where the alleged crime happened and where the trial will take place.

Jury selection was moved from Orlando to Clearwater amid intense media coverage of the case, which could make it difficult to select an impartial jury.

Perry said Friday that it is imperative to seat a jury as quickly as possible before more potential jurors are swayed by the media coverage.

"The longer we wait, the more dangers there are," he said.

The goal is to have everything finalized for opening arguments Tuesday in Orlando.

Prosecutors have said they plan to show Anthony used "a substance" to kill her daughter. The girl's skeletal remains were found in December 2008 in woods near the Anthony home after she went missing for six months.

In Session's Michael Christian contributed to this report.

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