Skip to main content

Jury sworn in to weigh whether Florida mother murdered her daughter

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Casey Anthony jurors announced
  • NEW: A defense lawyer said he wanted more juror challenges, but was overruled
  • The jury includes 7 women and 5 men, plus 5 others picked as alternates
  • Opening arguments will begin Tuesday morning, the judge announces
  • They will determine if Anthony is guilty of murdering her 2-year-old

Clearwater, Florida (CNN) -- A jury was sworn in early Friday evening to decide the fate of Casey Anthony, the Florida mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

The 11-day selection process produced a jury of seven women and five men. Two are thought to be African-American, while the rest are white.

Anthony is charged with capital murder in the death of her daughter Caylee. The 25-year-old Florida woman, who could be sentenced to death if convicted on that count, is also charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and misleading law enforcement.

In addition to the 12 jurors, five people -- two females and three males -- will serve as alternates. Orange County Superior Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. had originally said he wanted eight alternates, but said last Monday, "We will have what we will have."

The group was chosen following a sometimes contentious hearing at the Pinellas County courthouse in Clearwater. The jury pool was chosen from that county -- and not Orange County, about 110 miles to the northwest, where the alleged crimes occurred -- because authorities hoped to draw from a jury pool that was less likely to have been swayed by the intense media coverage surrounding the case.

Woman interrupts Anthony jury selection
Outburst in Casey Anthony trial
Caylee Anthony murder case captivates
  • Casey Anthony
  • Florida

One of Casey Anthony's attorneys, Jose Baez, said the defense wanted more than the 10 peremptory challenges that it was allowed. He told Perry, "We do not ... we do not accept the panel as seated."

The judge overruled those objections and, prior to swearing in, both the defense and prosecution accepted the jury. Perry then detailed instructions for jurors, including that, "at no time can you speak at any detail (about) anything related to the case."

Now that they are seated, the jurors will move to Orlando, where they will be sequestered for the duration of the trial, which could last eight weeks. Perry said that -- after consulting with the new jury, which needed time to prepare for being away -- opening arguments will begin next Tuesday morning.

The jury does not include a white woman who was being questioned Friday about her opinion about the death penalty when a woman yelled out from the gallery, "She killed someone anyway!"

Later, the woman who interrupted the court proceedings -- 29-year-old Elizabeth Ann Rogers -- appeared before Perry. She apologized, said she was "mentally challenged" -- with bipolar and attention-deficit disorder -- and had dropped by the courtroom while she was in Clearwater for another legal matter involving her fiance, who is in jail.

Perry declared her in contempt of court and sentenced her to two days in the Pinellas County Jail. He noted she had the right to appeal, while Rogers asked if she could start serving her sentence immediately.

"Any act which is calculated to embarrass or hinder the court in the administration of justice is contempt," said the judge, who slammed down his pen in dismissing the potential juror because he feared she'd be swayed by the outburst.

Perry also excused a man who said that he thought Anthony was guilty based on conversations he had overheard in the jury room.

"I heard a lot of opinions about her being guilty," the man said. "She should be sent to jail. They were all negative. I didn't hear any positive."

Caylee was last reported seen in June 2008. Police began to look for her one month later, after Cindy Anthony -- Casey's mother -- made three 911 calls expressing concern over her granddaughter's disappearance.

The girl's skeletal remains were found in December of that year, in woods about one-quarter mile from the Anthony home. Prosecutors have said they plan to show Casey Anthony lied repeatedly about her daughter, contending that she used "a substance" to kill her daughter, put her body in the trunk of her car, then disposed of it.

Anthony has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Early in the jury selection process, defense attorney Ann Finnell raised a host of potential mitigating circumstances to gauge what would-be jurors might consider if they had to decide whether to sentence Anthony to death. Those circumstances included a "lack of maturity," "lack of impulse control" and "a history of sexual abuse."

InSession's Michael Christian contributed to this report.