Published May 13, 2011
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jurors in the trial of an Orlando woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter will likely view photos of the child's remains and be asked to sniff evidence, a prosecutor said Thursday on the fourth day of jury selection.
Prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick asked one potential juror in Casey Anthony's murder trial if he had any qualms about viewing images of the child's remains or smelling evidence. Prosecutors hope to use a novel forensics test of air from Anthony's car during the trial. Anthony's mother had described the car as smelling like death in a 911 call to dispatchers.
"You may be asked to smell an odor that is unpleasant," Drane Burdick told the juror candidate.
After all juror candidates were dismissed for the day, Circuit Judge Belvin Perry warned prosecutors that having them smell evidence during the trial may turn them into "lay witnesses" which isn't allowed.
Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing daughter Caylee in 2008. The first three days of jury selection were spent narrowing down a pool of 200 possible people. Those who weren't dismissed because of personal conflicts or hardships advanced to Thursday's round.
Jury selection was being held outside Orlando because of intense pretrial publicity. It slowed to a snail's pace as the 11-hour day was spent questioning only four prospective jurors. All four were asked to return for more questioning, but a fifth potential juror was dismissed after he told the judge his employer would not pay him during an absence if he were to be picked for the six-week trial.
Pretrial publicity was the focus of much questioning. Prosecutors and defense attorneys asked prospective jurors about newspapers, television shows or Internet sites that might have exposed them to pretrial publicity. Defense attorneys were particularly wary of viewers of the "Nancy Grace" show since it has devoted scores of hours to the case.
The lawyers also asked prospective jurors about their opinions on the death penalty, a possible sentence if Anthony is convicted of first-degree murder. The first potential juror said he was for the death penalty, the second described himself as "in the middle" and the third said he wasn't for it but "I'm not against it." The fourth prospective juror said that while she valued life she didn't necessarily think the death penalty was wrong.
Well-known Florida defense consultant Rosalie Bolin sat at the defense table. In 1996, Bolin married convicted serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin Jr.
Potential jurors were asked by an Anthony attorney if they would consider a dysfunctional family, brain development and "a lack of maturity" as mitigating circumstances against the death penalty, if the trial reached that stage.
The pace of selection was so slow that Perry apologized to almost five-dozen prospective jurors who hadn't yet been questioned and sent most of them home in the afternoon on the condition they return Friday.
Earlier in the day, he chastised attorneys for spending three hours questioning the first potential juror.
"Jury selection was not and never was designed to pre-try a case," said Perry, chief judge of the circuit that includes Orlando.