CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A jury is expected to be sworn in Wednesday in the murder trial of an Orlando woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter after the judge's attempts to seat one on Tuesday were thwarted by last-minute challenges by attorneys.
Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee, whose decomposed body was found with duct tape over the mouth of her skull in December 2008 not far from where she had lived with her mother. If convicted, the toddler's mother could face the death penalty.
Jury selection is being held in the Tampa Bay area because of intense pretrial publicity in Orlando. Anthony has pleaded not guilty in the death of her daughter and said a baby sitter kidnapped the child.
Once the jury is chosen, Perry will grant them one day off before transferring them to Orlando to be sequestered for an expected eight-week trial.
The prosecution and defense each exercised peremptory challenges Tuesday that kept the selection process of potential jurors going, despite beginning the day with 17 prospects that had cleared the three rounds of questioning over the first seven days of choosing.
Questioning has focused on prospective jurors' exposure to pretrial publicity, possible hardships of a prolonged trial and personal beliefs on the death penalty.
Tuesday concluded with 11 jurors that meet those criteria. Judge Belvin Perry said that a pool of about 20 prospective jurors remains that haven't been through pretrial publicity and death penalty questioning.
Just before Perry was going to call for a dozen jurors be sworn-in, the defense used its sixth challenge on a previously retained woman that has a 2-year-old child, knocking the pool back down to 11.
That prompted a clearly frustrated Perry to remind the attorneys just before the lunch break that the pool of unquestioned jurors was dwindling.
"Both sides, you do realize these are the only jurors we have," Perry said. "...I'm just letting you know that the well runs dry after this."
The first prospect after lunch was excused for cause before a middle-aged woman was accepted, pushing the number back up to 12. Perry was again about to swear them in before the defense used another challenge to keep the process going.
Defense attorney Jose Baez also objected to not being able to view the remaining pool of prospects that had been questioned only about personal hardships because of serving jury duty. Perry denied that objection.
Perry then sent the remaining 11 prequalified prospects home and continued to question new ones from the general pool. Of the five that were questioned by attorneys the rest of the afternoon, only a 53-year-old man was held over for Wednesday.
When the selection process started last week Perry said he wanted 20 total jurors, including eight alternates. But he has since indicated that he may settle for fewer alternates.
"The magic number is I have to have this thing complete," Perry said at the end of court Tuesday.