Jury selection underway in Casey Anthony murder trial in Clearwater

Trial expected to last eight weeks

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Pinellas County Jail is now Casey Anthony's temporary residence. She was booked into the facility before jury selection in her first-degree murder trial that began this morning in Clearwater.

Corrections officials say it's common practice to re-book a suspect when that person is transferred to another jail.

Word leaked out over the weekend that Pinellas County would be the location for the jury pool. Once seated, jury members will be transported to Orlando where they will be sequestered for up to eight weeks.

Casey Marie Anthony is accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in the summer of 2008. Caylee's remains were found six months later in a wooded area near her home.

News that the Pinellas Criminal Judicial Complex in Clearwater would be the venue for jury selection came shortly after 6 a.m. Monday. Things moved quickly after that and court proceedings were underway several hours later.

Casey, her hair in a pony tail, entered the courtroom around 9 a.m. 120 potential jury members were summoned for today's proceeding.

She wept as Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry made his opening comments which included the charges against her.

"We are about to begin jury selection the case of the state of Florida versus Casey Anthony. This is a criminal case," Perry said.

He warned those in attendance to not place postings on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

More than 500 media credentials have been issued for what's expected to be one of the most sensational trials in recent memory and arguably the biggest in Florida history.

The number of journalists expected to cover Anthony's trial may even dwarf the number assigned to the O.J. Simpson's trial 16 years ago, Judge Perry, said recently.

"I'm not naive enough to think we'll encounter no one who has heard of this case," Judge Perry said recently in court. "But the goal is to find people who have not been over-saturated with media."

Anthony waited a month before telling her mother that Caylee had disappeared in the summer of 2008. Anthony's mother Cindy then contacted authorities. Over the following weeks, hundreds of volunteers scoured central Florida in search of any clues to Caylee's whereabouts, but they were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, numerous photos surfaced of Casey Anthony drinking, some of them allegedly taken during that first month.

Caylee's remains were found by an Orange County meter reader in December. A cause of death could not be determined and an autopsy showed no signs of trauma to the bones.

Some experts feel that a lack of cause of death could make a first-degree murder conviction hard to come by.

"If you can't say how she died, you're kind of hamstrung on saying what the defendant's intent was," said David Hill, an Orlando criminal defense attorney. "What the state has going for them is the emotional, visceral appeal that the jury digs, but if the jury is doing their job, and the defense attorneys are doing their jobs, I would predict a conviction on the third-degree felony of neglect."

Prosecutors feel they have ample physical evidence along with misleading statements from Casey.

They want to use evidence from the car Casey was driving in the days before Caylee disappeared. Forensic testing found traces of chloroform in the car's trunk. The chemical is used to induce unconsciousness and is a component of human decomposition. In a 911 call, Cindy Anthony described Casey's vehicle as smelling "like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

Prior to jury selection proceedings, Perry ruled air samples from Casey's car that expert witnesses say are consistent with human decomposition will be allowed as evidence during the trial.

Jury selection is expected to take about a week to complete. The trial is expected to cost taxpayers around $360,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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