Cost to Fund Casey Anthony Jury Might Jeopardize Trial, According to County Clerk

Accused killer Casey Anthony's trial is scheduled to start in May.

ByEmily Friedman
March 18, 2011, 2:02 PM

March 18, 2010 — -- The high-profile trial of accused child-killer Casey Anthony is at risk of being suspended or canceled because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost to sequester a jury for the Florida case, according to a county official.

Lydia Gardner, the Orange County clerk of circuit courts, said in a statement that without more funding, the court might not be able to afford Anthony's May trial.

Because of the media attention, a jury will be brought in from an undetermined location outside Orange County and will therefore have to be accommodated.

The estimated cost to support 20 jurors for eight weeks is more than $360,000, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court spokeswoman Karen Levey said.

"Judge [Belvin] Perry was trying to get a handle on the cost associated with the jury sequestering, and the price includes the estimated cost of lodging, meals and transportation for the jury," Levey said.

But Gardner said that unless the state Senate allocates more money to the court, the trial, which she calls one of the states "most notorious murder cases," will be in jeopardy.

"What is in question is whether or not this trial will be suspended or canceled if the clerk is not able to meet her statutory responsibility to pay the jurors for their service," Gardner said. "As you are aware, this trial in particular has garnered not only local attention, but also national and even worldwide attention.

"The Florida Senate has proposed a 5 percent cut to our budget in the [fiscal-year] fourth quarter, just as the Anthony trial is scheduled to begin," she said. "If the Senate proposal goes through, the trial is in jeopardy of being canceled or suspended."

But the judge set to preside over the case, Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., has said that no such suspension or cancellation will occur.

"Judge Perry is going forward with the case on May 9," Levey said. "He has no plans to cancel or discontinue this case. This is going forward."

Anthony, 24, is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was 2 when she disappeared in June 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty.

More Than $48,000 for Meals

Caylee's disappearance wasn't reported until July 2008, nearly a month after she disappeared. Her remains were found in December, less than a mile from the home she and her mother shared with the toddler's grandparents.

Her death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means.

Included in Levey's breakdown of the jury's expenses is $2,240 for laundry, more than $48,000 for meals and $128,000 for extra court clerks requested by the judge, as well as security for the weekend trial dates.

Juror hotel rooms and use of a common area will cost about $137,000.

The "guilt phase" of Anthony's trial is scheduled to begin May 16, with jurors to be chosen starting on May 9. The penalty phase, if Anthony is found guilty, will immediately follow.

Lawyers for Casey Anthony are trying to convince a judge that the mom suspected of killing her daughter Caylee was not properly read her rights and that key statements by Anthony should be thrown out of her upcoming trial.

Among the remarks that could be at risk are Anthony's statement to Florida police that her missing daughter was with a babysitter named Zenaida Gonzales. Police eventually determined that Anthony did not know a babysitter named Zenaida Gonzales.

Losing key testimony such as that could make it difficult for prosecutors to get the conviction of first-degree murder -- and the death penalty -- that they are seeking.

Anthony's defense is also trying to rule out jailhouse videos and statements she made while in jail where she talked to her family and visitors in the days while Caylee was still listed as missing and before her body was found.

Defense attorney Jose Baez did not immediately return messages left by ABC News about the cost of the jury.

State prosecutors have said that they will seek the death penalty for Anthony if she is convicted.

ABC News' Kaitlyn Folmer contributed to this report.

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