Casey Anthony Trial Starts With Defense Motions on Evidence, Jurors Rejected

Judge denies defense team's motion to toss some evidence, 100 potential jurors.

May 09, 2011, 7:43 AM

May 9, 2011 — -- Casey Anthony's murder trial began today with her defense team's first motions to eliminate certain evidence and reject an entire jury pool rebuffed by the presiding judge.

Anthony is accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Although the trial will take place in Orlando, jury selection is taking place in Clearwater, Fla., in an effort to find 12 unbiased jurors and eight alternate jurors. Judge Belvin Perry, trying to curb the intense media interest in the case, did not reveal the site of jury selection until early this morning.

Defense attorney Jose Baez objected to the first 100 people in the juror pool, arguing that they weren't representative of Orlando's demographics. In the pool, there were only two Hispanic and four African Americans. Perry denied the defense's objection.

Potential jurors will undergo two rounds of questioning and be asked their stance on the death penalty. Perry hopes to wrap up jury selection by the end of this week so that the second part of the trial can begin May 17.

The selected jurors will be transported to Orlando where they will be sequestered in a hotel for the length of the trial. The trial is expected to last two months.

"In Pinellas County [Clearwater], it's got one of the oldest demographics in the state of Florida and has often been referred to as God's waiting room…you're going to see an older skewing jury which typically means conservative," said Nancy Grace on "Good Morning America."

At today's hearing, Perry also denied the defense team's effort to exclude air tests from a carpet sample taken from Anthony's car. The carpet sample tested positive for chloroform, a chemical associated with decomposition. The chemical is also used to render a person unconscious.

When Caylee's disappearance was first reported in 2008, Caylee's grandmother said her daughter's car smelled like a dead body was in there.

Since Casey Anthony's mother reported her granddaughter's disappearance, public interest in the toddler's death has mounted. The number of journalists covering the trial might dwarf the number assigned to the O.J. Simpson trial in the 1990s.

"The pretrial publicity I've seen in this case is unprecedented in the state of Florida," the judge said.

Casey Anthony Trial Gets Underway

Caylee disappeared in the summer of 2008. The child had been missing for a month before Anthony told anyone and when she did, it was her mother who called 911.

"I can't find my granddaughter. There's something wrong. I found my daughter's car today and it smelled like there's been a dead body in the damn car," said Cindy Anthony in the July 2008 call to police.

During the search for Caylee, Anthony lied to investigators about her job. She said that she worked at Universal Studios, even taking investigators to the theme park. Anthony had no steady job. She occasionally worked at a nightclub selling shots to partiers.

Anthony also told investigators that she had been conducting her own investigation into her daughter's disappearance and claimed that she'd left her daughter with a babysitter who later vanished.

Instead of searching for her daughter, photos showed Anthony partying during the first month of her daughter's disappearance.

"It's going to be very tough for this mother to explain why she was doing and saying the things that she was in the days and weeks after her daughter disappeared," ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said.

Anthony has been criticized for not only partying in the months after her daughter's disappearance, but for showing little emotion and even laughing in jailhouse conversations with family and friends.

Caylee's body was found just blocks from the Anthony home. The body was too decomposed for medical examiners to determine a cause of death. Anthony was charged with murder in October 2008 and could face the death penalty.

"Some jurors are going to say I don't know a cause of death, how do I know it's not an accident… Others will say, why should I give her a gold star because the body decomposed for so long, we can't tell a cause of death," Grace said.

The "guilt phase" of Anthony's trial is scheduled to begin May 16, and if Anthony is found guilty, the penalty phase would immediately follow.

Sitting front row in court will be George and Cindy Anthony, grandparents of the murdered and parents of the accused. Last week, Casey Anthony refused a jailhouse visit from her mother.

Jurors for Casey Anthony Trial Being Picked in Clearwater

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 of this kind 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, but before her body was found.

ABC News' Dean Schabner and Emily Friedman contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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