CLEARWATER, Fla. – Nine women and eight men were sworn in as jurors Friday for the murder trial of a Florida mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.
The swearing in concluded an exhaustive selection process that lasted nearly two weeks and was hampered by several delays, including an outburst in the courtroom Friday.
Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee. Anthony has pleaded not guilty and has said a baby sitter kidnapped the child.
The girl's 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, Casey Anthony could face the death penalty.
Jury selection was held in the Tampa Bay area because of intense pretrial publicity. More than 200 potential jurors were questioned, many of them excused. A juror purposely talked to a reporter in order to be dismissed, an entire panel of 50 prospects was tainted by a potential witness and Anthony's lead defense attorney missed a day for personal reasons.
The oddest distraction may have when a woman sitting the courtroom yelled: "She killed somebody, anyway" in the direction of Anthony while the judge was questioning a prospective juror.
The woman, Elizabeth Rodgers, was quickly escorted out by deputies and Judge Belvin Perry sent the potential juror to a holding room.
Rodgers, 29, was crying and hyperventilating when she was brought before the judge a few minutes later. With tears and mascara rolling off her cheeks, she attributed her actions to being bipolar and said she was on medication.
"I never meant to hurt nobody," she said. "... Please don't punish me ... I may have made a mistake, but I'm not a bad person."
Perry held her in contempt of court and sentenced her to two days in jail. The potential juror was excused, and a visibly upset Perry slammed his hand down in frustration.
The trial is set to begin Tuesday.
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