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Jury contamination takes center stage in Casey Anthony trial

8:17 PM, May 10, 2011   |    comments
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Casey Anthony sits in a Pinellas courtroom during jury selection of her murder trial.

Clearwater, Florida - Who would have thought that a random pick of driver's licenses would have lead to jury contamination in one of the most high profile cases of this decade?

A volunteer with the Texas group EquiSearch was going to be a potential witness in the Casey Anthony trial. Anthony is accused killing her 2-year-old girl, Caylee, in 2008.

The only problem: the volunteer was also set to be a potential juror in the trial.

The judge ended up dismissing the woman, in addition to roughly 50 potential jurors, because she was talking with others in the grand jury room about the case.

Also see: Casey Anthony's jail menu

On the first day of jury selection, Judge Belvin Perry gave explicit instructions to potential jurors to not talk about the case at all amongst themselves or with family members at home.

The entire panel had to be dismissed, with a new group returning for questioning on Wednesday. The judge said he was not taking any chances for problems in the trial.

Meanwhile, the case is receiving so much attention that people from other states are taking interest.

Two women who don't even know each other are now becoming fast friends. Diane Driscoll is from New York and Jennifer Jeffords is from North Carolina. Both are intense followers of the case since the very beginning.

They are visiting their children in Florida, only this trip doesn't include long days at the beach. They are spending their time in a court room while visiting their children in the Bay area.

Diane told 10 News, "I'm so concerned for justice for Caylee. I think sometimes she's put on the backburner. We need to bring her forward and concentrate on justice for her."

They would like to see more people talking about Caylee.

"How could a mother, if she is guilty, do this to her little chilld?" asked Diane.

Jennifer echoed, "Same thing, I just can't imagine, can't imagine hurting my own child. Can't imagine that."

Attorneys like Jay Hebert say it's going to be a difficult and tedious process to pick a jury, but it has to be done right. "I think this is a slow process. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. It's really about a job done right," said Hebert.

The longtime attorney has handled numerous high-profile cases.

He added, "Who's high risk? Well, if I'm defense, I'm concerned about single moms. I'm concerned about single moms raising their children. I'm concerned about grandparents because there's some indication that grandparents have some role in this."

One man who's wife is a potential witness said, "I hope she doesn't get picked. We're supposed to move. There's no way they'll get a jury by the end of the week."

Several single mothers told the judge that they were unable to serve because of child care issues. An elementary school teacher seemed willing and able to be a juror, while the sole owner of a local, longtime family-run hardware business was not. Another man who runs foster and group homes for neglected and abused children said he was absolutely unable to serve because of his job.

Local attorneys say that prosecutors are most likely looking for educated people who will understand scientific evidence, while the defense would want just the opposite.

The judge still has to go through the death penalty qualification, asking potential jurors whether or not they could put Casey Anthony to death if she's convicted. Then, potential jurors will also be questioned as to how much media coverage they've been exposed to in the case.

If potential jurors make it through all of those qualifications, then they could be a part of the final 12 jurors and 8 alternates. The jury is set to spend up to 8 weeks in Orlando for the trial.

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