Video: Casey Anthony trial set to start

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    >>> 2008 when a young mother in florida reported that her daughter, caylee, was missing. within months the mother, casey anthony , would be charged with the child's murder. the case has made headlines around the country and tomorrow the explosive trial begins. nbc's kerry sanders is in miami with more with a preview. kerry , good morning.

    >> reporter: well, good morning, lester. the nation has not seen a murder trial like this since perhaps the o.j. simpson trial . 340r than 500 reporters from around the world have requested credentials just to go to the courthouse to cover this trial. the judge is so concerned with pretrial attention he won't even reveal what florida city he's going to use to select the jurors. even before she was accused of murdering her own child, casey anthony 's story was captivating. a then 22-year-old mother whose adorable 2-year-old daughter, caylee, mysteriously disappears. but when details in the case began to come out, investigators said something didn't add up. the time line . she had waited 31 days to tell anyone her daughter was missing. and when she finally told her story, it was only under pressure from her mother, cindy. cindy had gone to the lot where the car casey was driving had been towed. then she dialed 911.

    >> there's something wrong. i found my daughter's car today and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car.

    >> reporter: repeated searches turned up no signs of caylee and then six months from when deputies began their investigation, her skeletal remains were found in the orlando underbrush, only a five-minute walk away .

    >> i certainly have never seen anything like this.

    >> reporter: from the beginning casey anthony 's legal team has said she is not guilty.

    >> she's not running from this. she has never attempted to run away from this situation.

    >> reporter: but the evidence prosecutors will present is compelling. photos of casey out partying in orlando when her daughter was allegedly missing. a single strand of caylee's hair in the car's trunk, the prosecution say came from caylee's dead body . and then the residue from a heart shaped sticker found on a piece of duct tape prosecutors will say was placed over caylee's mouth. in all jurors will hear about 25,000 pages of evidence in the case. because jurors will come from another florida city and they will be sequestered in orlando for the entire eight-week-long trial needing a 12 member jury will be a challenge.

    >> there will be many, many legitimate reasons why decent people that you might want on a jury like this can't serve. because of the hardship. being out of town, the duration of the case.

    >> reporter: one more challenge for the jurors listening to all the scientific evidence will be coming to the conclusion there was even a murder. the medical examiner ruled it's a homicide but officially it's a homicide by undetermined means which means the medical examiner can't say and prosecutors won't be able to present how caylee was murdered.

    >> kerry , let me go back a moment. you say jury selection is starting tomorrow. when will the judge even reveal the location where that's taking place?

    >> reporter: the jury selection will begin tomorrow at 9:00 a.m . and the judge says he will reveal that just beforehand. we don't know which city. and you know florida is a very big state. but they're going to have to spend at least a week trying to select the 12-member jury plus the eight alternates.

    >> kerry sanders , thanks. beth karas is a correspondent for "in session" on ittrutv. kerry mentioned the cause of death is even listed as a homicide but they can't tell the manner of the death. is this a hard case?

    >> well, it's a circumstantial evidence case and, you know what, circumstantial evidence cases can be even more compelling than when you have an eyewitness. eyewitnesses can make mistakes and they have made mistakes over the years but a circumstantial evidence case, all fl these legal bits fit together and there's no other explanation except for one, that she did it, will argue the prosecutors, can be very compelling.

    >> you take out the tape and the other pieces of scientific evidence and you seep the pictures of her partying when her child is missing, you are ought mat thecally automatically not going to like her but will you convict?

    >> is her behavior in that 31-day period and the statement she made to the police and then it's the forensic or scientific evidence and, you're right, it's hard to like her because of what she was doing during those 31 days. maybe they'll put her on the stand and have an explanation for it, also.

    >> casey 's mom tried to visit her in jail after months of not seeing her. what's the story with this relationship? when they meet that becomes public and that becomes problematic, right?

    >> right. and they didn't want yesterday's meeting, it had taken place, to be public. but that was never decided because the meeting didn't take place. the mother/daughter relationship is a volatile one. they love each other but they've had some problems and casey obviously opted to just not to rock the boat on the eve of trial.

    >> mom and dad become witnesses for the prosecution and the defense. i kind of understand that. but they're going to be allowed to sit in as a regular spectator. isn't there a fear that their testimony could be tainted by watching the others?

    >> that's a good question. but they have testified so many times under oath that their story is out there, sworn to several times. they're not the going to change their story now as they're sitting in the courtroom. they have a right as grandparents of that baby to be in the courtroom. we see witnesses sit in the courtroom, police officers sit in the courtroom, expert witnesses do. so there are exceptions to the rule.

    >> going back to the scientific evidence , what do you think is the most damning, the most problematic for her? is it the stain found in the car? is is it the smell?

    >> well, we don't know if the smell evidence is coming in. the that's pretty bad. i'll tell you, where the remains were found and how, tape wrapped around the head, a laundry bag inside a garbage bag , consistent with one inside the anthony home. the baby is found a quarter after mile from where casey and her parents lived in the wooded area where casey used to spend time with her girlfriends years before. that's pretty bad.

    >> a horrific story. maybe soon

By
updated 5/8/2011 5:34:12 PM ET 2011-05-08T21:34:12

The trial of Casey Anthony, the young mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, is drawing so much media attention that the judge is keeping the location of jury selection secret until the proceedings begin Monday.

At the center of this media maelstrom is the ponytailed, 25-year-old Anthony, who could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. She also is charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and providing false information to law enforcement. She has pleaded not guilty and says a baby-sitter kidnapped Caylee.

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

The heart-tug of a missing apple-cheeked girl contrasted with images of the hard-partying, single mother and proved irresistible to TV talk-show hosts and bloggers. The Anthony case became a media sensation, as HLN talk show host Nancy Grace gave her the moniker "Tot Mom." Protesters suspecting Anthony had a role in her daughter's disappearance demonstrated outside of the home Anthony shared with her parents.

So far, about 600 media credentials have been requested.

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

Caylee's decomposed remains were found in December 2008 by a municipal meter reader in woods not far from where the little girl lived with her mother and grandparents. Detectives said residue of a heart-shaped sticker was found on duct tape over the mouth of her skull. The local medical examiner, Jan Garavaglia, who once had her own national television show, "Dr. G: Medical Examiner," ruled that a cause of death could not be determined. The autopsy said that Caylee's bones didn't suffer trauma.

Some outside experts said the lack of a cause of death could make it hard to get a first-degree murder conviction

"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 will have to make strong links for the jury between the circumstantial evidence and Anthony, if they are to succeed, said LeRoy Pernell, dean of the Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando.

"Failure to show exactly what is the cause of death is a challenge, but it's not necessarily a fatal challenge," Pernell said.

In their arsenal, prosecutors have physical evidence and Anthony's own misleading statements to detectives, such as claiming that she worked at Universal Studios when she didn't. Prosecutors want to use evidence from the car Anthony was driving in the days before Caylee disappeared.

Forensic testing found in the car's trunk traces of chloroform, which is used to induce unconsciousness and also a component of human decomposition. In an emergency call to police, Cindy Anthony described the vehicle as smelling "like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

Jurors selected in the case will have to put their lives on hold for almost two months. They will be transported to Orlando and sequestered at a hotel. The estimated cost is $300,000.

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

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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