The trial of Casey Anthony, who is charged with murdering her toddler daughter, will be a "battle of the experts" because of circumstantial evidence in the case, a judge said Thursday as he picked which specialists defense attorneys could hire with public funds.
Casey Anthony, 24, has been declared indigent, allowing public money to pay for expert witnesses and costs other than attorney fees.
During Thursday's hearing, Orange County Circuit Judge Belvin Perry denied requests to spend public money on four expert witnesses and forensic tests requested by Anthony's defense attorneys. The judge nixed a trace evidence expert, a cell phone expert, a jury consultant and money for a car to replicate evidence found in Anthony's car.
"A blanket order to seal, the court finds that the defense at this time has not met its burden to show that a serious and imminent threat to a fair and partial trial has been met," Perry said.
Perry approved spending public money on 10 other experts, including a bug expert, a forensic anthropologist, a forensic botanist and famed forensics expert Henry Lee, who has worked on the Phil Spector and JonBenet Ramsey cases. Those experts can give opinions on body decomposition based on plant growth and insects found around a body.
Experts will be paid the state's standard rate of $50 an hour, with a cap of the total number of hours.
Perry denied a request from Anthony's attorneys to seal all records related to the public funding of her defense. The defense attorneys had argued their release would jeopardize her right to a fair trial by revealing defense strategy.
Rachel Fugate, an attorney for The Orlando Sentinel, told a judge that the request was too broad.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty, claiming a baby sitter kidnapped her daughter. Anthony's murder trial is set to start in May 2011.
Caylee was 2 years old she disappeared in June 2008, but she wasn't reported missing until almost a month later. Her remains were found in December 2008 in woods not far from the home she lived with her mother and grandparents.
At a hearing last week, Perry discussed a possible change of venue for the trial.
The state said it will not oppose most of the defense motion for a change of venue, but that only means a jury would be chosen in another Florida city. The jurors would then be brought back to Orange County for the trial, which attorneys predicted could take up to nine weeks.
Although a ruling has not been made on the change of venue, Perry indicated that if it happens, the jury would likely be sequestered in a hotel room.
"It's no secret that this case has received widespread publicity," Perry said. "The only way ... to make sure that they are not infected or polluted during this proceeding is to sequester them."
Perry took over Anthony's murder case after Orange County Circuit Judge Stan Strickland recused himself. Strickland's move followed a defense motion asking that Strickland be disqualified over a friendship with a blogger.
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