CLEARWATER -- The judge in the trial of an Orlando woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter said he expects to begin swearing in jurors this morning.
Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee, whose 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, the toddler’s mother could face the death penalty.
Chief Judge Belvin Perry originally envisioned an earlier start to the trial proceedings, but jury selection has taken longer than expected.
Once the jury is chosen, Perry will grant them one day off before transferring them to Orlando to be sequestered for an expected eight-week trial.
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Hurricane Conference under way in South Florida
FORT LAUDERDALE -- Emergency managers, meteorologists, first responders and government officials are getting ready for hurricane season.
The annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference is under way this week in Fort Lauderdale. More than 1,740 people from 59 Florida counties, 28 states and three foreign countries are to attend.
Woman pleads guilty in school lockdown case
FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Florida woman has pleaded guilty to making threats last year that prompted an hours-long lockdown at the nation’s sixth-largest school system.
Ellisa Martinez entered the plea Monday at a hearing in Fort Lauderdale federal court. The 48-year-old New Port Richey woman admitted sending e-mail and telephone threats involving guns and schools to a conservative radio talk show host.
The Nov. 10 lockdown affected some 275,000 students at 300 Broward County schools. Martinez fled Florida and was later arrested by the FBI in Southern California.
Martinez faces a maximum five-year prison sentence to the charge of making threats in interstate commerce.
Talk radio host Joyce Kaufman received the threats after agreeing to become chief of staff for Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West. She later decided not to take the job.
Security guard slain at St. Petersburg apartments
ST. PETERSBURG -- A security guard has been found slain at a St. Petersburg apartment complex.
Police spokesman Mike Puetz says Critical Intervention Services reported around 2 a.m. Monday that they were unable to contact or locate a security guard at the Mariners Point Apartments.
Officers found 26-year-old Mathew Little of Tampa lying near the complex’s pool and tennis court area about an hour after gunshots were reported in the area.
Puetz says Little had been shot at least once above his bulletproof vest. Little was pronounced dead at the scene.
The security firm’s CEO tells the St. Petersburg Times that Little checked out to go on foot patrol just before 1 a.m.
Puetz says Little’s gun was missing from his holster but detectives concluded that he wasn’t shot with his own weapon.
Scott names Chartrand to Board of Education
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Ponte Vedra Beach business executive Gary R. Chartrand to the State Board of Education.
Chartrand was named Monday to replace T. Willard Fair, who blasted Scott in his letter of resignation for forcing out Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith.
The board is conducting a search to replace Smith, whose resignation is effective June 10.
Chartrand is executive chairman and former CEO of Jacksonville-based Acosta Sales and Marketing. The firm markets grocery products.
According to Chartrand’s website, he led efforts to bring the “Teach for America” program to Jacksonville. It places teachers in disadvantaged schools.
He’s also chairman of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and on the board of the KIPP charter school in Jacksonville, where Scott recently held a bill signing ceremony.
AG skeptical about Medicaid fraud study
TALLAHASSEE -- Attorney General Pam Bondi expressed skepticism Monday about plans for a study to measure Medicaid fraud and abuse in Florida.
At a meeting of the state’s new Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Strike Force, Bondi questioned whether ERS Group, a Tallahassee economic research firm, could do a study at all much less get it done by July 1 as planned under a state contract.
Bondi, the panel’s vice chairwoman, told ERS economist Charles Mullin that a similar nationwide study by the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association failed to come up with an answer.
Mullin told the panel he was confident the firm could develop statistical models to help detect fraud but acknowledged more time may be needed to get them right.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who chairs the panel, said he could extend the deadline if need be.
-- Herald wire services