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Why was Casey Anthony’s murder trial abruptly recessed?

The judge in the trial of Casey Anthony, accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, mysteriously and abruptly recessed the case on Saturday morning saying only that “a legal issue has arisen.”

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Chief Judge Belvin Perry (L) confers with defense attorneys Cheney Mason (C) and Jose Baez (R) at the Orange County Courthouse during the trial of Casey Anthony in Orlando, Florida Saturday June 25. The session of Anthony's first-degree murder trial was scuttled by an unspecified "legal issue" announced by Perry.

Red Huber/Reuters

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The judge in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, mysteriously and abruptly recessed the case on Saturday morning saying only that “a legal issue has arisen.”

The jury in the closely-watched trial was set to hear more than five hours of testimony on Saturday with potential witnesses already gathered in the hallway outside. But the jurors were never brought into the courtroom.

Instead, Chief Judge Belvin Perry made his surprise announcement after a flurry of activity with counsel for both the defense and the prosecution. He said the trial would be in recess until Monday at 8:30 a.m.

IN PICTURES: Key players in the Casey Anthony trial

Most of the discussions took place in the privacy of the judge’s chambers, but apparently with a court reporter present to maintain a legal record.

The unexplained action touched off immediate speculation – virtually all of it uninformed.

Some wondered whether a possible plea deal might be in the works. Other analysts suggested the judge’s abrupt move may have been triggered by fresh allegations of violations of a court order that expert witnesses must disclose the full substance of their testimony in reports due earlier this year or face exclusion from the trial.

The judge has already cited Defense Attorney Jose Baez for willfully violating that order. Judge Perry suggested a second violation would be dealt with harshly.

At the close of proceedings on Friday evening, the lawyers raised two issues that might have expanded overnight into a trial-delaying problem for the judge.

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