ORLANDO, Fla. - Restaurants located near the Orange County Courthouse are gearing up for a surge in business when the Casey Anthony trial comes to town.
Jury selection for the trial will begin in another city on Monday, but when the trial moves back to Orange County, downtown Orlando will become a lot more crowded. A motel near the courthouse has already begun to fill up with media members, attorneys, witnesses and members of the public hoping to view the trial in person.
Spectators and media from across the country will gather outside the Orange County Courthouse on Orange Avenue for the trial. Nearly 600 members of the media are expected to come to Orlando for the trial.
Rental companies are trucking in portable offices that will become mini newsrooms for journalists stationed at the courthouse.
Crews have already begun setting up a special stage across the street to accommodate the media.
Mike Brooks is a law enforcement analyst for CNN, Headline News and TruTV. He said few trials have attracted the kind of national media coverage that the Anthony case has.
"It is going to be one of the most interesting cases I have seen in quite some time," Brooks said.
Only 33 news organizations, including CNN, People, Newsweek and Local 6, have seats in the courtroom, the rest will camped out outside.
A fenced-in plot of land next to the courthouse has been given the nickname "Casey Town." It will have electricity, water, telephone, Internet access and food vendors, but trial attendees are bound to spill out of Casey Town, and nearby businesses are getting ready for them.
Hoops Tavern bartender Evy Cummings said she never imagined the Anthony trial would be good for business, but now, her staff is stocking up on beer, food and other supplies to brace for the extra people the trial will bring through the doors.
"We're expecting a crowd, hopefully a good one. We're looking forward to it, actually," Cummings said.
Dozens of local businesses have participated in the building of Casey Town, as well. Stage and lighting companies, plumbers, electricians and rental facilities have all been put to work.
Julian Serjani owns Fratelli's, an Italian restaurant next door to the courthouse. He said he expects his restaurant to be mobbed during breakfast and lunch.
"It's like having a baby for the first time," Serjani said. "You're excited, but you're scared. That's how we feel right now."
Serjani said his restaurant will open two hours early for each day of the trial, which will run Monday through Saturday, and he will double his staff. His workers will prepare boxed meals for customers to grab in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Anthony's attorney Jose Baez filed a motion Thursday afternoon objecting to Anthony's parents, George and Cindy Anthony, sitting through the entire trial. Typically, witnesses are not allowed to sit in on testimony before they take the stand, but Florida law allows victims' families to attend trials. Judge Belvin Perry is expected to rule on whether they can be there.
Anthony, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee Anthony.
In the nearly three years since the story made headlines, it has captured national attention with its interesting characters and bizarre plot twists.
Caylee was 2 years old when she was reported missing in July 2008 by her grandmother. Her remains were found in a wooded area in east Orange County in December 2008 by meter reader Roy Kronk.
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