15 Seconds of Fame
These faces in the crowd outside the courthouse got swept up in the commotion to see Casey Anthony on trial.
Kathi Jennings “Sharpie Lady”
While Judge Belvin Perry Jr. kept order in his courtroom, Jennings of Apopka brought order to the chaos known as the waiting line to get into it. “People just need to know there’s a plan,” says Jennings, who describes herself as being very organized. Her plan was simple and effective: Using a Sharpie, she wrote a number on the backs of hands as people showed up to wait overnight for a spectator seat. So the 10th person to arrive would not lose her place when security allowed would-be spectators to move (run, actually) from a campout site across the street to the waiting area in front of the courthouse. But after an early morning scuffle broke out in line, courthouse officials changed the rules for claiming the 50 public seats, ending the overnight waiting and “Sharpie Lady’s” reign as
Robin Wilkie, “Sharpie Lady Impostor”
“I’m the Sharpie Lady,” Wilkie would tell folks in line and the media when Kathi Jennings wasn’t around. She got on TV’s Dr. Drew as the “Sharpie Lady,” describing for viewers a fight that broke out in the line. Her identity claim led to some confusion when Wilkie was twice kicked out of the courtroom for falling asleep, causing Jennings to post on her “Sharpie Lady” Facebook page: “It appears there’s an impostor!” Wilkie would tell anyone who would listen that she could identify with the Anthony family because she was a victim of violent crime. Visiting from Minneapolis, Wilkie stayed at a downtown hotel for weeks while the trial went on.
Donna Marini, “Wheelchair Woman”
Marini got her YouTube moment when, during the wee hours of June 1, she tried to keep up with a stampede of would-be spectators dashing to get in line for courthouse seats. As runners came up on her motorized wheelchair, Marini, of Altamonte Springs, veered to the left and cut off a man. The maneuver was captured on video that made local and national news. “I did not intentionally run the guy into the wall,” she says. Although she was virtually assured a reserved space for those in wheelchairs attending the trial, Marini waited in line like everyone else who wanted a spectator seat. She had followed the case since it began, even attending the memorial service for Caylee, in 2009. “I believe she took that little girl’s life,” she says of Casey Anthony.
Brian Maher, “Neck Brace Guy”
Unable to work as a mover due to a neck injury, Maher had planned to attend the trial only to pass time. But instead he got caught up in the daily drama going on inside and outside the courthouse, becoming a regular as well as a minor celebrity. Two Facebook fan pages were created in honor of “Neck Brace Guy” after video showed Maher hauling butt, his white neck brace standing out amid the pandemonium. “There wouldn’t be so much chaos in the line if it weren’t for five bad apples in the crowd,” he says.