Anthony Neighbors Look to Orange County Commissioner for Help with Protesters

By Sarah Lundy and Walter Pacheco | Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted 6:31 PM EDT, September 30, 2008

From Right to Left: Mark NeJame, Cindy and Geroge Anthony
George and Cindy Anthony whisper to attorney Mark NeJame inside the Orange County Commision chambers. Commissioners discussed issues concerning protesters near the Anthony home. (Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel / September 30, 2008)

 

TODAY'S UPDATES:

Homeowners look to Orange County government for help

9:10 a.m. The attorney representing the Chickasaw Oaks Phase Three homeowners association said residents are meeting with Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez this morning to discuss a solution to keep the dozens of protesters from gathering daily outside the Anthonys' Hopespring Drive home.

Karen Wonsetler represents the 120-plus homeowners in the neighborhood who are tired of the noise and increased traffic caused by the protesters. She says residents do not have the means to control them.

"Obviously the [homeowners association] is disappointed," Wonsetler said. "We do not have the resources to hire an investigator to identify the protesters and then to summons and serve them. The protesters change every day."

Fernandez, who represents District 3 and not the district that includes Chickasaw Oaks Phase Three subdivision, became involved after she attended a meeting with sheriff's deputies and residents about the disruptions caused by the protesters.

In a memo to Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, she suggests that the Orange County Sheriff's Office assign a deputy to stand outside the Anthonys' house.

FROM THE SEPT. 30 PRINT EDITION OF THE ORLANDO SENTINEL

The neighborhood where Casey Anthony lives lost its latest bid Monday to keep protesters away, while county officials continued to search for remedies to public outrage over the woman's missing child.

Homeowners from Chickasaw Oaks Phase Three wanted a judge to restrict protesters to a vacant lot at the end of Hopespring Drive -- hundreds of feet north of the home Anthony shares with her parents, George and Cindy Anthony.

In a 20-page decision, Circuit Judge Cynthia MacKinnon wrote that the homeowners association had failed again to adequately notify the protesters so they could defend themselves in the court proceeding.

The neighborhood tried to notify some of the protesters by handing out a notice of a hearing and posting signs on a number of mailboxes. It's unclear how many notices were handed out or whether any protesters received the information, the judge wrote.

She did concede that the neighborhood has been inconvenienced since 3-year-old Caylee was reported missing in mid-July. Investigators have described her 22-year-old mother as a person of interest in her disappearance.

In recent weeks, protesters have gathered outside the home -- often screaming and at times throwing things at the house. On Sunday night, a handful of protesters held signs and yelled as the Anthonys and their supporters held a vigil.

Earlier this month, George and Cindy Anthony got into shoving matches with late-night hecklers. One night, Casey Anthony called 911 for help.

MacKinnon warned protesters that her decision does not give them the right to do whatever they want.

"There is no First Amendment right to trespass, litter or inflict violence on another, and law enforcement personnel need not feel hamstrung in dealing with such activities," she wrote.

The homeowners group can file another request for a judge's order if members choose.

Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart, whose district includes the Anthony neighborhood, had asked whether a temporary curfew could bring relief. However, she said Monday that the county and sheriff's attorneys were "uncomfortable" with the idea and are exploring other options with the county's public-safety director.

Sheriff Kevin Beary held an afternoon conference call with patrol commanders and county administrators to discuss the situation. Two deputy sheriffs will continue to patrol the neighborhood at night.

Patrol commanders are keeping track of the cost of the extra patrols, Capt. Angelo Nieves said. The cost will be discussed later with county leaders.

As authorities work to deal with the protesters, the fund established to help with the search for Caylee has reorganized and shifted to a new bank: Wachovia. Documents related to the Caylee Marie Anthony Trust Fund are posted at helpfindcaylee.com for those who want more information.

Source: Orlando Sentinel