ERATH COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds of potential jurors have been called for the Chris Kyle “American Sniper” murder trial, but they seem to be the only ones willing to go near the City of Stephenville courthouse these days.
For residents in the city, the upcoming trial is having an unexpected effect.
For the most part downtown Stephenville is business as usual. But it’s quitter, because with all the media coverage and talk, most locals picture the square surrounded by barricades.
You can’t walk into Peacock’s Diner without seeing news about the murder trial that’s taking place downtown. Servers like Rita Latham hear conversations loaded with ‘American Sniper’ talk.
“There’s a lot of stuff being said and a lot of stuff is going on about this trial.”
As people chew on stories about the coming media frenzy, jury selection and facts of the trial, one story line has taken on a life of its own.
Latham said, “I’m just staying away from the Square. Because, it’s really crowded on the Square and I think they have it all blocked off anyway where you can’t go near. I guess they got a lot of security too.”
People who work downtown, like Kaylee Pemberton, are frustrated by rumors of chaos around the courthouse chasing away their business. “I think everybody is scared to come down here, because if it’s going to be crazy with roads blocked, police officers and security things,” she said.
There is a deputy who occasionally makes a walk around the square with his K-9 partner. But the barricades are only on the side streets. The local traffic has actually disappeared, deterred by talk of the disorder downtown.
Pemberton says that’s not the case. “It’s still small-town Stephenville. We’re still able to drive up and down our street. There’s a parking space open in front of my store right now.”
Some business owners say they’re starting to see some new faces replacing the locals that they are missing – all of those people are coming from the courthouse. But many are hoping their business really picks up on Wednesday, when the ‘American Sniper’ trial actually begins.
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