A pre-dawn brawl erupts after two men cut in line to watch the trial

By Steve Helling
June 17, 2011 04:45 PM

Every night before the Casey Anthony trial, dozens of court-watchers line up, hoping to snag one of the 50 free tickets for a public seat in the courtroom.

On most of those evenings, the people in line create a friendly bond, and an atmosphere not unlike a tailgate party.

But things took a nasty turn at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, when two men tried to cut in front of the ticket line. After others in the queue protested, the men started throwing punches.

“It was crazy,” says Marnette Engel, 47, who drove two hours from Jacksonville to watch the proceedings. “These guys just got right in front of everyone. One lady got in a fight with one of the guys, and then her friend got involved. They were beating the crap out of each other.”

Several police officers arrived and ejected the troublemakers. Four people received trespass warnings.

The brawl has prompted court officials to change the procedure for obtaining tickets. Now, interested onlookers must get their tickets the day beforehand. There will be no more overnight camp-outs.

And, hopefully, no more fights.