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Charlottesville Adjusts to Spotlight of Huguely Trial

Media descends on the small Virginia town as George Huguely trial enters its final days.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—A.C. Anderson, a Charlottesville, VA deputy sheriff, spent Thursday morning cheerfully ushering media members into a viewing room at the Levy Opera House, where a live feed of the George Huguely murder trial was being broadcast on a flat panel TV hanging on a wall.

Huguely, a 24-year-old former lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, stands accused of the May 2010 death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, a Cockeysville native.

"It's been quite busy around here," Anderson said. "This is one of the biggest things to happen in Charlottesville."

Since the trial began last Monday, he has grown to enjoy the increased activity in the small town of about 45,000 people. The Daily Progress, a local newspaper, reports that more than 200 journalists, including those from The New York Times and The Times of London, are credentialed to cover the proceedings.

The trial, which has entered the defense phase, begins again at 9 a.m. Friday. 

"These media people are really nice," Anderson said. "It's been good."

The reporters in town have also kept Phil Hobbes quite busy. The 23-year-old barista at Mudhouse coffee shop, located a few blocks from the courthouse, said he has been serving a steady flow of reporters all day seeking caffeine.

"Journalists really like their coffee," Hobbes said with a laugh.

Hobbes didn't live in Charlottesville when Love, a graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School, was killed in her apartment. But he said the death impacted the the town deeply.

"Everybody was shocked when it happened," he said.

Sigrid Eilertson, 40, wished the 'shock' translated into more community action.

"What I'm bummed about it is that the community didn't do more to commemorate what happened," said Eilerton, owner of FIREFISH Gallery.

Instead, aside from the increased media presence, it's pretty much business as usual in Charlottesville, according to Eilerton. 

"There is more vehicle traffic," she said. "It's been tricky parking, and [meter attendants have been] ticketing up and down the streets.

Eilerton is also upset that attention seems to be focused on "demonizing" Huguely instead of spreading awareness about domestic violence.

"[Charlottesville's] a teeny town," she said. "It's a very gossipy town."

Jaclynn Dunkle, the owner of Fellini's restaurant, echoed Eilerton's sentiments.

"People are focusing too much on the hype," said Dunkle, 60. "But domestic violence is very serious."

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