The Associated Press

FREEPORT  — In this rural part of the Panhandle, Christopher Mitchell finds few takers when he delivers his message about the importance of exploring insurance options under the federal health overhaul. 

Florida Dept. of Corrections

The South Miami-Dade farmhand who raped, murdered and dismembered 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce nearly two decades ago will be executed on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m., the governor's office said.

Juan Carlos Chavez was convicted of the 1995 murder that shocked Florida and led to the passage of a law that allows the state to indefinitely detain sexual predators.

Chavez, 46, will be executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Starke, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday.

Associated Press

The family of a 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery is encountering difficulty in obtaining two surgeries that she needs to undergo before she can be safely transferred to a long-term care facility. Now, they're receiving help from a foundation started by Terri Schiavo's family.

A lawyer for Children's Hospital Oakland said that it is unwilling to allow an outside doctor to fit Jahi McMath with the breathing and feeding tubes that the family has requested.

Fantasy of Flight

An airboat replica landed safely Wednesday in Tampa Bay, marking the 100th anniversary of the world's first commercial flight.

Eddie Hoffman Jr. flew the aircraft from the waters off the St. Petersburg Museum of History to the waters near Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa. The flight marked the centennial of the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line.

Hoffman's father built the replica, a Hoffman X-4 Mullet Skiff airboat.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Dave Martin, a longtime Associated Press photographer who began his career at the Lakeland Ledger more than three decades ago, died after collapsing on the Georgia Dome field after the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday night.

Martin, 59, ran onto the field immediately following Texas A&M’s 52-48 win over Duke and took photos of Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin being doused with a water bucket by his players. Martin continued to take celebration shots before collapsing.

Martin suffered an apparent heart attack and was administered CPR on the field. He was placed on a stretcher and taken to Emory Hospital Midtown where he died early Wednesday morning.

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing, ruling it was unconstitutional and shouldn't be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven's 30-page order made permanent an earlier, temporary ban on the law by the judge.

Gov. Rick Scott had backed the drug testing of prospective welfare recipients, arguing it helped protect taxpayers and families. He said in a statement Tuesday that his administration would appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A father and son who went diving on Christmas Day with new dive equipment were found dead in an underwater cave at a Hernando County wildlife refuge.

Holly King called the Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Christmas after her fiance, Darrin Spivey, and his 15-year-old son, Dillon Sanchez, didn’t return home after a planned dive.

Bay News 9 Photo

(See the video of the crash and rescue below)

Police say a small plane crashed at the Tampa airport, seriously injuring the pilot. Tampa police Lt. Richard O'Connor says the single-engine plane was coming in for a landing when it crashed just inside the airport's fence around 11:48 p.m. Thursday.

Scott McIntyre / AP Photo/Naples Daily News

A month after pleading guilty to cocaine-possession charges, Republican Rep. Trey Radel of Florida refused to resign Thursday, saying he wants to "rebuild the trust" of voters.

At a news conference held the same day he left a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, the 37-year-old freshman told reporters at his Cape Coral office that he will cooperate with congressional investigators who are looking into his conduct.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight people, including a Tampa man, saying they were serving unduly harsh drug sentences. It was the most expansive use yet of the president's power to free inmates.

All eight were sentenced under old federal guidelines that treated convictions for crack cocaine offenses harsher than those involving the powder form of the drug. Obama also pardoned 13 others for various crimes.

islandconnectionnews.com

Dolphins living in one of the areas worst hit by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were in bad shape a year later, with lung problems consistent with exposure to oil, according to a study assessing damage from the spill.

Jackson Memorial Hospital

A first-ever attempt at transplanting five organs in a child has succeeded far beyond the hopes of the family and doctors of 3-year-old Adonis Ortiz, who was born with his intestines outside his body. The Tampa baby and his parents went on camera at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami this week to talk about the historic transplant, carried out in October. Doctors now expect that Adonis can go home early next year, 10 News reports. 

Efforts to ease a massive spike in the cost of some flood insurance policies have been stymied on Capitol Hill. Congress won’t address the issue until the New Year, if at all.

Some insurance policies are sky rocketing because of a law Congress passed. Some homeowners are reporting going from, say, a $1,000 a year policy to a $16,000 dollar policy. South Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings says that makes those properties untouchable.

John O'Connor / WUSF

The attorney for the woman who has accused Florida State University quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jameis Winston of sexual assault is asking Florida's Attorney General to investigate the case. Patricia Carroll says Tallahassee police have yet to fully investigate the charges.

Holding up 248 pages of investigator documents, Carroll says most of the documents refer to her client's phone, text messages and social media account. Just eleven pages focus on the man she accused of sexual assault.

Without the public ceremony of past years, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday quietly signed into law a $77 billion, election-year budget, slashing just $68.9 million in pet projects from across the state.

The spending plan, the largest in state history, provides plenty of hometown projects for lawmakers to tout as they seek re-election, while increasing money for public schools, state colleges and universities, environmental projects and child welfare.

www.wkow.com

More Floridians are signing up for the new federal health insurance program than residents in any other state relying on the federal exchange, with nearly 18,000 registering over the last two months, according to figures released Wednesday.

Nearly 14,500 Floridians signed up under the Affordable Care Act in November. That compares to about 11,000 in Texas - another populous state that's using the federal government's website, according to enrollment statistics from the Health and Human Services Department

The federal government is getting involved in the fight against citrus greening disease, in hopes of saving Florida’s – and possibly the entire nation’s – citrus crop.

Joe Burbank / AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel

Prosecutors say they will not file domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman after his girlfriend said in a sworn statement she did not want to pursue the case.

State Attorney Phil Archer in Seminole County said in a statement Wednesday that Samantha Scheibe's decision not to cooperate and the lack of other corroborating evidence made a successful prosecution unlikely.

Florida A&M University is no longer on probation.

The school  has been taken off the probation imposed a year ago in the wake of a marching band member's hazing death, ending the threat of a serious blow to the school's academic reputation.

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