Law & Order

Courtesy of Bay News 9

Two people are dead after a bad accident early today that snarled traffic and left drivers fuming for miles and hours.

The wreck happened at Interstate 4 and Alexander Street in Plant City at 6:10 this morning.

The Florida Highway Patrol says it all started when an aggressive driver cut off Michael Anthony Bennett and his wife Letara Tenell Bennett of Lakeland.  Bennett overcorrected and that sent his GMC Envoy ping-ponging off another car.  The Bennetts' car flipped and they were both ejected from the SUV. They both died.

The driver of the third car was not hurt.  Authorities are looking for the aggressive driver who caused the accident.  The car was a dark-colored compact. 

If you witnessed the crash, the FHP wants to hear from you at 813-631-4020.

No Gun Ban in Downtown Tampa During RNC

May 2, 2012

Florida's governor has said no to a request from Tampa's mayor to allow the city to ban concealed carry weapons in downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention in late August.

In a  letter sent to Governor Rick Scott yesterday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn requested that Governor Rick Scott issue an executive order prohibiting the transportation of firearms in downtown Tampa during the August 27-30 RNC.

A 2011 Florida law bars cities and counties from passing local laws regulating firearms or ammunition,

Crime Drops in Hillsborough County

Apr 30, 2012

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released some data Monday that says Hillsborough County's crime index fell 12.7 percent last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The FDLE includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle thefts in its annual statistics.

Even though Tampa Bay area officials have been seeing an increase in tax fraud, the FDLE doesn't include that in it's data.

First, an Orlando judge ruled drug testing welfare recipients unconstitutional. Now, federal judge Ursula Ungaro from Miami has ruled Governor Scott's drug testing of state employees is also unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and another state union challenged Governor Scott's Executive Order from last year to drug test state employees. ACLU-FL said it violated fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and Thursday Ungaro agreed.

Courtesy WFTV

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement today released its report on the deadly January accidents on I-75 in Alachua County. 

The FDLE found no criminal intent in decisions made by the Florida Highway Patrol or other government agencies.  At the time of the accidents, there was dense fog on the road and smoke from controlled burns at nearby Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  And the wrecks happened in north and southbound lanes on a low-lying stretch of I-75.  Eleven people died and nearly two dozen were hurt.

Credit: The Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza

James Sibert, one of the two FBI agents present at the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy, has died.

The Fort Myers resident was 93.  

Sibert spent the better part of five decades facing questions about what he saw that day, including his take on a conspiracy.  

He rarely spoke about the events that day, but he told the Boston Globe in 2009, "I don't buy the single-bullet theory."  He added, "I won't go as far as to say there was no conspiracy."

The other FBI agent who witnessed the autopsy, Francis X. O'Neill, died in 2009.

Today a judge will decide whether to set George Zimmerman free until his trial for killing Trayvon Martin.

Legal experts tell AP when it comes to the question of whether to allow bail, there is a lot weighing in Zimmerman's favor. He was never convicted of a crime before, he has ties to the local community and he's not considered a flight risk, since he turned himself in last week after he was charged with second-degree murder. 

"Although it's not routine for people charged with murder to get bond, they do get bond, and I think there is an excellent argument to be made in his specific case for him to be released on bond," said defense attorney Randy McClean, who practices in Seminole County, about 15 miles northeast of Orlando.

But  the two main issues at hand are: would he be allowed to leave the U.S. and how would he stay safe.

Public scrutiny of the Zimmerman-Martin case is intense. And The New Black Panther Party put a $10,000 bounty out to capture Zimmerman. 

National Bar Association Discusses Trayvon Martin Case

Apr 19, 2012

The National Bar Association which is a large network of predominately African American attorneys and judges discussed the legal and social effects of the Trayvon Martin case.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin after an altercation and claimed self-defense through the "Stand Your Ground" Law.

The panel discussed the Trayvon Martin Foundation working to help analyze the "Stand Your Ground" Law.

The family's attorney Benjamin Crump says that law needs to be changed.

Trayvon Martin Judge Recusing Herself from Case

Apr 18, 2012

The judge presiding over the Trayvon Martin shooting case has removed herself from the case. She first raised the issye, and later George Zimmerman's attorney said she had a possible conflict of interest.

Florida Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler recused herself Wednesday because of a potential conflict that relates to her husband.

He works with Orlando attorney Mark NeJame, who was first approached by Zimmerman's family to represent the neighborhood watch volunteer.

Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler is expected to decide by this Friday whether to continue to preside over the George Zimmerman murder trial. 

Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara asked the judge to take herself off the trial for possible conflict of interest after it came out that her husband works with Mark NeJame. He's an Orlando-area attorney providing legal analysis for CNN.  And he was approached by Zimmerman with a request to handle his defense against murder charges.

St. Petersburg Police have arrested Matthew Cook of St. Petersburg, the man suspected of killing a cyclist last week.

He's facing several criminal charges, including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and child abuse.  Police say Cook was speeding through South St. Petersburg on Saturday with his 3-year-old daughter strapped into her car seat. 

Police think he was racing another car when he tried to pass on the right.  That's when his car plowed into Kris Ann Jones, who was cruising along in the bike lane.  Jones and her bike landed on Cook's windshield and she died at the scene.

St. Petersburg Police say the force of the collision was so powerful it sent a Dodge Durango parked along 1st Avenue South into a tree, and hurled Jones to the pavement.

When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, he invoked a "Stand Your Ground" defense. And now, supporters of the law are finding themselves on the defensive.

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin has led to a national debate about "Stand Your Ground."

The law says you no longer have a duty to retreat if you feel threatened. Instead, you're allowed to defend yourself using force -- even deadly force.

Art Nadel a man notorious in Sarasota for his crimes, has died in a North Carolina prison. 

He was the main man in the largest investment swindle the history of Southwest Florida, cheating investors out of more than $160 million dollars.  And prosecutors said he had stolen away many investors' life savings. 

Nadel was called a "mini-Madoff" according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but in the Sunshine State, the Feds say identity-theft tax fraud is an epidemic that's spreading to other states. 

And it's only going to get worse. 

It seems Florida inmates are sharing "how-tos" in prison.  

George Zimmerman's attorney is asking that the judge in the case be removed over a possible conflict of interest. Yahoo News reports:

Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, requested that Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler be removed after she revealed that her husband works with Mark NeJame, a CNN legal analyst. Last week, after O'Mara agreed to take Zimmerman as a client, NeJame revealed that he had been approached by Zimmerman—the 28-year-old neighborhood watchman accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin—about representing him.

 

Zimmerman was turned away by NeJame, but not before NeJame recommended other defense attorneys, including O'Mara.

Zimmerman stands accused of 2nd degree murder for killing teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford in late February.  It happened after neighborhood watch captain Zimmerman flouted the advice of a 911 operator and followed Martin and the two had some sort of confrontation.

The National Bar Association will present a town hall meeting titled, “Standing Our Ground for Justice” at noon Thursday, April 19. The public forum will be held at the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church,  1006 Cypress St.  in Tampa.

The meeting will provide an update on the Trayvon Martin case, as well as the legal and social effects that have been compounded by the case and led to a nationwide movement for justice.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Routine patrol early Sunday morning turned out to be anything but for Hillsborough Deputy Juan Lazu.

Around 1:00 a.m. he was hit nearly head-on by a driver in a Ford Excursion going the wrong way with his lights off on Bearss Avenue westbound near the Jimmy B. Keel Public Library. 

The impact sent the squad car spinning and Deputy Lazu was able to radio for help.  Other deputies pulled him from the squad car before it and the Ford exploded and burst into flames.  Deputy Lazu had minor injuries and is expected to recover fully and get back to work. 

Second Degree Murder Charge for Zimmerman

Apr 11, 2012

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who admits to shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has been charged with second degree murder.

That announcement came at an afternoon news conference in Jacksonville by State prosecutor Angela Corey.

Corey said her investigative team did not come to the decision lightly.

"We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute on the facts of any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida.

The Washington Post is reporting that George Zimmerman will be charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The newspaper cites an unidentified law enforcement source close to the investigation.

The special prosecutor, Angela Corey, said Tuesday night she would make an announcement about charges within 72 hours.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the Selmon Crosstown Expressway may need to be closed down during certain parts of the National Republican Convention in August, but nothing is for sure.

There's a subcommittee focusing entirely on transportation issues for the National Republican Convention. They're currently working on ways to balance security and convenience. But final transportation plans aren't expected to be announced until 4 - 6 weeks before the convention.

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