Acting on common sense, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican, has announced hearings will take place on the state’s stand-your-ground law. The announcement came amid protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman who shot and killed unarmed Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanfoird on Feb. 26, 2012.
Gov. Rick Scott has expressed support for the existing law. Zimmerman’s acquittal can be attributed to any number of things but this law is vague, particularly in a case in which an armed adult, who was the aggressor and killed an unarmed child, is allowed to claim he acted in self-defense.
State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, is being criticized for his stand on medical marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), an organization that advocates legalizing the substance, has ranked him one of its 2013 “worst legislators” on the issue. Rouson successfully sponsored a bill which bans the sale of pipes that can be used to smoke marijuana. In doing so, he referred to bongs as “utensils of death,” even though marijuana use is not listed as a cause of death by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Palm Beach County
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., is praising the Centers for Disease Control and congratulating the Palm Beach County School District on winning a five-year $2.07 million grant. This is the fourth time the district has won this grant which is used to fund programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of students, including anti-bullying, sexual harassment and AIDS awareness campaigns. The School District of Palm Beach County has been awarded $275,000 for the 2013 school year and will receive $450,000 annually through 2018.
De’Onte Jean-Baptiste, 22, was found dead from gunshot wounds at the corner of North Congress Avenue and West 23rd Street in Riviera Beach. Police have not released details and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this case is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.
Verizon Wireless has activated 116 new 4G LTE cell phone sites in Florida over the last month and 11 of them are in Broward. This brings the total number to 700 4G towers Verizon has installed in the state this year. The 4G LTE technology is the top-of-the-line in mobile communication, providing for faster, more reliable transmission of phone calls and data. Wireless carriers in Florida such as Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T are competing for market share. This has led to special pricing and other deals that can only benefit consumers.
Corey Pratter, 26, of Deerfield Beach was gunned down after leaving a Fort Lauderdale nightclub near West Broward Boulevard and Florida Avenue in the Melrose Park neighborhood. Pratter was approached by an unidentified man who fired several shots at him and ran off. Friends tried rushing Pratter to a hospital but police saw their car speeding and pulled them over. Pratter was pronounced dead at the scene of the traffic stop. Police are investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Jack DiCristofalo at 954- 828-6096.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to review the case of Israel Hernandez, an aspiring artist who died while in police custody. Hernandez had fled from police after allegedly being sighted spraying graffiti on the wall of an abandoned building. Police say he was tasered in the chest by Officer Jorge Mercado as he ran off. Within one hour the Miami high school student was dead. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office are conducting their own investigation into the teen’s death. Miami police have apologized to Hernandez’s family but insist they acted appropriately.
Walmart is hiring more than 300 workers for its new supercenter store which is scheduled to open soon in Goulds. A hiring center is open at 22137 S. Dixie Highway, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 305-257-0025. Applications may also be completed online at careers.walmart.com
Marcus Marcell Brown, 23, of Overtown and several others have been indicted on 21 counts of drug trafficking and other charges. Authorities conducted a yearlong investigation, involving several law enforcement agencies, into Brown’s alleged “criminal enterprise” which, they said, operated in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. Indicted with Brown were Mark Brown, 29, Anthony Donnell Mcclain, 29, Omar Abdul Lewis, 39, Oliver Salguero, 24, Gregory Timothy Robinson, 27, Eldridge Raynard White Jr., 23, Edward Keith Mcclain, 23, Javon Jones, 29 and John Jones Jr., 22, all of Overtown as well. Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said the group was violent and police are glad to have them off the streets.
Mathew Corp, 35, of Tavernier called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to report that his girlfriend had been kidnapped by two men and that they were headed north in a U-Haul truck. Alerts for the truck were sent out to law enforcement agencies. Deputies went to take a statement from Corp and, when they arrived at his apartment, saw a U-Haul truck outside and two women come out of his apartment. Corp left the apartment yelling at them. Deputies said he was intoxicated and admitted calling in the false kidnapping report. His girlfriend was breaking up with him and moving out and he apparently wanted her to be pulled over by police. Corp had to forcibly be taken into custody and is now facing charges for misusing 911 and resisting arrest.
LIFE IN PRISON
Even though a jury recommended by a 11-1 vote that he be sentenced to death, Jonathan LeBaron, 36, was spared the death penalty and instead sentenced to life in prison without parole in a stabbing death. On Feb. 10, 2009, LeBaron beat and stabbed Richard Gardner to death on Gardner’s boat which was docked at the Oceanside Marina on Stock Island. In May this year, he was convicted of premeditated murder. Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones used words like “cowardly” and “despicable” to describe the crime but said he had seen worse.
•Picture above Elgin Jones