4,000 acres to be set aside for panther habitat
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the conservation of a 4,000-acre chunk of private land for Florida panther habitat. The service's Ken Warren said Thursday that the land is in Hendry County east of Fort Myers and will be set aside in perpetuity for wildlife habitat. He said the land will never be developed. It is currently a working cattle farm owned by the family of George Milicevic. Scientists estimate there are only about 100 Florida panthers remaining in the wild.
Retired firefighter wins hearing suit
A recently retired Broward County firefighter has won a lawsuit that claimed his hearing was damaged by 27 years of exposure to loud sirens. Fort Lauderdale city commissioners voted Wednesday to pay $50,000 to Bruce Wade to settle his workers' compensation claim for the hearing damage and an undisclosed condition related to his work. He brought up the hearing damage claim last spring just before he retired. The lawsuit sought $136,500. Besides the $50,000 settlement, the city had paid $43,000 on the claims already.
Jail inmate hangs himself in his cell
An inmate at the St. Lucie County jail hanged himself in a cell at the facility's medical unit. Joshua Dustin Cornelius, 31, of Daytona Beach killed himself in the shower area of his cell on Wednesday, authorities said. Deputies had arrested Cornelius on Tuesday for possession of a controlled substance, trafficking of a controlled substance and violation of probation for possession of a controlled substance.
DNA link leads to arrest in '84 killing
DNA evidence links a Fort Myers man to a sexual assault and killing more than 25 years ago, officials say. Authorities arrested 47-year-old Todd Clayton Campbell at his home Tuesday on first-degree murder charges for the 1984 death of 27-year-old Vickie Long. Authorities say improvements in DNA technology helped investigators match Campbell's DNA with DNA found on Long's clothing. His DNA was collected in May when he was arrested on felony marijuana drug charges in Lee County.
High court rejects murderer's appeal
The Florida Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a killer under an active death warrant after new DNA testing. In a 7-0 opinion Thursday, the justices noted that tests of material from under the victim's fingernails showed that the DNA profile was consistent with that of David Eugene Johnston. Johnston, now 49, was convicted of stabbing and strangling Mary Hammond, 84, at her Orlando home in 1983. Gov. Charlie Crist signed a second death warrant for him last year.
Officials: Trooper fixed ticket for sex
A Florida Highway Patrol trooper is accused of fixing a traffic ticket for sex. Court records show that Wilfredo Bennett, 39, told a female driver after a 2008 crash investigation that he would not show up for her court date if she contested the ticket and made dinner for him. The woman told investigators she met with Bennett several times because she liked him. She also said they had sex on several occasions, even while he was on duty. Bennett pleaded not guilty this week. The 13-year veteran has since been fired.