Local soldier killed in action
A Floridian was among four soldiers killed when their vehicle was struck by a bomb in Kandahar province in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Defense Department said. Besides Spc. Daniel C. Lawson, 33, of Deerfield Beach, the other soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Glen H. Stivison Jr., 34, of Blairsville, Pa.; Spc. Jesus O. Flores, 28, of La Mirada, Calif.; and 19-year-old Pfc. Brandon M. Styer, 19, of Lancaster, Pa. All were assigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion.
Murder case declared mistrial
A Broward judge granted a mistrial in a murder case that had been recessed for almost a year because prosecutors eavesdropped on jailhouse phone conversations between the defendant and his lawyer. Luis O. Martinez, 44, stands accused of fatally shooting businessman Charles Moretto, 58, in the head in 2003. The trial began in 2008 and was halted when it was learned prosecutors had listened to taped jailhouse phone calls between Martinez and defense lawyer Chris Grillo. Circuit Judge Susan Lebow disqualified the Broward State Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case, and later the 4th District Court of Appeal upheld her ruling.
Judge to pay fine for false mailer
A Brevard County judge has agreed to a public reprimand and a $25,000 fine for falsely implying her 2008 election opponent and his campaign contributors were corrupt. The agreement between County Judge Michelle Baker of Titusville and the state Judicial Qualifications Commission was filed Monday with the Florida Supreme Court. It says Baker expressed remorse for sending out a mailer that said most of incumbent Judge Oscar A. Hotusing's contributors were defense lawyers and posing the question: "What are they trying to buy?"
Violent drug gang appears broken up
South Florida authorities have dismantled a gang that allegedly operated a vast, violent drug ring responsible for at least 18 deaths. Leaders of Top 6 eluded serious criminal conviction for a decade. Investigators say it began with six people who met in a Lake Worth High School class for nonnative English speakers. They allegedly started with car burglaries and stickups of migrant workers before moving up to drugs. They were arrested within weeks of a June grand jury indictment on 91 crimes. Three are cooperating with investigators and will testify against the others.