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Man extradited from Mississippi faces charges in slaying of Orange Park girl, 7

MIAMI

Smoker's win is cut from $300M to $39M

A $300 million jury verdict against Philip Morris USA in a Florida smoker's lawsuit has been cut down to about $39 million by a judge.

Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld found the damage award excessive and not supported by the evidence in the case of Cindy Naugle, who smoked for 25 years and suffers from emphysema.

Philip Morris attorneys say they will still appeal the lower damage award.

The $300 million had been the highest damage award so far among thousands of lawsuits filed by Florida smokers against tobacco companies.

The lawsuits are being tried individually around the state because the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a huge $145 billion class-action damage award for Florida smokers.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS

'Person of interest' returned to Florida

A man who is a person of interest in the slaying of a 7-year-old girl has been extradited from Mississippi to Florida.

Jarred Mitchell Harrell is jailed in Clay County on $1 million bond. He appeared in court over closed-circuit television Wednesday morning and was appointed a public defender.

Harrell was arrested Feb. 11 in Meridian, Miss., and faces charges of molesting a child and 41 counts of possession of child pornography.

Authorities say Harrell is wanted for questioning in the death of Somer Thompson. She disappeared in October while walking home from school in Orange Park, a Jacksonville suburb.

Her body was found in a south Georgia landfill two days later.

TALLAHASSEE

New report to help to curb gangs statewide

More than 1,000 gangs with nearly 49,000 members and associates are roaming through virtually every corner of the state, the Attorney General's Office contends.

Officials say the report, which was released Wednesday by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and the Coordinating Council on Gang Reduction Strategies, will help authorities gauge the problem and identify solutions.

Associated Press

Man extradited from Mississippi faces charges in slaying of Orange Park girl, 7 02/24/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 9:07am]

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