WEST PALM BEACH
PYTHON HUNT OPENS WITH QUICK SUCCESS
A program to eradicate pythons from Florida's Everglades began Friday with a slithering success: Trappers caught a nearly 10-footer within about an hour of setting out. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced this week the state would allow a few snake experts to begin killing the nonnative pythons to rid hundreds of thousands of acres in South Florida of them. Gov. Charlie Crist asked for the program two weeks after a Central Florida child was strangled in her bed by a pet python that escaped its enclosure.
Court rules trial video, audio public
The state Supreme Court has ordered that electronic recordings of trial proceedings are public records, citing open government laws. The court Thursday unanimously rejected a recommendation from a judicial commission that audio and video recordings be protected unless a judge approves their release. The ruling comes after an appeals court rejected a Tampa Tribune request for audio recordings in a criminal sentencing. At issue was whether conversations not a part of official court records could be heard on recordings. The Supreme Court recommended that participants in trials take caution to make sure confidential conversations could not be picked up by microphones.
State must pay for appointed lawyers
An appeals court says the state — not counties — must pay for court-appointed lawyers to represent poor criminal defendants. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a trial court ruling that a new law shifting costs to counties is unconstitutional. The law required counties to pay for five new regional legal offices designed to take cases that public defenders cannot handle — usually due to conflicts of interest. Those cases in the past had been assigned to private lawyers at public expense.
Convicted killer's execution date set
Gov. Charlie Crist has set Aug. 19 as the execution date of John Richard Marek. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection May 13 for the 1983 kidnapping, rape and murder of Adella Marie Simmons in Broward County. The Supreme Court postponed the execution May 11 to allow Marek time to argue his accomplice, Raymond Wigley, was the actual killer. The court lifted the stay Thursday, and the execution was rescheduled Friday.
Man is charged in daughter's death
Timothy King was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of his 5-month-old daughter, Kyra. He'll be held without bond in the Polk County jail. An affidavit stated King called 911 on July 9 and said the baby wasn't breathing. She died the next day after being taken off life support. The medical examiner said the cause of death was blunt impact with hemorrhages in her head, and the manner of death was homicide. Investigators say Kyra's 5-year-old brother reported seeing King slam her head into her crib.