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Teen pleads guilty to second-degree murder, will testify in deaths of Pensacola couple

West Palm Beach

Court upholds $11M trees award

A Florida appeals court has upheld an award of $11 million in damages to Broward County homeowners whose healthy fruit trees were destroyed in the state's battle against citrus canker.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach issued the ruling Wednesday upholding a jury's 2008 award of damages. The case involves about 58,000 Broward County residents whose trees were chopped down and burned by the state in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the spread of canker.

State officials did reimburse residents a small amount, but not the full tree-replacement cost.

Similar cases are pending in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Lee and Orange counties.


Teen pleads guilty in murder of couple

A teenager charged in the home-invasion deaths of a Pensacola couple known for adopting children with special needs has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and robbery with a firearm.

Rakeem Florence, 17, who faces life in prison, has agreed to testify against the other suspects.

Florence and six others were charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings. A woman has been charged as an accessory.

The suspects are accused of killing the couple in their home last summer while some of their nine young children with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs watched.


Bombmaking gear found on boy, 16

A Melbourne teen found on his high school campus with ingredients to make a bomb and how-to instructions is being held at a juvenile detention center on several charges.

The 16-year-old was arrested at his school Tuesday and charged with possession of bombmaking materials at a school and attempting to make a destructive device. He was taken to Brevard's juvenile detention center.

Police say the Eau Gallie High School student was carrying a backpack that had bombmaking ingredients, a knife, notebooks with details on how to make different types of bombs, a trench coat and combat boots.

West Palm Beach

Prison guards plead guilty in cocaine case

Eleven state corrections guards and five others pleaded guilty to cocaine possession charges in federal court.

They were arrested in February and have entered into separate plea agreements that were reached in April and May.

The case followed an FBI investigation in which agents recruited guards from Glades Correctional Institution, South Bay Correctional Institution and Florida Road Prison, and other Glades residents who posed as prison guards to run fake cocaine out of Miami-Dade County for $5,000 payments.

Associated Press

Teen pleads guilty to second-degree murder, will testify in deaths of Pensacola couple 05/12/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:27pm]
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