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  1. Sentencing set for Edward Covington, who killed his girlfriend and her two children

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Edward Covington, who pleaded guilty last year to murdering his girlfriend and her two children on Mother's Day in 2008, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday morning. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    Edward Covington listens with Public Defender Julianne M. Holt during his trial in Tampa on Friday, October 24, 2014. [EVE EDELHEIT   | Times]
  2. Jehovah's Witnesses still going door-to-door in a closed-door world

    Working Life

    ST. PETERSBURG — Like any group of spirited salesmen, this crew swaps stories about the big scores, those times when people couldn't wait to buy what they were selling.

    Mary and Jonathan Burns, both Jehovah Witnesses, left and right,  share some Bible verses and literature with Pinellas Park resident Leslie Pevey, center. The Burns have stopped several times to share Bible verses and information with Pevey over the past 6 months. SCOTT KEELER   |   TIMES
  3. Sleep: Caretaker of memories, repairer of prejudice

    Health

    Learning new stuff takes sleep. Robbed of the restorative balm of slumber, the human brain will quickly lose its ability to make and hold on to new memories, and learning takes a dive, research demonstrates.

  4. Major construction at N. Korea rocket site, U.S. institute says

    World

    WASHINGTON — Satellite imagery shows significant new construction at North Korea's main rocket launch site in a sign of leader Kim Jong Un's determination to pursue a space program despite international censure, a U.S. research institute said Thursday.

  5. Indictment says ex-House Speaker Hastert paid hush money

    Politics

    CHICAGO — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime high school teacher silent about "prior misconduct" by the Illinois Republican who was once second in line to the U.S. presidency, according to a federal grand jury …

    House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., sits for a portrait in his Capitol Hill office in 2007. On Thursday,  federal prosecutors  indicted Hastert, 73, on bank-related charges. [Associated Press]
  6. Stage set for Cuba's removal from U.S. terrorism list

    Nation

    For 33 years, Cuba has occupied a spot on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism — a place reserved for nations that repeatedly provide support for international acts of premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatants.

  7. National Spelling Bee ends in tie for second year in a row

    Nation

    OXON HILL, Md. — They couldn't be rattled. They couldn't be denied. Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar had worked too hard and come close too many times not to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

    Vanya Shivashankar, left, 13, of Olathe, Kan., and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of St. Louis, hold up the championship trophy as co-champions after winning the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee ON Thursday. [Associated Press]
  8. Hillsborough County Sheriff: Six-foot alligator attacks horse in Odessa pasture

    Crime

    Deputies were dispatched to Odessa Thursday evening to corral a six-foot alligator that attacked a horse, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

  9. For the Lightning, this is the time to win

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Before these NHL playoffs began, the Lightning held a team dinner, where several players spoke.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) as his team prepares to head out of the locker room and down the tunnel onto the ice for warm ups before taking on the Detroit Red Wings in game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (04/16/15).
  10. Another defeat for Rays at St. Pete City Council

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It took nearly five hours of often heated debate Thursday for the City Council to end up where it had started: deadlocked on reaching a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

  11. Romano: St. Pete City Council should stop feeling slighted, work on Rays deal

    Local Government

    To borrow a line from a movie, this isn't personal.

  12. Joshua Malina of 'Scandal,' 'West Wing' talks about being a mensch in Hollywood

    The Feed

    TAMPA — Even after more than 40 speaking engagements at Jewish Federations around the country, Joshua Malina doesn't consider himself an authority on the faith.

    Joshua Malina, who plays David Rosen in ABC’s Scandal, spoke at the Tampa Jewish Community Center and Federations Thursday.
  13. Marco Rubio drops in on 'Pawn Stars' during Nevada campaign stop

    State Roundup

    LAS VEGAS -—Sen. Marco Rubio kicked off his first presidential campaign visit to the key early nominating state of Nevada on Thursday with a promise: You're going to be seeing a lot of me.

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio tours the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn shop with owner Rick Harrison on Thursday in Las Vegas. Harrison is on the television show "Pawn Stars.'' [Associated Press]
  14. Son of 'Barney' creator faces 15 years in prison for shooting neighbor

    Bizarre News

    LOS ANGELES — The son of the creator of Barney & Friends pleaded no contest Thursday to shooting his neighbor in the chest after accusing him of trespassing.

    This is Barney of "Barney and Friends.'' The son of Barney's creator pleaded no contest to shooting his neighbor in the chest. [Times files]
  15. Obama drops by Our Lady of Charity, becoming first U.S. president to visit Miami shrine to Cuban saint (w/video)

    National

    MIAMI — President Barack Obama extended a symbolic olive branch Thursday to Miami's Cuban Americans by paying his respects to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Coconut Grove.

    President Barack Obama looks at a mural with the Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity during an unannounced stop before heading to airport Thursday in Miami. Obama was being shown a replica of Our Lady of Charity, the original statue resides at the shrine of El Cobre outside the city of Santiago, Cuba. [Associated Press]