Jury gets case of murdered witness
A jury will resume deliberations this morning on a host of charges against Ernest Charles Morgan Jr. Arrested on drug trafficking charges in 2005, Morgan faced 15 years in prison, even less if he cooperated with prosecutors. But Morgan, 37, decided that the man fingering him as a cocaine supplier would never testify at trial, according to a prosecutor. Maurice Walton of Seffner was gunned down on April 1, 2007, nine days after he gave a deposition in Morgan's drug case. Morgan is accused of ordering the hit. Now the charges include first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
Man wearing fake beard robs bank
A man robbed a Bank of America about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday. Police described him as a thin black man in his mid 30s, about 6 feet tall, who was wearing a fake beard and mustache, a red hooded sweatshirt over a black baseball cap, black sweatpants with blue shiny material on the back pocket, black glasses and gloves. After receiving an undisclosed amount of money, he escaped on foot. Police believe he is the same person who robbed a Wachovia Bank on March 31.
Fugitive pastor is found asleep
Hillsborough County deputies have arrested a Palm Beach County pastor who was suspected of fleeing charges of having sexual activity with a minor. The Rev. James R. Harris, 61, of Belle Glade is accused of promising young athletes he would find them recruiting scholarships in exchange for sex acts, a sheriff's news release stated. A tipster told U.S. marshals that Harris might be in the Brandon area, and deputies found him sleeping in a parked car near Williams Road and Broadway Avenue at 9:20 a.m., officials said. He's charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, lewd or lascivious battery, child abuse, showing obscene material to a minor and promoting sexual performance by a child. Harris is being held while awaiting extradition to Palm Beach County.
NEW PORT RICHEY
Two are accused of BB gun attack
Two New Port Richey 18-year-olds, Patrick N. Pinder and Jose Castillo-Gomez, were arrested on charges of aggravated battery after a man was shot 50 times in the face and body with BBs. Police say five teens in a pickup were cruising downtown a little after midnight Wednesday when they spied the man sleeping. They shined a flashlight in his face and two of them opened fire with air guns. As evidence, police seized an M16 assault rifle replica, which is "about as realistic as you can get," a sergeant said. They say the other BB guns were handguns.
Probation revoked after cocaine test
Laura Serneels Kolka lost her last chance when she tested positive for cocaine, violating her probation. Now, instead of being on probation for 10 years for the theft of thousands of dollars from her boss, Darby auctioneer William "Dave" Newman, she will spend 10 years in prison. She had gotten a light sentence because of her testimony about the beating and robbery of Newman at his home in 2002.