Daystarter: Closing arguments in the Jonchuck trial today; human error caused 911 glitch; Romano: Lightning show no grit, no glory

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published April 15
Updated April 15

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• With a lingering rain chance from overnight and morning temperatures in the 60s, we should see drier conditions throughout today, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will be in the mid 70s to lower 80s.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.

• As President Donald Trump builds the Republican Party’s coalition before the 2020 election, his son-in-law Jared Kushner tossed out a surprising statistic about a group of people who he said leans right: felons in Florida. “In Florida they passed a law where former felons can now vote. We’ve had more ex-felons register as Republicans than Democrats,” Kushner told Laura Ingraham on Fox News April 1. So are former felons rushing to join Trump’s party in Florida?

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida’s best newspaper and its redesigned website tampabay.com.

• A hardware glitch in September caused 911 operators in Hillsborough County to miss hundreds of calls. But the real culprit were the humans who should have kept that from happening in the first place, according to county officials. That was not the only breakdown of the county’s 911 system last year, but the September blackout was the longest and most serious occurrence. The investigation into that incident, completed in December, revealed “a serious lack of supervision and direction during the recent failure.”

• Johns Hopkins Health System wants to discuss settlements with the families of children who died or were injured at the All Children’s Heart Institute. In at least 11 cases, the health system has agreed to do so before the families file suit, “admitting our liability in most cases,” its leaders recently disclosed to investors in bond documents. That some parents are too angry to accept the overture is only the latest setback for All Children’s.

• In 2015, John Jonchuck dropped his dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off a St. Petersburg bridge. She plunged 62 feet to her death in the cold waters below. His day in court is finally here, and the defense plans to argue that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. Follow the Tampa Bay Times for full coverage of the Jonchuck trial. Here’s the latest developments:

LIVE BLOG: Follow today’s courtroom developments.

WATCH: The Trial of John Jonchuck, Day 20: Closing arguments and deliberation.

• READ: Watching, waiting, wondering: Court observer, like jurors, trying to decide Jonchuck’s fate.

WATCH: Check out the live freed from the courtroom at tampabay.com.

THE FOCUS: The trial of John Jonchuck comes down to one question: Evil or insane?

FULL COVERAGE: Why is the Times covering the Jonchuck trial gavel-to-gavel? Senior Deputy Editor Amy Hollyfield explains why.

GOT QUESTIONS? Follow the Times coverage at tampabay.com/jonchuck and share your questions in the comments. We’ll answer as we go.

READ: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck by Pulitzer-prize winner Lane DeGregory

• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.

• The Tampa mayor’s race is headed down the stretch. Click here for full coverage of the race and follow Tampa city hall reporter Charlie Frago on Twitter for the latest developments.

• When the city of St. Petersburg began dredging Lake Maggiore in 1989, the muck it removed contained arsenic, the result of years of storm runoff. It was deposited on property in the Gateway area. About two years ago, Dorchester Holdings, the property’s current owner, put in a claim with the city, because it was the originator of the contaminated soil. No money will change hands, but it will cost the city $1 million to remove the soil, transport it a Manatee landfill and conduct further testing to make sure the site off Gandy Boulevard is suitable for residential development.

Weekend rewind: Tiger is back; Triple homicide suspects turns himself in; and more.

• Air Force Lt. Col. N’Keiba Estelle knows the full circle of military life. Her father was an Air Force senior master sergeant stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. She and her husband were married at the base chapel. And she was on the MacDill flightline for the dignified transfer ceremony when her husband’s body came home. Raymond Estelle II was one of nine Americans killed in April 2011 during an insider attack in Afghanistan. Now she works in a MacDill building named after her husband, commanding some 200 airmen in the 6th Communications Squadron. It’s the unit where they first served together. Estelle spoke with the Times about the challenges of being a wife and mother who lost her husband to war and of running the outfit he once did.

• In Florida, the fight over alimony can be brutal. It is among the most fiercely litigated issues in divorce court. Disagreements can often pitch a couple into another stratosphere of hatred and acrimony. Taxpayer-supported judges spend days resolving disputes over late payments, unpaid attorney fees and hateful social media posts. Legal arguments and hearings sometimes continue for years, until there is no money left to divide.

• Hooper: Hillsborough officials, not legislators from all around the state, should decide how our money should be spent.

Epilogue: Don Spicer, St. Pete mayor who crossed the political aisle, dies at 91, he served the Sunshine City from 1969 to 1971 and died in January but his family will remember him at a service this summer.

• The general election campaign for the Florida House of Representatives District 38 seat starts on Election Day June 18 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Danny Burgess, who became chief of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. The June 18 special election pits Republican Randy Maggard against Democrat Kelly Smith.

• Before there were YouTube stars, there were Public Access stars. Public access channels made local stars out of their less inhibited residents. Then, one by one, the channels folded. Can Hillsborough County’s network, the last in Florida, find a way to survive?

• All through duck-hunting season, shotgun blasts rattled the people living along canals that squiggle out from Hunters Lake. Residents complained in Hernando County Commission meetings about the distress that hunters wrought in pursuit of the ducks. Will the state stop it?

A driverless bus for tourist pickups on Clearwater Beach? A test of such an autonomous vehicle is in the planning for a 1-mile loop on Mandalay Avenue, according to Richard Hartman, the city’s senior transportation planner.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.

• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• For six years now, we’ve watched professionals use sand to create art at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. They’ve made mermaids and Bob Marley and Lady Gaga and castles in the sand. It’s free to enter Saturday’s Pro-Am Sand Sculpting Tournament or the family competion on Easter Sunday.

• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports. Times sportswriter Rick Stroud has the latest reaction and analysis from the whole team via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

• In Augusta on Sunday, Tiger Woods won the Masters, capping a remarkable recovery from debilitating injuries and embarrassing personal problems to claim his 15th major title. The win was his first since the 2008 U.S. Open.

NFL draft profile: West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. Florida Gators fans remember Will Grier. One of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the nation, he started five of six games following a redshirt year and went 5-0. But he was suspended for a year by the NCAA for taking a performance-enhancing supplement.

• For the latest on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the season and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• What has 162 pages, hundreds of photographs of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup playoffs and would look great on your coffee table? Why it’s the hard-cover book the Tampa Bay Times will produce about this most extraordinary Lightning season. Order your copy (or two, or three) by clicking here.

• Get the latest Rays’ news from Marc Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• The Rays put a winning finish on their road trip, beating the Blue Jays 8-4. It’s a team effort in Toronto to finish the three-city road trip 7-2 and come home with a 12-4 record.

• The Bucs have a new head coach and the NFL draft is almost here. Keep up with the latest offseason changes by following the Times’ Bucs page which is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

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