Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

News at Noon: Bondi among RNC speakers; Rays begin second half; Teacher of Year tonight; slaying suspect blames wife

Next week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland will include speaking roles for some prominent Floridians, including Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Dr. Ben Carson and Gators football legend Tim Tebow.

RAYS BACK TO WORK

The Rays will try to put a largely dismal first half to rest today when they return to practice with a 3 p.m. optional workout at the Trop in advance of Friday's game against the Orioles. Having lost 22 of their last 25 going into the break, the Rays are hoping the respite leads to a fresh start as they are in last place with a 34-54 record.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR NAMED TONIGHT

Donald Blake, an electricity teacher at Marchman Technical College in Pasco County, could learn tonight if he is the 2017 Florida Teacher of the Year. If he is, he would be the first career-technical education teacher to do so, as well as the first from Pasco. He is one of five finalists, and the award ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando. Want to watch? You can stream the event on YouTube.

SUSPECT IN TARPON SPRINGS DOCTOR'S SLAYING BLAMES WIFE

"I made a few mistakes," he said, "but I never killed a man." Anton Stragaj faces a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of Dr. Steven Patlin Schwartz, a 74-year-old doctor found dead inside his Tarpon Springs mansion in 2014. Stragaj was a handyman who renovated Schwartz family properties before he was accused of fatally shooting and stabbing the doctor. While Stragaj told his story, hoping to reach a primetime network audience, detectives recorded the June 5 interview, which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. So who did it? Stragaj told "48 Hours" that it was the doctor's widow, Rebecca Schwartz, who killed her husband.

GINSBURG ADMITS CRITICISM OF TRUMP WAS A 'ILL-ADVISED'

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she regrets her criticism of Donald Trump and promised to be more circumspect in the future. In a statement, she said judges should avoid commenting on candidates for public office.

ST. PETERSBURG CARJACKING SUSPECT, 16, ARRESTED

Police late Wednesday arrested a 16-year-old boy accused of stealing a woman's car and assaulting her at the Wawa on 22nd Avenue N. Officers with a unit that targets habitual juvenile offenders found the boy shortly before midnight, according to St. Petersburg police. The teen will face a charge of carjacking, police said. The Tampa Bay Times is withholding his name because of his age.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

A tow truck pull a Mercedes SUV from the water Thursday morning behind Shark Tales and Crab Daddy's restaurants at the end of 75th Avenue in St. Pete Beach.

SUV PLUNGES INTO WATER AT ST. PETE BEACH

A search continues for a possible passenger in a Mercedes sport utility vehicle that plunged into the water in Blind Pass early this morning. The driver, meanwhile, is being treated at a local hospital while authorities search for a possible passenger. The SUV crashed through a fence into the water at the end of 75th Avenue, just outside Shark Tales and Crab Daddy's restaurants, about 3 a.m., according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Yhe driver managed to free himself from the car, deputies said. He told authorities "someone may have been with him", but when a tow crew yanked the vehicle from the water, they did not find a body.

FOR NOW, IT'S RUBIO'S RACE, LATEST POLL SHOWS

Marco Rubio has a big lead over either Democrat Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson, a new Quinnipiac poll shows, a reassuring sign for the GOP, which hopes to hold on to the Senate.

ST. PETERSBURG CHEF OPTS FOR SEA LEGS

Ahoy fine dining! Suzy Johnson worked as a cook at Apropos before giving up the daily grind of land life to pursue her catering business from a 36-foot houseboat. She talks about how boating is integral to her start as a cook, the shift to being her own boss and her life on the water.

LARA CERRI | Times

Suzy Johnson sold Apropos, a go-to downtown St. Petersburg lunch spot in the 1980s and again in 2011 and 2012, to move to a 36-foot houseboat. She now works as a personal chef.

DEPUTIES: BOY SCOUT LEADER TEXTED NUDE PICTURES

A Boy Scout leader was arrested Wednesday after he sent nude pictures of himself to an underage boy, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. Patrick R. Ferguson, 18, of Pinellas Park, is charged with transmitting harmful material to minors by electronic device, a felony, according to the sheriff's office. In June, Ferguson sent a nude photo of himself to a 14-year-old boy, the sheriff's office said. At the time, Ferguson was a Boy Scout leader. He is being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond.

TRUMP'S VEEP MYSTERY SLATED TO END FRIDAY MORNING

With an 11 a.m. announcement that has "Apprentice"-like anticipation for some, Donald Trump is expected to announce a running mate from these finalists: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

TOXIC ALGAE THREATENING EAGLES, OTHER BIRDS

Hydrilla may already be an invasive stubborn plant to Floridians, but now there is a new fear with the fresh-water plant – that toxic algae living on the leaves has been killing thousands of birds. Named the "eagle-killer that lives on hydrilla," this algae causes a neurological breakdown in plant-eating birds, and subsequently kills predatory birds like eagles that feed on the easy targets.

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