The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that juries in death penalty cases must be unanimous. Their decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court found Florida's death penalty law unconstitutional because juries played only an advisory role in recommending life or death. State legislators recently passed new sentencing guidelines that requires juries to unanimously determine "the existence of at least one aggravating factor" before defendants can be eligible for death sentences, but only required at least 10 jurors to recommend the death penalty for the sentence to be imposed.
INSURANCE AGENT'S TIP LEADS TO ARREST IN FATAL HIT-AND-RUN
Troopers say a Clearwater man was behind the wheel of the vehicle that fatally slammed into 17-year-old Ashley Perdomo on Wednesday night. Nikolaos Konstantinou, 56, had summoned an insurance agent to his home Thursday to assess the damage to his 2002 Hyundai Sonata but couldn't or wouldn't offer details about what happened, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The insurance agent called FHP and sent photos of the damage. Within hours, Konstantinou was behind bars on charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
U.S. REMOVES LIMITS ON BRINGING IN CUBAN RUM, CIGARS
The Obama administration says it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most people will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum.
GOP CANDIDATES DOWN BALLOT ARE FEELING THE TRUMP EFFECT
While both major parties and political experts for months said they anticipated little impact from Donald Trump on downballot races for Congress and the state Legislature, all that has changed over the past two weeks. Trump's 2005 comments about grabbing women sexually without consent, has ignited a new firestorm that has Republicans in even what were thought to be safe districts worried about what has become known as the "Trump effect."
[Image from YouTube video]
TAMPA BAY REAL ESTATE MOGUL MIXES PROFIT WITH PROFANE
Ben Mullah is this bombastic Tony Soprano/Donald Trump hybrid with a knack for being both offensive and endearing. Through all the contradictions, what's certain is Mallah has carved out a niche of Tampa Bay real estate that has made him millions: buying dilapidated properties, fixing them up and flipping them for a profit, only to reinvest those earnings into another deal. This tactic allows investors to defer capital gains taxes. But it demands constant turnover to avoid paying up on that massive accumulated tax bill. It works because hustling comes easy to Mallah.
IVANKA TRUMP RETURNS TO TRAIL WITH NO SIGN OF TURBULENCE
When Donald Trump is in trouble with women voters, he has often called on his daughter, Ivanka, an executive and entrepreneur as smooth as he is rough-hewed, as calming as he is potentially alarming. She was back Thursday, in four carefully stage-managed swing through the Philadelphia suburbs, each with a serious political purpose: to rouse and inspire the volunteers in the closing weeks of the presidential race.
NEIGHBORHOOD RAVAGED BY HOUSING CRASH MAKES WAY BACK
In Florida, few counties were hit harder by the foreclosure crisis than Hillsborough, and no place in Hillsborough suffered more than Kings Lake. One in five homes in the Gibsonton community were foreclosed on during the housing crash. How has it recovered, and what's next as the region's housing market grows again?
HOW TO USE MEDICARE'S ONLINE PLAN FINDER
Federal health officials have announced that 2017 Medicare Advantage premiums will remain stable, and more enrollees will have access to higher-quality plans. The average premiums in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will also remain stable. Our special Medicare issue of LifeTimes contains several charts to help people choose their plans for 2017. But those are only a general guide. By far, the best way to choose your coverage is by consulting Medicare's online Plan Finder.
SON OF LATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, SPEAKS TO TAMPA JURISTS
The Rev. Paul Scalia, visiting from the Diocese of Arlington, Va., and son of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was a guest of honor Thursday night at Sacred Hearth Catholic Church in Tampa, conducting the annual Red Mass for lawyers and judges. He spoke about faith being a guide for those who seek justice, and he suggested that justice and mercy are compatible ideals.
THEATER REVIEW: 'PSYCHO BEACH PARTY' IS A SELF-ASSURED, CAMPY COMEDY
No one ever thought movies like Beach Blanket Bingo depicted real life, even in the 1960s. People aren't that happy. Their problems are messier than Frankie and Annette's. Yet there is something oddly addictive about this world that never was, an electromagnetic field about the size of the beach. That is the hook within Psycho Beach Party, Stageworks Theatre's season opener.
[Charlie Kaijo | Times]
POOL PROMISE MOTIVATES SWIMMER AFTER CANCER DIAGNOSIS
Cailin Cannella lives in an underwater world. The Academy of Holy Names seventh grader is most comfortable around pools, the ocean, anywhere she can swim. She is so good that she was among the favorites to place at this year's Class 2A state meet in the 100-yard breaststroke against high school swimmers much older. But those ambitions are on hold. She is battling a more formidable opponent. In September, on her 13th birthday, Cannella was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that usually affects children, often around the knee. But that does not deter Cannella. She plans to be back in the water, sooner rather than later.
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