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Zephyrhills man arrested in accidental shooting

ZEPHYRHILLS — A 23-year-old man has been charged with third-degree murder after an accidental shooting in January.

Austin T. Harden was arrested Tuesday. Capt. Robert McKinney of the Zephyrhills Police Department would not release many details of the shooting, including the victim's name, saying the case remains open.

McKinney said the incident happened just after 2 a.m. Jan. 29 at 6511 Victorian Way in Zephyrhills.

Harden made news in 2007 when his petition to be removed from the state's sex offender registry was granted. He sought removal under Florida's "Romeo and Juliet" law, which distinguishes cases of teenagers having consensual sex from cases of rape and molestation.

Harden pleaded no contest to lewd and lascivious battery in 2006. When he was 16, he was in a sexual relationship with his 14-year-old girlfriend.

Harden has served two stints in prison, totaling more than three years, for several convictions of theft, arson, burglary and his "Romeo and Juliet" lewd and lascivious molestation case. Harden, of 6336 20th St. in Zephyrhills, is being held at the Pasco County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Zephyrhills man arrested in accidental shooting 04/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 9:01pm]
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