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Curtis Krueger, Times Staff Writer

Curtis Krueger

Curtis Krueger is the Pinellas courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and has written for the Times since 1987. He also covers a variety of other issues, including space and science.

Phone: (727) 893-8232

Email: ckrueger@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CKruegerTimes

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  1. North Florida clerk asks federal judge to clarify gay marriage ruling

    Courts

    A federal court says Florida can no longer ban same-sex marriages and yet the most basic questions — Who can be married? When? — have not been answered.

    So a North Florida county clerk went to court Tuesday, asking whether the recent ruling means she should approve marriage licenses for all same-sex couples who ask for them, or just for one couple who filed a lawsuit challenging the ban....

  2. Former therapist in Pinellas admits to having sex with patient

    Criminal

    LARGO — A former mental health counselor was sentenced on Monday to six months in the Pinellas County Jail plus six years' probation, for having sexual relations with one patient and stealing from another.

    Richard Walter Fedora, 66, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist and grand theft, both felonies. Under the terms of his probation, he cannot work in the mental health field and cannot contact his victims....

  3. Two life sentences plus 15 years for Pinellas murderer of two

    Criminal

    LARGO — Jamaal Jenkins fled all the way to Louisiana after killing his former girlfriend and murdering someone else she had dated. When officers brought the fugitive back to the Pinellas County Jail, he tried to escape.

    But now Jenkins, 27, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Jenkins stood in court on Tuesday and admitted he killed Destynee Nekole Burkes, 24, and Tieyannie Dewitte Hollis, 31, two years ago. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton gave him two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole — plus 15 years....

  4. Leader of Tampa Bay prostitution ring gets 30 years in prison

    Criminal

    LARGO — A St. Petersburg man was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday for running a shadowy prostitution ring that victimized women on both sides of Tampa Bay.

    Peter Kitt, 42, was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy in October in connection with the case, which involved allegations of sex trafficking.

    "For 13 years, this defendant preyed upon women who were not able to really fend for themselves," assistant statewide prosecutor Joseph Spataro said Friday....

    Peter Kitt was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy for running a prostitution ring in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
  5. Man convicted of first-degree murder after police say his own map led them to his gun

    Criminal

    LARGO — Prosecutors did not exactly have a smoking gun in the trial against Cody Dials. But they did have a letter and a map they say he created. Those documents led police to a handgun they said was used to kill commercial fisherman David Rhea.

    With that evidence and testimony from numerous people, a jury on Wednesday convicted Dials of first-degree murder for shooting Rhea, 39.

    Immediately afterward, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton asked Dials if he had any statement he wanted to make in court....

    Prosecutors say that Cody Dials drew this map while in Pinellas County Jail and that it details how to find the .25-caliber handgun used in the murder of David Rhea, 39, in May 2012. Dials was convicted of first-degree murder on Wednesday.
  6. Coast Guard begins court-martial against seaman accused of sexual assault

    Military

    CLEARWATER — The U.S. Coast Guard's Clearwater Air Station is known as the launch point for countless rescue missions to save stranded boaters and capsized fishermen.

    But on Monday, Coast Guard personnel convened for a much different purpose: court-martial proceedings against a seaman.

    Seaman Colby C. Bailey appeared at the proceedings Monday morning to face charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in Clearwater in June 2013. Attorneys on Monday worked on selecting a jury of active-duty Coast Guard personnel. Unlike the state court system, these jurors could decide Bailey's sentence if he is convicted....

  7. Seven facts about NASA's Orion spacecraft that could take astronauts to Mars (w/video)

    Space

    Just in case you wondered whatever happened to the American space program, NASA is about to launch a new craft designed to carry humans far beyond Earth.

    The Orion spacecraft is set to launch Thursday from Cape Canaveral. It will be an unmanned, inaugural test flight.

    The stubby space capsule doesn't look like much, but its mission is audacious — to eventually send U.S. astronauts to distant locations such as asteroids, the moon or even Mars....

    Orion, with its safe, tried-and-true design, passes the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 11.
  8. Self-defense argument made in drug deal murder case

    Crime

    LARGO — The drug dealer and the addict argued over a rock of crack cocaine, and it ended when the dealer shot his customer.

    Defense attorneys say the man who fatally shot a cocaine buyer in a Largo parking lot should not be prosecuted for first-degree murder because any "reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances" would have done the same thing.

    This new argument on behalf of Byron Jackson sounds a lot like — and relies on — Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law....

    Byron Jackson, 33, is charged with first-degree murder during a 
drug deal. 
  9. Citing new witness, attorney and family seek retrial for St. Petersburg man convicted of murder

    Criminal

    ST. PETERSBURG — A week after Artez Hooker was convicted of murdering a man outside a nightclub, his attorney says he should be granted another trial, partly because a new witness has come forward.

    The new witness — who emerged after Hooker's Nov. 7 conviction — says someone other than Hooker has confessed to the killing, according to defense attorney Kelly McCabe.

    McCabe spoke at a news conference Friday with about 30 family members and friends of Hooker's. Their message: In spite of his extensive criminal record, Hooker would not have done something so reckless that would separate him from his family. ...

  10. Linda Osmundson, CASA director and Christian Scientist, prays for healing without medicine

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Linda Osmundson is a domestic violence survivor who has helped thousands of women break from their abusers and find new lives.

    She took up cycling in her 50s, pedaled across the country and became a triathlete.

    She has a record of beating the odds.

    But now she is struggling with a new challenge, and she's doing it in a way that few can fully understand, and many would even find irrational. ...

    Osmundson, center, smiles during Academy Prep’s Five Fabulous Females award presentations at the TradeWinds resort in St. Pete Beach in February 2013.
  11. Man convicted of murder in St. Petersburg killing

    Criminal

    A St. Petersburg man was convicted Friday of first-degree murder for shooting another man at a local nightclub.

    Artez Hooker, 31, was sentenced to life in prison for shooting 32-year-old Doncaro Small on June 16 during a brawl at the Hollywood Nites Club, 1201 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S in St. Petersburg. The case took an unusual twist when police also accused Hooker, 31, of offering to pay someone $20,000 to take the blame for the killing. Hooker was also convicted of witness tampering in the case....

  12. David Jolly easily wins first full-term in Congress

    Elections

    Less than a year after David Jolly narrowly won a bruising and expensive special election for a Pinellas congressional seat, he cruised to re-election on Tuesday against a Libertarian candidate.

    Jolly, a Republican, defeated Lucas Overby by a commanding margin.

    After winning in March, Jolly said, "If I do my job, the politics will take care of itself." He felt that Tuesday's result proved that point, and he will continue with that same approach in the next two years....

    David Jolly
  13. Four times in three months, Pinellas-Pasco judge removed from cases

    Criminal

    Four times in the past three months, Pinellas County Judge Susan Bedinghaus has been asked to remove herself from criminal cases because of questions about her fairness, according to court documents.

    St. Petersburg Bar Association president Lucas Fleming said he cannot remember a local judge facing so many disqualification motions in a brief period. However, he added that in his dealings with Bedinghaus, he always thought she had been fair....

  14. Duke Energy claim stirs bipartisan mudslinging in Pinellas

    Blog

    With Election Day one week away, some Pinellas candidates have reached an odd moment of bipartisanship: Democrats and Republicans are slinging the same mud at each other.

    In a biting new campaign commercial, Republican state House candidate Bill Young falsely claims his opponent, state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, voted to let Duke Energy charge fees for nuclear plants that may never be built....

  15. In Pinellas, Duke Energy claim stirs bipartisan mudslinging

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — With Election Day one week away, some Pinellas candidates have reached an odd moment of bipartisanship: Democrats and Republicans are slinging the same mud at each other.

    In a biting new campaign commercial, Republican state House candidate Bill Young falsely claims his opponent, state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, voted to let Duke Energy charge fees for nuclear plants that may never be built....