The task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to review Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law spent six months traveling the state, held seven public meetings and heard from 10,000 citizens.
In the end, it did little.
The 19-member group, weighted with supporters of the 2005 bill, issued a report last week, but stopped short of addressing obvious flaws in the law and inconsistencies in its application across the state. ...
On Mother's Day in May 1984, a young lawyer in Arizona named John Donald Cody sent flowers to his mom in Clearwater.
Then he vanished.
Sought by the FBI for stealing and suspected espionage, Cody became a phantom who eluded capture for nearly three decades.
On Oct. 1, almost 30 years after he vanished, federal officials announced they'd finally caught their man. Now 65, he is sitting in a jail cell in Cleveland, charged with running a charity scam in Tampa under the alias Bobby Thompson. ...
The mystery of Bobby Thompson's identity has been resolved.
But the answers just lead to more questions.
Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service announced Monday that the man who used the Thompson alias while running a multimillion-dollar veterans charity from Tampa for nearly a decade is John Donald Cody, a former military intelligence officer who is also a wanted man. ...
HCA hospitals are among Florida's most prolific when it comes to performing two common — and lucrative — heart procedures, state records show.
The nation's largest for-profit hospital chain performed 22 percent more angioplasties and 41 percent more catheterizations per bed than the average hospital in the state, according to 2011 data, the most recent available from Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration....
In December 2004, one of the busiest heart hospitals in the Tampa Bay area made a big splash when it suddenly suspended nine cardiologists — 40 percent of its staff — saying they were doing procedures "that were not always consistent with nationally accepted clinical guidelines."
Administrators at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson sent memos to staff and told reporters the doctors had performed unnecessary procedures, used the wrong stents to prop open clogged arteries and kept incomplete records. Corporate parent HCA even took out a two-page newspaper ad to address the personnel actions, usually a closely kept secret....
The man known as Bobby Thompson lost his public defender at a hearing in Cleveland on Thursday morning. Thompson, who ran the sham charity U.S. Navy Veterans Association for nearly a decade, has been jailed in Cuyahoga County since early May on fraud and money laundering charges.
Mark Stanton, Thompson's public defender, had asked to be relieved of the case. He told Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Annette Butler that one attorney can't handle such a complicated case, especially on a public defender's pay. Stanton, who has been practicing for 30 years, said taking the Thompson case would be a disservice to his other clients. ...
Tavarious China Smith was not particularly lucky. A small-time drug dealer in Manatee County, Smith sold crack and marijuana not once, not twice, but three times to undercover cops.
But in one respect, Smith, 29, hit the jackpot.
On two occasions, more than two years apart, he committed homicides but was not charged thanks to provisions of Florida's "stand your ground" law. Smith claimed self-defense in both cases and prosecutors agreed. He never faced a judge or jury for fatally shooting Nikita Williams, 18, in February 2008 in a drug-related incident or Breon Mitchell, Williams' 23-year-old half-brother, in December 2010....
The elected official in charge of reviewing Florida's "stand your ground" law says legislators might need to make changes to ensure that the law is applied "fairly and equally.''
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll made the statement in response to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 "stand your ground'' cases that showed widespread confusion and disparities in the way the law is being implemented....
In 2006, Laurie Lynn Bartlett killed her boyfriend.
She said he was drunk and tried to sexually assault her. She put a knife in him and got 10 years.
A year later, Ernestine Broxsie killed her ex-boyfriend.
She said he "snapped" and began choking her, so she put a bullet in him. She went free....
Florida's "stand your ground'' law has allowed drug dealers to avoid murder charges and gang members to walk free. It has stymied prosecutors and confused judges. • It has also served its intended purpose, exonerating dozens of people who were deemed to be legitimately acting in self-defense. Among them: a woman who was choked and beaten by an irate tenant and a man who was threatened in his driveway by a felon....
Two guys argue about a barbecue grill. One starts swinging his fists. The other pulls out a gun and shoots. The unarmed man dies. The shooter goes home, no charges filed.
Outrageous or justified?
More than two years after the incident in which he killed Jose "Tito" Ramirez, Owen Eugene Whitlock is still trying to sort his own feelings out. "I really kind of liked the guy," he said....
CLEVELAND — He had at least $1 million in cash, believed to be from donors who thought they were giving to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. But he lived like a pauper, stocking up on beef jerky and bumming meals at homeless shelters.
He had a suitcase full of stolen birth certificates and credit reports, enough identities for a lifetime on the lam. But he used the same names repeatedly, leaving a trail of bread crumbs for investigators to follow....
Clad in an orange jumpsuit, manacled at the wrists and ankles and limping badly, Bobby Thompson was arraigned in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland on Tuesday morning.
After nearly two years as a fugitive, Thompson, 66, pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption, theft and money laundering stemming from his years running U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a sham charity housed in a Tampa duplex....
Among the personal belongings Bobby Thompson left behind in his rented room in Oregon this week was Catch Me If You Can, the hit movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a con man with a knack for stealing identities and evading the law.
Thompson, the mastermind behind the sham U.S. Navy Veterans Association charity, was caught Monday night in Portland after two years on the run.
As authorities continued sifting this week through the room he rented in a boarding house, they found a page full of passwords, two computers and nine thumb drives....
Federal agents seeking clues about Bobby Thompson's true identity got a warrant to search a storage locker in Oregon on Wednesday and found two suitcases.
One was packed with $981,650 in $100s, $50s and $20s.
The other was filled with birth certificates, credit reports and other personal information needed to steal the identities of dozens of unsuspecting people.
U.S. marshals believe the money came from donors to U.S. Navy Veterans Association, the sham charity he ran for years from a duplex in Tampa. ...