09/03/15 The Feed
The news jumped out at me from Twitter. I stared for several seconds in disbelief.
This wasn't the kind of thing I could shout across a newsroom cubicle and expect anyone to understand. It required a call home, to the one person who would know exactly how I felt.
Word had traveled fast.
"Did you hear?" asked my 92-year-old Cuban grandmother in that hushed voice she reserves for announcing the death of a distant relative....
08/27/15 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — When Claire Lachance learned that the adults with disabilities class her daughter has been attending for the last 12 years was canceled, she couldn't believe it.
"It was kind of a blow," she said. "This isn't really happening. They must have made a mistake."
Lachance didn't want to tell her daughter, Susan Levesque, about the news.
But thanks to funding from the city of Tarpon Springs, she won't have to. The Gro Group program is scheduled to resume after Labor Day, the only program of its kind that will start this school year despite a recent cut in state funding....
Police: Man ate stolen chicken in Publix restroom, faces theft charge
Officers last week arrested a 35-year-old man who was accused of taking a chicken from the deli area of a Publix and then eating it inside a restroom, an arrest report states.
Video surveillance at the store on Belcher Road captured Toby Howard of Clearwater entering the restroom with the chicken that he had not paid for. An employee later found an open package of chicken....
08/26/15 Human Interest
Michael Honeycutt saw the news Sunday night: a University of South Florida student hospitalized in Cuba for weeks because her family couldn't afford to fly her home for treatment.
The CEO of Jet ICU, a Brooksville-based air ambulance company that has flown more than 15,000 patients worldwide, Honeycutt wanted to help.
As early as Friday, one of his jets will fly Barbara Jimenez, 22, to Tampa for free. She will be admitted to Tampa General Hospital....
A medical transport company has offered to fly a University of South Florida student hospitalized in Cuba back to the state for free, Rep. David Jolly said Tuesday.
Barbara Jimenez, 22, could be back in Florida as early as this week.
"This is hopefully going to be a very good week," Jolly said. "We are hopeful that this concludes on behalf of the family."
Jimenez was seriously injured this month in a car wreck that killed her cabdriver and injured her boyfriend and two relatives near Havana. She does not have health insurance and her parents couldn't afford a medically supported flight to Florida, a service that they said could cost tens of thousands of dollars....
08/22/15 Human Interest
The daughter of Cuban parents, Barbara Jimenez has dreams of attending law school after graduating from the University of South Florida. She wants to be a litigation lawyer.
But earlier this month, she and her boyfriend, John Fox, were seriously injured in a car crash while visiting her family in Cuba. And because she doesn't have health insurance, she can't return to the United States for care. Flying her back could cost tens of thousands of dollars, her family said....
A state appeals court reversed four 65-year sentences of a Hillsborough County man convicted of sexually assaulting a high school student and a day care worker when he was a teenager.
Kendrick Morris, 23, will be granted a new sentencing, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Friday, because of a recent ruling that determined imposing lengthy prison terms on juveniles convicted of crimes other than murder is unconstitutional. Those sentences fail to provide them with "a meaningful opportunity" for early release based on maturity and rehabilitation, the opinion reads....
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Benjamin Bishop's mind is often clouded with delusions and hallucinations, according to his defense attorneys.
But prosecutors argued during his murder trial this week that Bishop knew what he was doing on Oct. 28, 2012, when he grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun and fired eight times at his mother, Imari Shibata, and her boyfriend, Kelley Allen, inside their Oldsmar home at 205 Cedar Key Court....
LARGO — A 12-member jury began deliberating Friday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of a man charged with fatally shooting his mother, Imari Shibata, and her boyfriend, Kelley Allen.
Prosecutors said that in the early morning of Oct. 28, 2012, Benjamin Bishop grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun he had been hiding from his family and walked to his mother's room. When Shibata asked what he was doing, Bishop fired at her and Allen several times. Shibata, a nursing assistant, and Allen, a swim coach, died inside the home at 205 Cedar Key Court in Oldsmar. Prosecutors said Bishop killed them because he was angry at his mother, who had told him that evening that he needed to take his medications and get a job....
LARGO — Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Benjamin Bishop thought he was Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, sometimes talked to the TV, and believed gangs were after him.
These are among the delusions that public defender Christina Porrello listed Tuesday to the 12-member jury in the first-degree murder trial of Bishop, 20, charged with fatally shooting his mother, Imari Shibata, and her boyfriend, Kelley Allen, on Oct. 28, 2012....
ST. PETERSBURG — They agreed to meet at a Taco Bell. No guns allowed.
Joe Lentini, 60, stood across from the stranger who promised to get his stolen cars back. Lentini frisked the man for weapons and lifted his own shirt to show he wasn't wired. His new acquaintance asked if he was a cop.
Together, they headed to the back of an abandoned house, where one of Lentini's cars was supposed to be parked....
TARPON SPRINGS — Authorities arrested 14 people accused of selling drugs to undercover investigators during a 45-day operation that targeted two motels on Tarpon Avenue, police said.
The Tarpon Springs Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office began the investigation June 30 at the Tarpon Inn, 110 W Tarpon Ave., and Sunbay Motel, 57 W Tarpon Ave.
"What we have here is the Charlotte's Web of drug dealing thugs," said Tarpon Springs police Chief Robert Kochen. "What's going on in these motels is unacceptable. It greatly affects the quality of life in this area."...
TIERRA VERDE — A taxi driver was heading east through the Pinellas Bayway toll booth on Aug. 6 when his passenger, Robert Melby, 31, asked if he could shoot his handgun out of a window while on the bridge, an arrest report states.
When the driver said no, Melby of Tierra Verde shot the front windshield. Deputies noted in a report that Melby was intoxicated.
He was jailed on a charge of shooting into an occupied vehicle....
CLEARWATER — Investigators determined that the fire that ripped through a mobile home Tuesday night, killing a woman inside, was likely caused by a lit cigarette, fire rescue said.
Clearwater Fire Rescue responded to the Bay Breeze Mobile Home Park, 2975 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., after receiving a call just after 8 p.m. about Lot 215 being engulfed in flames. About 30 firefighters, including some from the Safety Harbor Fire Department, extinguished the flames within 15 minutes....
08/08/15 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter got no easy questions during a recent community meeting at the North Greenwood recreation center.
With a microphone in hand, he faced dozens of residents and answered many questions, including these, without hesitation: How can we make sure our youth won't be victimized by Clearwater police? What kind of training do officers receive? What is going on with body cameras?...