The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday vacated the death sentence of a Pasco County man convicted of killing his onetime girlfriend in 2006 and ordered that he be set free.
The court said the state's case against Derral Wayne Hodgkins was "purely circumstantial" and skewered prosecutors for mischaracterizing crucial DNA evidence.
Bjorn Brunvand, the Clearwater defense attorney who defended Hodgkins in his 2011 trial, praised the ruling....
The Pasco Times is about to become a "newspaper within a newspaper."
Beginning May 2, we will introduce a reimagined Pasco Times, a weekly Friday section that will bring a more analytical and insightful look inside government, business, economic development, schools, crime and more. We'll tell stories of interesting characters in our community and keep you in the loop about upcoming events. ...
10/22/13 Human Interest
Charles Arnade used to drive to the post office dressed in a Speedo, mesh tank top and flip-flops. He'd emerge engrossed in his mail and begin to walk home, forgetting about his car parked nearby with the engine running.
That story about the venerable Dr. Arnade was shared by his son Tim, who returned to San Antonio last weekend with his siblings to pay tribute to their mother, Marjorie, who died almost a year ago. Dr. Arnade, a Fulbright scholar and charter member of the USF faculty, died in 2008, a year after the couple sold their stately white house overlooking the city park....
DADE CITY — Jan Glidewell rolled into the St. Petersburg Times newsroom, a high school dropout with an unapologetic swagger. He was hired against the advice of the paper's executive editor and retired 30 years later a local icon.
He reported on serial killers and hookers, dirty politicians and kidnapped children. When he became a columnist, readers on the North Suncoast found an unlikely breakfast table companion, a nudist hippie airing liberal political commentary and tales of his five marriages....
Rep. Mike Fasano's popularity with his constituents was starting to look like a disadvantage after he announced his interest in becoming Pasco's next tax collector.
Fasano said last week that he would like to replace Mike Olson, who died last month after 32 years in office, prompting numerous emails from residents beseeching him to keep his job in the Florida House.
"We need you up in Tallahassee to be a voice for the people of Pasco County," one email read....
A judge dealt another blow Friday to the company seeking to build a politically unpopular 30-acre landfill near Dade City.
The administrative law judge, Bram Canter, wrote in a 50-page recommendation that Angelo's Aggregate Materials' permit application be denied by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which already rejected the permit once based on concerns over sinkholes.
Canter wrote that without an adequate geotechnical investigation, Angelo's failed to insure that the integrity of the structural components of the proposed household garbage landfill would hold up and not pollute the environment....
DADE CITY — Truck driver Dexter Youngblood was making a familiar trip to Largo to deliver a load of medical equipment Tuesday morning.
It was just after 5 a.m. and the road was still dark. He stopped when a semitrailer truck ahead of him halted.
That's when another truck's headlights caught his eye in the rearview mirror. It was barreling down on him.
"I'm dead," Youngblood thought to himself. "I knew it was over."...
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said she hopes Gov. Rick Scott will veto the state budget and call legislators back to Tallahassee to come up with a plan to expand Medicaid.
Speaking Thursday to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, Castor said Scott should use his "political chops" to force a solution on Medicaid. The governor surprised many when he came out in favor of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a law he actively campaigned against. Now he's taking criticism from the law's backers for not trying harder to sway Florida House members who have fought accepting federal money to get health coverage for more uninsured Floridians....
04/30/13 State Roundup
PORT RICHEY — Speaking to 600 diehard Pasco Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday night cast the sensitive work of immigration reform as a national security issue that can't be ignored.
"We have to deal with the people who are here now, and I want to know who they are so I can run them through a background check and a national security check," Rubio said in his keynote speech at the local party's annual Reagan Day dinner fundraiser....
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will headline tonight’s Republican Party of Pasco County Reagan Day Dinner in Port Richey.
The event, which has been sold out for weeks, is at 6 p.m. at Spartan Manor. Rubio is expected to speak after dinner.
But protesters will be out at 5:30 p.m. to greet the crowd. The Pasco Democratic Party and the Pasco chapter of the National Organization for Women announced that they will protest, citing Rubio’s recent votes against new background checks on gun purchases and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act....
As Sandy Hook Elementary parents watched from the balcony, a bipartisan effort to expand background checks on gun sales died Wednesday on the U.S. Senate floor.
Reaction from all sides was intense. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who nearly died from a gunshot to the head in 2011, wrote an impassioned op-ed, charging that senators "gave into fear" and ignored the will of the public....
It was the trip that inspired both a congressional inquiry and a rap song.
When pop star Beyonce and husband, the rapper Jay-Z, traveled to Cuba last week, their getaway ignited a storm of news coverage and questions — because of the couple's celebrity status, but also because of the five-decade-old political stalemate between Washington and the Communist island nation.
Under the United States' longstanding trade embargo, Americans are prohibited from traveling to Cuba for simple tourism. In most cases, they need a license from the U.S. government permitting visits for educational, research, journalistic or missionary work. As reports trickled out of the stars salsa dancing till dawn, two Florida congressional members fired off a letter to President Barack Obama's administration, blasting the trip and invoking the Castro regime's oppression of Cuban people....
After years of inaction, eight senators say they're on the cusp of unveiling a bipartisan proposal to fix the nation's broken immigration system.
Border security, visas and family considerations are all part of the debate. But no topic is so emotional as creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants.
They should be able to earn the right to be called Americans, some advocates argue, with years of work and payment of fines. Others call for legal residency only, allowing people who came illegally to live here but not attain all the benefits of citizenship....
For decades, the National Rifle Association was the one holding the megaphone. Leaders David Keene and Wayne LaPierre voiced vigorous defenses of the Second Amendment and rallied members to resist new gun laws, often with great success.
Now, they have an opponent. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wields the power of public office and his own personal fortune, and he's using both to push for legislation that puts new limits on firearms....
Sequestration is serious business. Jobs are on the line. Day care for poor kids is under the ax.
Yet even in this budget climate, your federal government still has the money to pay for — please disregard our blushing — a study examining duck penises.
You read that right: duck penises.
This waterfowl kerfuffle erupted last week, when the conservative website CNSNews.com published a story pulling back the curtain on a $384,949 grant from the National Science Foundation for a Yale University study looking at ducks' sexual behavior and anatomy and the evolutionary consequences....