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Driver gets jail in wreck that killed pal

William Beckner, charged with driving under the influence/manslaughter for an accident in June that killed a friend, was sentenced Monday to six months in jail and two years on community control. Beckner, 21, of Homosassa Springs, and Eddie Layton were driving on Ozello Trail on June 16 when their car went off the road and hit a tree, killing Layton. Beckner was driving.

The Florida Highway Patrol took samples of Beckner's blood to determine whether alcohol was involved in the crash.

Monday, Beckner pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide, a lesser charge.

Assistant Public Defender David Tarbert asked that Beckner be sentenced only to the community control. Beckner has a wife and two children to support, Tarbert said, and if adjudication were withheld, he could keep his job.

But Circuit Judge John Thurman cited Beckner's record, which included a 1988 reckless driving incident that also involved alcohol.

"He obviously didn't learn his lesson" the first time, Thurman said.

In addition, prosecutors said Layton's family had requested jail time for Beckner.

In other court news Monday: Sadie Marie Veal, accused of fatally stabbing her live-in companion, will serve three years in prison and pay $450 in restitution to the victim's family.

Veal, 21, of Ozello, was charged with stabbing Roger Dale Ferguson on April 9. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Duncan James MacRae Jr. pleaded no contest to possession of a weapon by a felon. MacRae, 37, of Homosassa, must serve six months' probation, pay a $200 fine plus court costs and forfeit a .22-caliber rifle.

The case began Sept. 11 when MacRae and an acquaintance were arguing. The other man, identified in sheriff's reports as David Revis, was shot in the leg and shoulder.

Timothy Knowles, the Beverly Hills volunteer firefighter accused of setting two fires, may avoid the courtroom altogether.

Officials are recommending that Knowles' case be handled by a pretrial intervention program, designed to keep first-time offenders out of the court system.

Knowles, 19, is accused of setting two small brush fires in January.

Thurman set Feb. 27 as the trial date for a 24-year-old Inglis man accused in December of sexual battery. The man allegedly beat a woman and forced her to perform a sexual act. The man's name is being withheld to protect the woman's identity.

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