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Chained dog starts fire

WEST PALM BEACH - A dog chained in a utility room while his owners were away Tuesday wrapped his metal leash around the terminals of a car battery, causing sparks and a fire that destroyed the room and killed the dog. "I just can't believe it happened to us," said Shari Fults, 43. The Fultses leashed their salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer, Theodore III, to a set of barbells in the utility room Tuesday morning.Then Marlin Fults, 45, took his disabled wife to a state Health and Rehabilitative Services office for help with rent and medical bills and went to work at Southern Pines Nursery in Loxahatchee. Shari Fults returned home to find her belongings damaged by smoke and her dog, "Teddy," dead inside the front door. "I miss him already," she said Tuesday afternoon.

Three killers' executions set

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Bob Martinez on Wednesday signed death warrants for death row inmates. Willie Mitchell, 40, was sentenced to death for the murder of Walter Harry Shonyo in Hillsborough County on May 1, 1986.

Shonyo was stabbed 110 times. Oscar Torres-Arboledo killed a Hillsborough body shop owner on June 24, 1981. The two are scheduled to die in the electric chair on April 24. Carl Jackson, 45, has been scheduled for electrocution March 27. Jackson was condemned for the murders of two people during a convenience store robbery on April 20, 1975. This is the first death warrant for Mitchell and Torres-Arboledo and the second for Jackson. No inmate has been executed in Florida under a first warrant since the state resumed executions in 1979.

Ex-UF president recovering from surgery

GAINESVILLE - Former University of Florida President Stephen O'Connell, 74, of Tallahassee, was in fair condition Wednesday at Shands Hospital, where he is recovering from surgery to correct an abdominal aneurysm. O'Connell, a former state Supreme Court chief justice who served as UF president from 1967-73, had surgery at Shands twice in January, hospital spokesman Chris Smith said. The initial operation was Jan 13. He was released Jan 21 and re-admitted Jan. 23 and underwent surgery again Jan. 31. David Challoner, UF vice president for health affairs, reported on O'Connell's condition at Interim President Robert Bryan's staff meeting Tuesday, saying O'Connell's prognosis was good.

Day-care owner released on bail

FORT LAUDERDALE - A day-care center owner facing sexual exploitation charges was released from jail on $70,000 bail Wednesday after being given a psychiatric evaluation and a venereal disease test, authorities said. John W. Shaver, 56, faces 24 counts of sexual performance of a child and five counts of possession of child pornography stemming from the discovery of 3,200 photos of nude and semi-nude children at his home. The tests were set Tuesday as a condition of Shaver's release following a suicide attempt and positive tests for gonorrhea of the throat in three children who attended his Rainbow Learning Center. "He was administered the tests today and the results will not be in before Friday," said Broward County sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal.

Man convicted of killing wife

WEST PALM BEACH - A jury rejected a man's self-defense claim and found him guilty Wednesday of murdering his wife by stabbing her 12 times in the couple's Boca Raton home. Jurors deliberated about 90 minutes before finding Anthony Coviello, 39, guilty of first-degree murder. The jury will meet again to decide whether to recommend life in prison or the death penalty for Coviello. Coviello, who testified Tuesday that his wife had an explosive temper and a cocaine problem, said he stabbed her May 26, 1989, after she threatened him with a rifle.

- Compiled by DAVID CONYERS from wire reports