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Hearing for officer opened, delayed

TAMPA _ A hearing for Tampa Police Officer Stephen McCammond, who police say beat up a trespassing suspect walking through a public housing complex, was postponed Thursday after a city attorney ruled that the hearing was open to the public. Reporters for WTSP-Channel 10 had asked to attend the review board hearing. After lawyers reviewed the request, they ruled that the hearing was subject to the state's Sunshine Laws, Assistant City Attorney Charlene Edwards said. Police spokesman Steve Cole said that after McCammond learned the media would be present, he asked that the hearing be postponed so attorneys for the Police Benevolent Association could review the city's decision. Last week Chief A.C. McLane upheld a complaint by George Tyrone Daniels, a Tampa man who McCammond arrested in November for trespassing and resisting arrest. The charges were dropped after a police internal affairs report on the arrest was released.Rape suspect, 14, put in county jail

ST. PETERSBURG _ A 14-year-old boy accused of raping another student at Riviera Middle School was moved to the Pinellas County Jail early Thursday to stand trial as an adult. The boy, who was transferred from a juvenile detention facility to the jail at 1:22 a.m., is charged with sexual battery and held in lieu of $50,000 bail. Even if bail were posted, the boy would immediately be readmitted to the Juvenile Detention Center because he faces additional charges in juvenile court.

Two charged in motel lot robberies

BRANDON _ Two Tampa men were charged Thursday with robbing customers in the parking lots of two Brandon motels Wednesday. Sheriff's Capt. Gary Terry said they also might be connected to a string of motel parking lot robberies in east Hillsborough in the past month. Steven Roneil Smith, 22, of 3009 N 43rd St. was charged with two counts of strong-arm robbery and Ira Romain Smith, 19, of 5318 18th Ave. was charged with one count of grand theft and one count of strong arm robbery. The men are not related. The charges relate to robberies at

the Days Inn, State Road 60 west of Faulkenburg Road, and the Red Roof Inn, U.S. 301 south of Interstate 4. In both cases,

cars were stolen from motel guests. Terry said the men also were questioned about robberies Wednesday at two other motels.

Store clerk safety plans requested

ST. PETERSBURG _ The City Council asked its attorneys Thursday to write an ordinance that would help protect convenience store clerks. Similar laws have been approved recently in other Florida communities, including Hillsborough County. "Robbery is increasing, there are more guns on the streets, actions of the drug dealers are unpredictable, crime is occurring outside the high-crime areas, and (convenience store) clerks are being shot for less than $50," said council member Dean Staples, who proposed the ordinance. Some council members suggested requiring two clerks during night shifts, but no decisions were made. The lawyers were asked to have a suggested ordinance written by March 22.

Largo teen killed in wreck

A 16-year-old Largo resident was killed in a head-on collision early Thursday while driving along Alligator Alley near Naples, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Benny Gilley of 18361 Cross St. died at the scene, a Highway Patrol spokeswoman in Naples said in a telephone interview. Gilley's westbound car veered into the opposite lane about 7:20 a.m., the Highway Patrol said. The driver of a semitrailer truck tried to avoid Gilley's car, but the vehicles collided on the road shoulder. The driver of the truck, Emory Jones of Miami, was not injured.

Officers fired in stealing of tires

TAMPA _ Two Tampa Police officers have been fired for stealing batteries and tires from the city garage, authorities said Thursday. An internal affairs investigation also showed that traffic accident investigators Glen Holton, 35, and Jimmy Caplinger, 37, were steering towing business to two Tampa companies in return for gifts. The investigation showed that in return for giving Olivieri's Body Shop and Mitchell's Wrecker Service extra business, the officers received, among other things, used cars, engines, radios and, in one case, a paint job for one of the officer's boats. Neither Holton nor Caplinger could be reached Thursday to comment.

Chimp taking some ape lessons

TAMPA _ At the Lowry Park Zoo, a baby chimp named Muoyo is getting her first lessons in how to act like an ape. The 6-month-old chimpanzee, who was placed in the zoo nursery after her mother would not care for her, spent the beginning of her life cared for by humans, which probably saved her life. Now, officials want her to develop normally and learn to be a chimp. Muoyo has been placed with 5-year-old Twiggy for brief periods so they can check each other out. "Twiggy was very interested. She greeted the new baby and wanted to play," the zoo's general curator, Lex Salisbury, said. As expected, Muoyo "clung tight to her keeper," he said. Although she's not big enough to hold her own with the group, she will get a glimpse of them every day for 15 minutes while being held by her keeper. She cannot join the group until she is bigger and weaned, Salisbury said.

Accidents stir action on beach fires

TAMPA _ As two toddlers burned by buried coals on a beach along the Courtney Campbell Causeway recovered in a hospital Thursday, city Parks Administrator Joe Abrahams told the City Council that police would step up patrols of the beach, where bonfires are illegal. Signs prohibiting the fires also will be posted, he said. The boys, Phillip R. Klimpel and Joseph Oliver O'Riordan, were burned within a few hours of each other Feb. 4 at Ben T. Davis Municipal Beach. Their families believe they were burned by the sand-covered remnants of an illegal bonfire. Abrahams said the boys were burned by coals from a barbecue grill. Both boys' injuries may require skin grafts.

Association, B.J. Thomas to play dome

ST. PETERSBURG _ B.J. Thomas and the Association will headline the Florida Suncoast Dome's eight-hour open house March 4. Among the entertainment scheduled around the headliners is a local Polynesian music group and Orlando Magic basketball stars. The appearances will top off a list of festivities marking the dome's opening, beginning Wednesday with a black-tie reception for invited guests. Gov. Bob Martinez will be host the next night of a dinner to honor professional baseball in Florida. The next day, March 2, will be taken up with rehearsals for singer Kenny Rogers and a home-grown cast of thousands of dancers and musicians who will will perform ahead of him. Event organizers said that Rogers has agreed to allow guests to bring cameras, an unusual concession. For the free open house March 4, the doors will open at at 11:30 a.m. More than 100,000 people are expected for the festivities.

- Compiled by JAY PITTS from staff reports

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