1. Archive

Store owner declares "Kill-A-Thief' week

A convenience store owner tired of burglars breaking into his business has declared "National Kill-A-Thief Week." William Clapp, whose Sweet Williams Convenient Foods store has been burglarized twice in two months, posted a sign outside announcing his sentiment after becoming frustrated with police investigations of the break-ins, manager Sandy Villa said Wednesday. Lt. Sadie Darnell, a spokeswoman for the Gainesville Police Department, warned against taking rash action. "The only time you have a right to use deadly force is if you or someone close to you is in immediate danger of death or serious injury," she said.Girl to go home for first time

JACKSONVILLE _ An 18-month-old Middleburg girl, who has spent her entire life in the hospital, is going home after an insurance company had a change of heart. Doctors at Wolfson Children's Hospital have wanted to discharge Samantha Sawyer for weeks because her condition was so improved, but they didn't because her parents' insurance policy wouldn't pay for the machines to sustain her at home. The child, who was born five months prematurely, has suffered from breathing problems because her lungs were not fully developed at birth. Blue Cross officials agreed this week that the company would pay for the machines and the maintenance, even though the home-use costs aren't covered under the insurance policy. "When our case manager from the insurance company handed me the letter telling me they would pay for everything, I just cried," said Debra Sawyer, Samantha's mother. The girl is expected to go home next week.

Auditors to revise critical report

TALLAHASSEE _ State auditors will revise a draft report that was critical of the state's welfare-to-work program. The draft audit of Project Independence, a pet project of Gov. Bob Martinez, concluded the program doesn't make much of a difference in the lives of welfare clients. The draft audit was released last month. "The Project Independence program's effect in enabling Aid to Families with Dependent Children clients to become self-supporting is minimal," the report said. Once such a draft is released, the audited agency has 30 days to respond. The final audit contains that response and the auditor's final comment. "It happens on several audits each year," said Wade Melton, who manages audits in the office of auditor general Charles Lester. Melton said he couldn't say to what extent the original draft would be revised.

Marine Patrol can stop cars, court says

TALLAHASSEE _ Florida Marine Patrol officers who enforce the law on state waterways also have jurisdiction to make traffic stops on state roads, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The ruling came in a case where Marine Patrol officers stopped a Dade County man for straddling lanes and ended up making a drunken-driving arrest. In his defense, the driver argued that the officers did not have the authority to stop him. A trial court agreed and the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision. The state Supreme Court, however, ruled that the lower courts had misinterpreted state law.

Four rescued after plane crashes

ORLANDO _ A single-engine plane with four people aboard Thursday plunged into a lake about 100 feet from the runway, officials said. All four people were rescued, along with the family dog, Madonna. One person was slightly injured. The family was flying to Orlando from North Carolina when the engine on its Piper Archer quit at 6,000 feet, officials said. Wylie Lowrey Jr. was at the controls when the plane crashed into Lake Barton at 12:45 p.m. The owner of a nearby boat business and an employee grabbed a boat and motored to the downed plane. They rescued Betty Lowrey, 55, and her 60-year-old husband, Wylie Sr., of Charlotte, N.C.; her 75-year-old mother, Vergie Horne of Georgia; and the couple's son, Wylie Jr. of Washington, D.C.

Man guilty of attempted hijacking

JACKSONVILLE _ A South Georgia man was convicted Wednesday of attempting to hijack an Eastern Airlines jet at Jacksonville International Airport, even though he never set foot in the plane. Reginald Calvin Grant, 33, drove his car in front of the jet in November 1988. "We have not alleged that Reginald Grant is a good hijacker or even a smart hijacker," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Henry, adding that Grant "shouldn't be rewarded for incompetence." The Waycross, Ga., man also was found guilty of entering a secured area of the airport. The two convictions carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Sentencing has not been scheduled.

_ Compiled by DAVID CONYERS from wire reports