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Man is accused of tormenting former girlfriend for 20 years

An Illinois man accused of tormenting his high school sweetheart with unwanted letters for more than 20 years surrendered in court Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale to answer a federal indictment. David S. Taylor, 40, is charged with two counts of mailing threatening letters. Court documents say Taylor continued to torment Kathleen McHugh Goldstein and her family even after he was aware he was under investigation by the FBI. Taylor and Kathleen McHugh attended Midlothian High School near Chicago in the 1960s, but their romance ended after graduation. The Goldsteins, who live in Coral Springs, ignored Taylor's correspondence for years, but they alerted the FBI this year when the letters became threatening. "Your husband, David Goldstein, will have his health take a turn for the worse this Christmas season, and you will be widowed in 1990," Taylor wrote in a greeting card to Mrs. Goldstein last year. Court documents also say Taylor asked a federal prison inmate in July to kill the Goldsteins.Murder defendant stabs self

PORT CHARLOTTE _ A first-degree murder trial was indefinitely delayed after the defendant stabbed himself in the abdomen with a ballpoint pen, officials said Wednesday. William Ennis, 38, was taken to Medical Center Hospital in Punta Gorda on Tuesday with a pen driven 4 inches into his midsection, said officials with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. Surgeons repaired punctured internal organs and removed Ennis' appendix, officials said. He was in stable condition Wednesday, officials said. Ennis and his brother, David, 32, are charged with killing a North Fort Myers store clerk in February 1987.

Damages awarded over crash

PENSACOLA _ A jury Wednesday awarded $60,000 to a Pensacola woman for mental distress and other damages from a plane crash that destroyed her apartment. Gulf Power executive Jacob "Jake" Horton and the plane's two pilots died in the crash April 10, 1989. Maria Hughes, who filed the suit, was trapped briefly in the rubble of her apartment, but her only physical injury was a cut on one hand. In the suit, she contended she has had nightmares and has been depressed and suicidal because of the traumatic experience. "I'm very irritable," she told the jury. After a long pause and some prompting from her attorney, she added, "I can't get along with anybody. I'm depressed all the time." Southern Company Services, a sister company of Gulf Power and owner of the plane, had agreed to pay damages to Hughes, leaving the jury to decide only the amount.

Angry judge reduces bail

WEST PALM BEACH _ An angry judge warned prosecutors to either charge Michael Warren with the murder of his wife _ killed by someone dressed as a clown _ or let him out of jail on unrelated charges. "I'm not going to take that into consideration," Circuit Judge Thomas Sholts said Tuesday of Warren's status as a suspect in the death of his wife. "I'm not going to permit the defendant to be held ransom." Sholts reduced bail from $500,000 to $50,000, and Warren was released from jail hours later when his mother, Joyce Clayton, put up her Palm Beach condominium as collateral. "It seems like they're trying to get him," Mrs. Clayton said after the hearing. Warren, 38, an auto dealer, was charged last week with 13 felony counts of racketeering, insurance fraud and grand theft. His wife, Marlene, 40, was shot in the face May 26 on the doorstep of the couple's home by a person dressed as a clown. She died two days later.

Board to fight Bible ruling

FERNANDINA BEACH _ The Nassau County School Board has decided to fight a federal judge's ruling that it is a violation of the Constitution to read Bible stories in classrooms but will abide by his ban on prayer. U.S. District Judge John H. Moore II of Jacksonville granted a temporary injunction Oct. 3 ordering the Nassau County district to stop teacher Martha Lee Mitchell's daily Bible story readings, as well as her habit of having prayers before lunch. A pretrial hearing on a permanent injunction is set for Jan. 29. Mrs. Mitchell said she had been reading Bible stories to her students for 30 years to calm them at the start of the day. In its response to lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the parents of a fifth-grader, the School Board said the Constitution does not outlaw Bible stories. "We feel that biblical literature is essential to a well-rounded education," School Board attorney Marshall Wood said Tuesday.

Man charged in check scam

ATLANTA _ A 25-year-old Florida man has been jailed on charges that he set up a phony bank and, with phony checks, went on a $150,000 spending fling that netted him a grand piano, an $8,000 painting and a Porsche sports car. Thomas Barrett Stringer of St. Augustine was arrested on forgery charges Sunday along with his brother and sister and was being held on $100,000 bail. Police refused to identify Stringer's brother and sister. "He almost pulled this off," said Atlanta fraud squad Lt. Mickey Lloyd. Stringer drafted phony cashier checks bearing the name of a false company called Atlanta Bank and passed them at 24 Atlanta businesses, Lloyd said. With the checks, Stringer allegedly purchased thousands of dollars worth of items and stayed at several Atlanta hotels. He also had rented an office and obtained a telephone number for the phony bank. When merchants called the number to verify the check, the call was forwarded to a hotel room where Stringer's sister answered the phone, saying "Atlanta Bank," Lloyd said.

_ Compiled from wire reports