Manatee County sheriff's deputies found the body of a 28-year-old woman Monday afternoon one day after she was killed in a boating accident on the Manatee River in Palmetto. The woman was riding a water scooter that collided with a boat about 100 to 200 yards off Hooker Point, Sheriff's Deputy L. Schue said. Christine Newcomb of 2311 Manatee Ave. W in Bradenton was knocked from the scooter about 7 p.m. Sunday, according to a sheriff's report. The scooter driver, Roy Thornton, 39, suffered a broken jaw; he was treated and released from Manatee Memorial Hospital. The passengers on the 16-foot boat, Newcomb's 8-year-old daughter and David Potter, 43, were not injured. A sheriff's airplane pilot spotted the body 500 to 600 yards off 31st Avenue W in Palmetto. Florida Marine Patrol officials were investigating the accident. Schue said no charges had been filed.
MAN ACQUITTED IN FIRST-DEGREE MURDER CASE. A Hillsborough jury took less than two hours Monday to acquit a man accused of first-degree murder, an unusual end for such a serious charge. "I can count on one hand the number of not guilty verdicts that have come back on first-degree murder cases in the last five years," said Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney George Bedell, the fourth and last attorney to handle the case. Less than two hours of deliberation "is a record on a three-week trial," said Ruskin attorney Paul S. Carr, who represented the defendant. Robert Michael Bawman, 54, had been charged in the killing of William Robert "Jabbo" Lafon, 41, who was shot twice in the head at close range on June 24, 1991. Authorities said Lafon and Bawman were visiting a mobile home in Gibsonton when Lafon was shot in the back of the head as he sat talking to another man in the room. Bawman, nicknamed "Whitey," fled the county and was arrested more than a month later in an Indianapolis motel. The case against Bawman was not strong, however, both sides agreed. "It wasn't a prosecutor's dream," Bedell said.
BAREFOOT WATER-SKI JAMBOREE TO HONOR JENNIFER ODOM. The Jennifer Odom Memorial Barefoot Jamboree will bring several world champion barefoot water-skiers to Clear Lake in Pasco County this weekend in honor of the slain 12-year-old girl. "Our hope is that the community will have an opportunity to see the positive side of Jenny's life, the happy side, the things she loved," said Clark Converse, Odom's stepfather. Jennifer, who was active in barefoot water-skiing, was abducted near her home in the East Pasco community of St. Joseph in February. She was found murdered six days later in Hernando County. The case has not been solved. The tournament will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Clear Lake (also known as Lake Jovita), at Saint Leo College on State Road 52. There is no charge for event admission or parking. Admission for Saturday night's banquet is $12 for adults, and $8 for children 12 and under. Proceeds from the tournament will go to a memorial scholarship established in Odom's name by the American Waterski Educational Foundation. Remaining proceeds will go to Community Child Watch and the Missing Children's Help Center.