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Grand jury indicts man in police officer's death

A Pinellas County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Lorenzo Jenkins on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of a Belleair police officer who was shot with his own .45-caliber revolver. Officer Jeffery Tackett bled to death June 13 at the Pelican Place condominiums, where he was investigating a prowler call. The 31-year-old Jenkins, also known as Lorenza Jenkins, has been held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail since his arrest June 14. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the slaying, which the grand jury called premeditated. Police still are searching for the handcuffs Tackett allegedly put on one of Jenkins' wrists before he was shot. Jenkins fled on a 10-speed bicycle and was seen at one point with the handcuffs, police say. When arrested, he was on the bike, but the cuffs were gone. Tackett, 28, was first Belleair officer killed in the line of duty.


LAWYER TO BE RETURNED TO TAMPA. A U.S. magistrate in St. Louis ruled Wednesday that bankruptcy lawyer Ronald J. Harris be returned to Tampa within 10 days to face charges that he stole money from clients. Harris, who vanished from Tampa in November, was arrested by the FBI on Friday at a St. Louis home where he was renting a room and living under an assumed name. In a brief hearing Wednesday afternoon, Harris' public defender, Carter Law, requested that Harris be released on bail and allowed to return to Tampa on his own because he suffers from "several serious illnesses." Law did not give details and did not return a Times phone call later. U.S. Magistrate David Noce set bail at $10,000, to be backed by cash or real estate, but by the end of the day Harris had not posted it. Under Noce's ruling, Harris must be returned to Tampa under custody of the U.S. Marshal's Office within 10 days. In court, Harris was guarded by two federal marshals, his hands cuffed behind his back. His ex-wife, India Messer of Tampa, also attended the hearing but did not speak. When a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch approached Harris after the hearing, he yelled at one of the marshals to get the reporter away from him.

MOTHER WANTS USF CAMPUS IN HERNANDO COUNTY. A Spring Hill mother of two has started a petition drive to get the University of South Florida to open a campus in Hernando County. Anna Calleri says if USF in Tampa would open a Hernando campus, she is sure hundreds of students from Hernando, Pasco, Citrus and Sumter counties would attend. "The reason why I started it is the need is here," she said. "My daughter goes to PHCC (Pasco-Hernando Community College) and my son goes to PHCC. One had a child and the other one is handicapped. He doesn't have transportation to get to these colleges and universities away from home." If USF opens a campus in Hernando, her children and other students "don't have to go all the way to Tampa," she said. That would save money on gas and living expenses, she said. But a letter from a university official suggests that Calleri's request won't be granted easily. "An arrangement of the sort you suggest . . . may be possible in the long term, but there are no plans for such an arrangement in the foreseeable future," G. G. Meisels, the provost and chief operating officer at USF, said in a June 4 letter to Calleri. Meisels said USF offers some courses off campus, but doesn't promote the practice because it is so expensive.

KENNETH CITY TOWN COUNCIL REPLACES MEMBER. It took seven votes, but the Kenneth City Town Council finally agreed Wednesday on a replacement for deceased council member Carl Schleck. Council members voted unanimously in favor of Elaine Vaughan, an accounting clerk for the St. Petersburg Fire Department, to replace Schleck, who died in a car crash June 4. The meeting was a continuation of a Tuesday meeting that ended in an impasse. The problem stemmed from a split in the council with Mayor Lester Eshleman and freshman council member Bea Lodermeier on one side and council members Karen Kennedy and Harold Paxton on the other. Eshleman and Lodermeier supported former council member Charles Knox. Kennedy and Paxton voted for both Vaughan and Ron D'Andrea, a senior printer for St. Petersburg Junior College. The town has been hampered by the delay and charges against current and former council members of violating Florida's Sunshine Law, requiring elected officials to discuss public affairs in the open. Residents and council members hope Vaughan's appointment will begin the healing process. "I'm pleased because I'm looking forward to being part of the council of Kenneth City," said Vaughan. "Hopefully, it's all behind us."