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Final decision in civil rights trial months away

The trial in a civil rights case brought by four area black political activists ended Friday in Tampa, but a final decision on the matter is at least three months away. The suit against the city of Tampa stems from the Feb. 2, 1989, arrests of Tony Daniel, of Tampa, and Alvelita Donaldson, Maurice Williams and Junis Wilson, all of St. Petersburg, on charges of incitement to riot and unlawful assembly. The four were arrested during the second night of disturbances near College Hill following the death of a suspected drug dealer. The four maintain they were in the area to counsel youths, not to advocate or incite violence. They said the arrests violated their First Amendment rights. On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth A. Jenkins gave opposing attorneys 60 days to compile and submit fact findings and conclusions of law concerning the case. The 60 days will begin after both sides receive trial transcripts, which is expected to take another 30 days. Jenkins will then render her decision.

DOG SNIFFS OUT MARIJUANA ON BUS. The soft-sided sports bag at the Greyhound bus station piqued Quick's interest. The 3-year-old Belgian shepherd scratched at the bag with a paw, a signal that it might contain something besides gym clothes. During a random search Thursday, the narcotics-detecting dog assigned to the Pinellas County Narcotics Bureau led detectives to 40 pounds of marijuana hidden in the bag. Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita estimated the street value of the marijuana at more than $150,000. The bag was left unclaimed in an overhead rack in a Greyhound bus. The bus stopped about 1 p.m. at the station at 2811 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. on the way to Brandon. "When no one claimed the bag, it was taken off the bus," Tita said. "It was taken outside, and the dog alerted to it. That's when it was searched." No name or identification was on the bag, and no one was arrested. Tita said detectives, through an agreement with Greyhound, have been randomly checking buses for drugs for about 18 months.

CITRUS BOY TO LEAD LAWMAKERS IN THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. Joshua Jones, 8, will lead the Florida House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday. His sister Ashley, 7, will share the platform. Because he was born with cerebral palsy, Joshua will use his computerized "light talker" to communicate, and his mother hopes he can help get a different message across during meetings the day before. "We're going up Monday with another family to tell our legislators our concerns with the Florida Health Care plan being proposed," said Joshua's mother, Kim Jones. The family lives in Floral City in Citrus County. "We're told the plan will not provide therapy unless the patient is victim of a stroke or an accident. We're worried about kids like Joshua who were born with a problem. We don't want them left behind." Joshua's venture into the spotlight is a result of a long-time family friendship with Rep. Victor Crist, R-Temple Terrace, said his mother. "He has known Joshua for some time and has been impressed with him. He's tried to help us in many ways," Ms. Jones said. "When he asked Joshua if he'd like to visit Tallahassee, Joshua was thrilled. His sister thinks it'll be cool to be on the stage, too."


MAN IS CHARGED WITH BIGAMY. A St. Petersburg man was charged with bigamy Wednesday after police discovered that he remarried without divorcing the woman he married in 1979, arrest records show. Lewis T. Johnson Jr., 33, was released Thursday from Pinellas County Jail after posting $5,000 bail. Police say Johnson never divorced Debra A. Johnson after they split up in 1989. In September, he married Darlene Harris Johnson. About two months later, his 17-year-old daughter was told by a classmate that his aunt had married her father. Debra Johnson, 34, reported the marriage to police. She told police she had offered several times in recent years to divorce her estranged husband, but he never filed court documents. Bigamy is a felony.


JENNIFER ODOM'S BILLBOARDS TO GO UP. The billboard shows the young girl dressed in a red sweater holding her teal knapsack and Hooters jacket. A small, black clarinet case sits at her feet. "My murderer has these clothes, clarinet and bookbag," the message reads. On the one-year anniversary of finding 12-year-old Jennifer Odom's body in south-central Hernando County six days after she vanished from her Pasco County bus stop, investigators are trying a new approach to find her killer. The phone calls and leads have fallen off to a trickle, and detectives are growing frustrated, authorities say. They hope the billboards along Pasco and Hernando county roads will jog memories and trigger new leads. Ten billboards, seven in Pasco and three in Hernando, will be up by the end of next week. An estimated 84,000 people will see the seven Pasco billboards every day, said Shawn Ulrichof Patrick Outdoor Advertising, a Largo company donating the billboard space.