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Jury recommends life not death

Jurors said Friday that Alan McCullers, convicted of first-degree murder in the 1992 fatal beating of a 60-year-old man, should be spared the electric chair. The jury recommended McCullers, 30, spend his life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years. The judge will sentence him next month. Before jurors voted, they heard from members of McCullers' family, who described him as a loving, caring man with two small boys. "I talked about how this was so out of character for him," said David Siar, who argued McCullers' case for life to the jury. Witnesses said McCullers and Robert Moore, 33, kicked and beat Raymond Kocis to death over two cigarettes. Kocis, a drifter with a history of mental illness, was found naked and battered alongside a dirt road. Moore will be tried on first-degree murder charges in August.

Fire damages Mill Pond homes

NEW PORT RICHEY _ A house under construction was destroyed and another was damaged Thursday night after a fire in the Mill Pond subdivision, said Chief Bill McMichael of Pasco County Fire-Rescue. The blaze is being investigated as suspicious, McMichael said. Firefighters responded to the fire at Arbor Oaks Boulevard near Trouble Creek Road about 10:30 p.m. The homes basically were wooden shells that burned quickly, McMichael said. A Pasco County Sheriff's Office report said the homes are owned by the Rutenberg Housing Corp. Company executives could not be reached for comment Friday.

Crew accidentally cuts gas line

WESLEY CHAPEL _ About 30 people were evacuated from the Meadow Point subdivision Friday morning after a construction crew accidentally cut a natural gas pipeline, said Jon Powers, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. No explosions or injuries were reported, Powers said. The line, owned by People's Gas, was repaired about an hour later.

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