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A mother's nightmare

Published Oct. 2, 2005

It is the only time Cookie Pais remembers being truly afraid.

Pais, who works at the Hillsborough court clerk's office, went to a doctor's appointment at a hospital last week before heading to work. When she walked into the courthouse, she was a little surprised when a security guard asked if she'd just come back from the hospital.

"Well, yes," she said.

"Tell me he's okay," the guard said _ and in a split second, she realized who he meant: her son, 31-year-old Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Alan "Tony" Anuszewski.

The next moments were a blur: the news that her son had been shot in the line of duty, the officer who escorted her to Tampa General Hospital, the receiving line of deputies waiting there who tried to reassure her that her only son was going to be okay.

"Even if they'd told me he had a splinter, I'd have had to see it for myself," she said.

She got to him in the emergency room. He looked up at her and cracked a joke from his childhood. He smiled.

He had always wanted the job. When he was growing up, she was a dispatcher in Independence, Iowa. "Adam 12 _ he thought that was the greatest show in the world," she said. "And his mommy was a dispatcher, and he was going to be a cop."

"That's what he does," she said. "That's what he loves."

Pais said she well knows that bullet, fired into his legs in a scuffle with a suspect after a traffic stop, could have done so much worse. She wouldn't allow herself to cry until he had gone home this weekend with his newlywed wife.

His home was filled with flowers from well-wishers. The community support, the prayers from friends and perfect strangers, have been awesome, Pais said.

"It has come from everywhere," she said. "It's just been unreal."

Already, she said, her son has foregone the idea of a walker and taken on his stair-stepper.

"He's doing his physical therapy," said his mother, smiling. "And hopefully behaving himself."

THREE DOWN: Another of Hillsborough State Attorney Harry Lee Coe's top homicide prosecutors is leaving the office.

Earlier this year, Karen Cox, the longtime overseer of first-degree murder prosecutions, left on the eve of winning a unanimous death recommendation for convicted murderer and accused serial killer Glen Rogers. She now works for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Next was Lyann Goudie, the fiery and well-regarded prosecutor who has since filed a discrimination suit against Coe. Goudie plans to open her own law practice in Tampa.

The latest exit comes from Nick Cox, known for his affable manner and booming courtroom voice. Cox, who is married to Karen Cox, gave his notice last week. "Judge Coe was very good to me, and I appreciate all he's done," he said. "But I just need a change." Cox said he doesn't have a job lined up at the moment.

Coe would not comment Tuesday on Cox's impending departure.

JUST SAY NO: Apparently defendants reporting to the courthouse drug division are taking the name seriously.

Jack Von Kripe, 24, walked in to Judge Jack Espinosa's courtroom last week and was arrested on a violation of probation warrant. While emptying his pockets as required, out came a baggie of marijuana, witnesses said. His charges now include possession.

"I kind of wanted to tell him, "Sir, we do drug cases in here,' " said Assistant State Attorney Ed Schmoll. "We don't do drug cases in here."