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Jury awards $6.5-million to brain-damaged child

A Hillsborough County Circuit Court jury awarded $6.5-million Thursday to 4-year-old Ashley Cannon of Bartow for the damage, pain and suffering she was dealt because of a botched lab test.

Because no one noticed Ashley's blood sugar level had become dangerously low in the hours after open heart surgery, her brain was so severely damaged that she is unable to walk, talk, feed herself or even crawl, her lawyers contended.

"I'm glad it's over, and we're moving on," said Ashley's mother, Cynthia Cannon. "But it still doesn't change what they've done."

After a two-week trial, the jury determined that St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa was 70 percent responsible for Ashley's permanent brain damage. The jury found pediatric intensive care physician Daniel Plasencia 30 percent responsible.

Ashley had open heart surgery to repair pinhole-size leaks in her heart May 3, 1993.

Brothers charged with

altering cable boxes

ST. PETERSBURG _ Two brothers were arrested Thursday and charged with stealing thousands of cable converter boxes, illegally altering them and selling them to residents in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, authorities said.

Tuan Tran, 31, of 6047 16th St. N, and Tung Tran, 35, of 2620 30th Ave. N, were charged with numerous counts of dealing in stolen property and possession of altered electronic converter boxes. Late Thursday they were still being questioned and had not yet been booked into the Pinellas County Jail.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Greg Tita said investigators began looking into the pair two months ago after a tip about a local newspaper advertisement offering to sell cable boxes.

Detectives said several thousand cable boxes were stolen all over the United States and altered before they were sold for about $225 to residents in three states. Detectives, who worked with Time Warner cable officials, spent Thursday night loading rental vans with cable boxes impounded from a warehouse at 4400 34th St. N.