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Man convicted in Floral City slayings will not get new trial

Circuit Judge Michael Blackstone on Tuesday refused to grant John Barrett a new trial. Barrett's attorney, Dan Snow, said a new trial was in order because the judge failed to allow the jury to hear crucial testimony and view important evidence during the trial last month. In a motion, Snow also said the judge erred when he made comments such as "Let's get on with it," which "could connote in the jurors' minds the exasperation by the court, and as such, the defense was prejudiced." The jury found Barrett guilty of three counts of second-degree murder, and one count each of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with the 1990 Floral City murders. Sentencing is set for Nov. 12. The prosecution wants Barrett to serve three life terms and two 30-year prison sentences.

143 manatees spotted during

aerial survey of local waters

As cooler weather has arrived, so have the manatees. During an an aerial survey Tuesday, federal wildlife biologist Joyce Kleen spotted 143 of the endangered animals in area waters. That count included 107 manatees in Kings Bay, 11 at the Florida Power outflow canal, four in the Crystal River, 19 in the Blue Waters of the Homosassa River and two in the rest of the Homosassa River. Two weeks ago, only 92 manatees were seen in those areas; on Oct. 6, 117. At the peak of the season, usually in December, as many as 300 or more manatees are expected to collect around this area's warm-water springs seeking warmth and vegetation. Surveys are conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service every other week through mid-November, then every week until the manatee wintering season ends at the end of March.

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