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"Most Wanted' suspect cooked steak for host

An attempted murder suspect featured on America's Most Wanted prepared a steak for host John Walsh at a local restaurant two weeks before the segment aired.

Neither the suspect, Asgar Ali, a cook at the restaurant, nor Walsh was aware of the presence of the other during the May 6 dinner at American Cafe at the Jacksonville Landing, general manager Scott Ballard said.

The coincidence only came to light after the America's Most Wanted episode featuring Ali aired Saturday.

Walsh, who was in Jacksonville to film an episode of the television series and appear as a guest on the Fox program COPS, dined at American Cafe with Jacksonville sheriff's Sgt. Michelle Cook and Officer Russell Johnson, who also appeared on COPS with Walsh.

The group ordered an appetizer platter and dinner. Ali, working part-time as a cook under the name Jose Torres, cooked Walsh's steak, Ballard said. He said management had no idea the cook was a wanted man.

"Nothing surprises us at America's Most Wanted," a spokesman for the Fox program, Avery Mann, said Sunday.

After seeing the episode featuring Ali, several Jacksonville residents called local law enforcement with tips. He was arrested Saturday in Jacksonville for giving a false name to police.

Ali, 31, is wanted in Orlando for attempted murder and burglary, police said. Indianapolis police also are questioning him in the death of a former girlfriend's cousin.

Appeal lost, end nearer

for death row inmate

TALLAHASSEE _ A convicted killer scheduled to be executed next week lost an appeal Monday before a Gainesville judge, then turned to the Florida Supreme Court.

After Circuit Judge Robert Cates rejected the appeal by Bennie Demps, Florida's high court scheduled an oral argument for this morning.

Demps, 49, a Vietnam veteran, was first sent to death row for the 1971 murders of R.N. Brinkworth and Celia Puhlick, who were shot in a Lake County citrus grove after they happened upon Demps, who had fled there with a stolen safe.

But a year after Demps' sentence, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out capital punishment across the country, ruling that death sentences had been imposed in an arbitrary way.

In July 1976 the nation's high court upheld Florida's new capital punishment law, and two months later, Alfred Sturgis was fatally stabbed in his prison cell. Before he died, Sturgis told authorities that Demps and another inmate held him down while a third inmate stabbed him. Demps was sentenced to death for the crime in 1978.

Since his second death sentence, Demps has survived three death warrants _ in 1982, 1987 and 1990 _ by winning last-minute appeals.

He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. May 31.

Dead UF medical student's

abandoned car is found

GAINESVILLE _ An abandoned black Volvo found in Marion County belonged to a University of Florida medical student whose body was found May 11, police said.

The cause of Caroline Annette Cody's death remains unknown. Officials are awaiting toxicology results from an autopsy.

Authorities last week charged Donald G. Fair, 28, with stealing the car, which remained missing until Saturday night when a Marion County deputy found it parked in a vacant lot near an abandoned house outside of Belleview.

Fair's sister called deputies after she found some of Cody's personal belongings at her house.

Fair was being held on $500,000 bond.

Cody's body was found after friends called police when they had not seen her for three days. But investigators found no signs of foul play.

_ Wire reports

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