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Amoeba infection kills boy; another swimmer ill

A boy died Friday from a rare amebic brain infection he contracted while swimming in a lake.

The 12-year-old Oviedo boy died at Florida Hospital-Orlando, spokeswoman Stacy Heckman said. His family did not want him identified.

The boy had primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which is contracted from amoebas. He inhaled the microscopic one-celled organisms while swimming in the Conway chain of lakes northeast of Orlando, the hospital said.

A 15-year-old boy in the same hospital was in critical condition Friday with a bacterial infection he got while swimming in a lake.

The unidentified boy from DeLand was swimming Saturday in Lake Talmadge, near Orlando, when bacteria called chromobacterium violaceum entered his body through a cut, officials said.

Jury says man should die for slaying near Disney

TAMPA _ A jury recommended the death penalty Friday for a man convicted twice in the kidnapping and strangling of an Orlando woman whose nude body was left behind a palmetto thicket near Disney World.

The recommendation of death for John S. Huggins is the state's first since the Florida Supreme Court issued stays for two executions this month because of questions about the state's capital punishment law. The jury vote was 9-3.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 5.

Huggins, 40, of Sanford, was convicted of first-degree murder, carjacking, kidnapping and petty theft on Thursday. The trial was his second in the June 1997 killing of Carla Larson, 30.

Huggins was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1999, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned the verdict last summer because prosecutors withheld key evidence from the defense.

Amendment price tags case going to high court

TALLAHASSEE _ The state Supreme Court said Friday it will hear arguments over whether voters must be told the cost of some of the constitutional amendments headed for November's ballot.

Lawmakers in May passed a law requiring state analysts to prepare statements spelling out the likely cost of citizen initiatives. But a trial judge this month blocked the state from enforcing the law. Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey said the Legislature overstepped its constitutional authority.

Two groups, the Coalition to Reduce Class Size and the Pre-K Committee, have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures for proposed constitutional amendments to put before voters. They challenged the price tag law.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who pushed for the law, pushed the state to appeal Davey's order, saying putting price tags on ballot initiatives is "common sense."

The Supreme Court set oral arguments for Aug. 30.

Man sentenced to death

in hammer slaying

FORT LAUDERDALE _ A man twice convicted of killing girlfriends with hammers was sentenced to death Friday in the second slaying.

William Coday, 45, was convicted in April in the beating and stabbing of Gloria Gomez, 30, in his Fort Lauderdale apartment in 1997. Broward Circuit Judge Alfred Horowitz followed the jury's recommendation in sentencing.

In 1978, Coday was convicted in Germany of killing Lisa Hullinger with a hammer. He was released after serving 15 months.

The Broward jury did not learn of that crime before voting 9-3 for the death penalty last month.

McPherson named acting

veterans affairs director

TALLAHASSEE _ Col. Warren "Rocky" McPherson was named Friday by Gov. Jeb Bush to serve as acting executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

McPherson will be the interim replacement for Jennifer Carroll, who resigned this month to run for Congress.

McPherson, 57, has been director of administration and public information at the department since 1999.

A Naval Academy graduate, he was a Marine for 29 years before retiring and going into business.

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