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Jury seated in home invasion shootout trial

(ran PS, PC editions)

Attorneys selected a jury of four women and two men Monday and prepared to offer opening statements in the first trial stemming from a June home invasion that dissolved into a shootout.

Aledward Robertson, 28, of Auburndale is scheduled to stand trial today on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, armed burglary and aggravated assault. He is one of two men charged in the June 16 attack on Darby auctioneer William "Dave" Newman.

Newman told investigators he had just finished mowing the grass at his home when three, maybe four, men jumped him. He was hogtied, beaten and shot as the masked men questioned him about money they thought they would find in his house.

Newman said he wriggled free, got his own pistol and holed up in his barn, holding off the attackers with blasts of rat shot _ a round that fires tiny pellets almost like sand.

He phoned his son-in-law, who drove over from his nearby home armed with his own pistol. A gun battle ensued, and the robbers fled.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies picked up Wilford Stanley Washington, 29, of De Soto County in the woods near Newman's home shortly after the attack. And Robertson was arrested the next day as he walked along a highway a few miles from the house. One, possibly two, more suspects still are at large.

Tennessee company working to buy Lykes

DADE CITY _ Tennessee-based Helena Chemical Co. confirmed Monday that it is negotiating to buy the Lykes Bros. Agri Sales division, including a fertilizer sales depot south of Dade City.

Helena President Mike McCarty, in a memo to corporate directors, said his company has agreed in principal as of Nov. 8 to buy the fertilizer and agricultural chemical blending division of Lykes.

The Lykes operation is based in Fort Pierce but includes six plants, including two large fertilizer blending operations.

Without discussing acquisition plans directly, McCarty's memo states Helena expects to gain by the "addition of a significant number of knowledgeable employees who posses expertise in a wide variety of fields."

McCarty also wrote, "Helena looks forward to the addition of these valuable locations, assets and employees and is anxious to continue in, and hopefully improve upon, the tradition for product and service excellence associated with Lykes Agri Sales Inc."

The deal is expected to close Jan. 10, he reported.

A Lykes spokesman on Monday could only confirm the deal still was being completed.

In 1999, Tampa-based Lykes Bros. Inc. sold its juice processing plants and brands for an estimated $100-million. In 1992, Lykes sold its First Florida Banks to Barnett. In 1996, the company sold Lykes Meat Group to Smithfield Foods, People's Gas System to TECO Energy and Lykes Bros. Steamship to Canadian Pacific Limited.

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