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Witness against Childers can testify, judge rules

Published Aug. 31, 2005

The state's star witness against suspended Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers received clearance from doctors and a judge Wednesday to testify at his bribery and money laundering trial.

The doctors said at a pretrial hearing that Willie Junior, also a suspended commissioner, was fit to be questioned by lawyers and to appear at the trial set for March 31 in Crestview.

The hearing for the first time publicly disclosed that the reason Junior was hospitalized for two weeks in February apparently was an adverse reaction to anxiety and depression medications.

Circuit Judge Jere Tolton also rejected a defense motion to prohibit Junior from testifying on grounds that his past statements and testimony have been inconsistent and not credible.

Junior has accused Childers, a former president of the Florida Senate, of giving him a cooking pot filled with cash to vote for the $3.9-million purchase of a former soccer complex in Pensacola. The county recently sold it at a loss of nearly $1-million.

_ Times wires