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Man acquitted by court leaves Raiford prison

RAIFORD - John Robert Ballard was out of prison Saturday, two days after the state Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict him of killing two friends.

Ballard left Union Correctional Institution in Raiford with a family member, said Robby Cunningham, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Ballard had been expected to be released Friday afternoon and reportedly had a bus ticket home. But he remained in the state prison hours after prison officials said he was free to go on Friday as he waited for his ride.

Ballard, 37, had served nearly three years on death row for the 1999 murders of Jennifer Jones and Willie Ray Patin Jr. at their Collier County apartment, even though there was little to connect him to the slayings of his friends.

The Supreme Court ordered Ballard acquitted Thursday, overruling a jury's verdict, and saying there wasn't sufficient proof.

Ballard's conviction had been based almost entirely on the discovery of one fingerprint and arm hair being found in the victims' apartment - a place he had visited numerous times.

Neo-Nazis, protesters clash in Orlando

ORLANDO - Fistfights broke out and police made more than a dozen arrests at a neo-Nazi rally and march Saturday through a predominantly black neighborhood.

Most of the arrests came after fights between supporters of the National Socialist Movement and angry counterdemonstrators, who were upset with the group's antiminority message.

About 30 members of the neo-Nazi group wore khaki uniforms, black boots and red armbands with swastikas during the march through the Orlando neighborhood of Parramore. They were confronted by more than 100 protesters.

The neo-Nazis marched down one side of the road and protesters on the other, separated by two lines of police. Both groups hurled insults at each other.

"For them to come into our neighborhood it's wrong, it's a slap in the face," said Donnell Jones, 33.

More than 300 law enforcement officers were on the scene.

During the march, the neo-Nazis held signs with slogans such as "White People Unite" and statistics claiming that crime is predominantly committed by blacks. Later, they made Nazi salutes at City Hall as a SWAT team separated the white supremacists from a jeering crowd.

NAACP blasts handling

of boot camp death

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Florida NAACP leaders and hundreds of Florida Panhandle residents Saturday demanded the immediate arrests of juvenile boot camp guards seen on a security video kneeing, kicking and dragging a 14-year-old boy who later died.

The group also called for a nurse who stood by and watched for 30 minutes as the nine guards handled Anderson to lose her job and her medical license.

"You watched that videotape. If that was Gov. Bush's child, how long would it have taken for those law enforcement officers to be arrested?" Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of Martin Lee Anderson, said to cheers from more than 400 people who attended a community forum.

Panama City residents packed the aisles and stood outside the Macedonia Baptist Church for the three-hour meeting, which included an impassioned plea from Anderson's parents to help them find justice.

An autopsy performed by Bay County Medical Examiner Charles Siebert found Martin Anderson died of hemorrhaging caused by sickle cell trait, a normally benign blood condition that affects about one in 12 black people.

Crump has said the family is making arrangements to have the teen's body exhumed for a second autopsy to dispute findings by the medical examiner.

A group of Panama City ministers read an open letter at Saturday's forum asking Bush to demand the immediate arrest of the boot camp guards, an investigation of the camp nurse and to close each of the state's six juvenile boot camps.

Examiner: No foul play

in autistic boy's drowning

GREENACRES - An 8-year-old autistic boy who was found floating face down in a retaining pond drowned but did not appear to be a victim of foul play, according to a preliminary medical examiner's report released Saturday.

Police found Jared McGuire in the pond Friday, less than 100 yards from his home and one day after launching a massive search for him.

The boy's body did not have any signs of trauma, and there were no indications of foul play, according to a statement released by Greenacres police.

- TIMES WIRES

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