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TEEN PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN PARENTS' DEATH

FORT PIERCE

A 16-year-old charged in the shooting death of his parents pleaded not guilty in adult court Thursday.

Jacob Brighton appeared via closed-circuit television from the St. Lucie County jail while his lawyer waived a formal arraignment and entered the plea to second-degree murder charges. Brighton was being held without bond.

"The family is suffering," his attorney, Darren D. Shull, told the Palm Beach Post. "This is a deep tragedy. They are trying to heal."

Shull expects prosecutors to seek a grand jury indictment for first-degree murder charges in the next few weeks.

"I can assure you this tragedy is not simply contained in the police reports. We anticipate the full truth will be discovered during this delicate process," Shull said.

Deputies went to the home Aug. 2 and found the bodies of Richard Brighton, 47, and Penny Brighton, 46, after their son called a cousin and said he killed his parents.

"I've shot my parents," the boy told a deputy, according to arrest records. "There's no point in rescue. They're dead."

A motive for the shootings has not been released.

FORT LAUDERDALE

Judge favors law firm in dispute with Noels

A law firm that represented a woman paralyzed in a botched operation should receive $500,000 more than the $1.07-million the state Legislature has already approved, a Broward judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

Sheldon J. Schlesinger's Fort Lauderdale law firm was entitled to the money based on its contract with the parents of Minouche Noel, Broward Circuit Judge Leroy Moe ruled. The judge rejected Schlesinger's request to receive an additional $42,000 in legal costs.

Bruce Johnson, the Noels' current attorney, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that his clients were "very disappointed."

"We were surprised by the ruling, and we believe it was incorrect," Johnson said.

A telephone message left at Schlesinger's office and with the attorney representing the firm, Bruce Rogow, was not immediately returned after hours Thursday.

Noel was left paralyzed from the waist down at 6 months old following surgery at a state clinic in 1999. Now 19, she suffers from spina bifida, a congenital defect in which the spinal column fails to close properly.

A Broward jury awarded $8.5-million to the Noels, but state law limits such payments to $200,000 without legislative approval. Lawmakers finally passed the claims bill this year after several failed attempts.

Schlesinger filed a lien asking for more money than the legislation allocated to the firm.

TALLAHASSEE

Healthy Kids director to resign next year

The director of the state's subsidized health insurance program for children since its creation said Thursday she'll leave the program next year as she battles cancer.

Rose Naff said she will remain as executive director of Florida Healthy Kids for the next 12 months, a job she's held 18 years. She was diagnosed last year with adult soft tissue sarcoma.

"I have fought a hard battle with cancer for the past year and the coming months will be critical for my full recovery," Naff said in a statement. "I'm hopeful that a year from now, I will be out of the woods and ready for a fresh start."

FEMA to release info on grant payments

The federal government has agreed to release public records on disaster grant payments to four Florida newspapers, which had sued for release of the data.

A federal appeals court had ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release the information to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and three Gannett papers, the News-Press of Fort Myers, Pensacola News Journal and Florida Today.

Complying with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, FEMA said Monday that the agency would release the public records to the Sun-Sentinel. It was denying the Gannett papers the same access but Wednesday reversed course, the News-Press reported.

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