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RETIRED DEPUTY CONVICTED OF MURDER

Francis Pach worked as a deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for 27 years before retiring in 2000.

Four years later, his former employer arrested him on a charge of first-degree murder after finding his ailing wife shot dead in the couple's bedroom. Sharon Pach had been shot twice in the head and twice in the chest.

This week, Pach's fate got a bit clearer.

A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. Pach, 67, will be sentenced by Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente on March 7 and could get life in prison.

Prosecutor Stephen Udagawa argued that the number of shots fired and Francis Pach's previous statements about wanting to kill himself and his wife proved his intent to murder.

The defense used an insanity strategy for the retired deputy, who previously was found incompetent to stand trial. Pach wore his jail jumpsuit instead of street clothes through the trial. Udagawa speculated he did so either to boost his strategy or to gain sympathy with jurors.

46-year wait ends

Artist Harrison Covington's work has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and other museums around the country.

But it took him more than four decades to get his art into the Tampa courthouse.

Back in 1962, after he moved to town to start the art department at the University of South Florida, Covington won a mural contest with the prize of having his work permanently displayed in the courthouse.

Never happened. Several county commissioners at the time withdrew the prize because they didn't like his abstract painting style.

Chief Judge Manuel Menendez recalled that controversy at last week's unveiling of the bust of the late Judge George E. Edgecomb, Tampa's first black judge.

The bust sits in the courthouse lobby. The County Commission, through its public art ordinance, paid Covington $45,000.

"We finally have his art in the courthouse," Menendez said.

Want to be a judge?

Monica Sierra's decision to give up her robe as of Feb. 1 means opportunity for someone else.

The 13th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee is accepting applications through noon on Feb. 25 from lawyers interested in a judgeship.

Applicants must have been members of the Florida Bar for the past five years, a registered voter and must live in Hillsborough County when he or she assumes office.

The nominating committee, chaired by lawyer William Jung, will interview applicants and nominate up to six people to the governor's office by March 28.

Got a tip? For cops news, contact Abbie VanSickle at vansickle@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3373. For courts news, contact Colleen Jenkins at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

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